Thursday, October 06, 2011

A walk around the exhibition hall: lots of vendors selling lots of case management systems, now with e-filing integrated. There are firms offering telephone court appearance for a fee, interesting. The first evidence camera using 3-D imagery is here. Everyone’s favourite, the silicone rubber keyboard that is completely silent, is also dishwasher safe. The crew from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (#ICTY) consider ordering 50 for their courtrooms. I want one at home, too! I test a check-in kiosk for jurors together with someone who turns out to be the CIO for the courts in San Jose, California – Silicon Valley, that is. No, that location is not an advantage. The constituency is so connected, the courts are not, and there is a big problem.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Wednesday, October 5 2011

This morning’s keynote sounded innocuous enough: Ending the Revolving Door of Justice: How Technology Helped One Judge Reengineer His Court. Therefore, I almost gave it a miss. That would have been a mistake, for judge and former public defender Steven Leifman of Miami-Dade county in Florida had an extremely interesting and moving story on how to divert people with a mental disorder from the criminal justice system into the health care circuit. More and more people in the criminal justice chain turn out to have a serious mental disorder. Keeping them in the prison system is not going to help, but sometimes a little mental health care does the job, at much lower cost. In the present climate, and in the U.S. context more generally, that is an unusual topic. My favourite quote: nothing makes a conservative liberal more quickly than being broke. Leifmans point was that diverting people is much cheaper than keeping them in prison. Where the technology came in was to provide the metrics on people with a mental disorder and how they moved through the criminal justice system, and at what cost. He also pointed out that judges have a moral authority they can use to raise issues. And finally, the observation that more veterans from Afghanistan are now committing suicide than there are casualties on the ground in Afghanistan. His program tries to identify them and give them the care they need, so they do not end up in the US criminal justice system.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Tuesday, October 4 2011

This morning, David Pogue, technology reviewer for the New York Times, opened CTC 2011 with a keynote on Disruptive Technology. He introduced the audience to an awful lot of really cool apps and speculated on a few of their effects. It was very entertaining. The video will be on the NCSC web site soon. It will be well worth watching. Click here for more. Pogue’s talk included some of his songs on Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Click here for a sample from YouTube.
The panel on Taking Measuring Court Performance Seriously took place right after lunch. The panel was originally conceived as an inernational, comparative discussion on factors affecting the level of serious performance measuring. For the predominantly U.S. audience, the format had been modified. Ron Bowmaster of the Utah courts and Craig Burlingame of the Massachusetts courts talked about their experiences with measuring court performance in their court systems. My role was to provide a wider, more judicial perspective using some of the Dutch courts’ experience and observations from other courts systems I have worked with. Invariably, output-based budgeting attracts attention, and this time was no different. The message, however, was to ensure quality measuring to counterbalance too much attention to quantitative aspects. The session was moderated by Richard Schauffler of the National Center.
The other highlight of the day was the session presenting a study on videoconferencing in Australia – and some courts in Europe by Anne Wallace. It shows there is much more to videoconferencing in courts than meets the eye, so to speak. The use of technology changes communication, and therefore the understanding of the statements being made.
The technology exhibition opened at 5.00. Vendors are offering case management systems, these days most of them are integrated solutions. Some of them remain vague when asked in how many courts their solutions have been implemented. The coolest thing I saw was a completely silent keyboard made of a rubbery, silicone material, Completely waterproof, and completely silent. It would be a great asset to any courtroom where keyboards are used to input information. And of course, there is the hunt for the coolest gadgets distributed by the vendors. In these days of crisis, the booty is small. A pen that lights up, a 2 gigabyte usb-drive, a yoyo that does not work very well. Anyway, more tomorrow.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Monday, October 3 2011

The 2011 Court Technology Conference starts tomorrow, Tuesday October 4. This is where I restart the daily blog.
Last week, I was at the e-justice seminar and workshop by the Judicial Studies Center of the Americas, CEJA, in Santiago, Chile. It was their first seminar on courts and IT. Participants from Brazil, Costa Rica and Chile gave an overview of developments in their judiciaries. Brazil now has a Judicial Council, and it is doing a project in electronic work processes. About 600 different work processes are being supported electronically. The system is already operational in two courts, with about 100 users. Courts participate on a voluntary basis, and about 55% of them actually do so. Costa Rica, by far the most IT-equipped judiciary of Latin America, is experimenting with notifications by email and fax.
At CEJA’s request I gave an overview of the findings in my book. Francesco Contini of IRSIG in Italy compared UK’s Money Claim On Line, Austrian Elektronischer Rechtsverkehr and French e-barreau on the point of development strategy. The lessons are to keep things simple, use standard components, learn from experience, build on what you already have, and not to over-regulate things.
The workshop the next day was on CEJA’s plan for an index of judicial services. It is still very much in development.