Posted by Joan Bellistri on May 5, 2014
The ABA/NLADA Equal Justice Conference has ended and I am back at work. The EJC is a joint effort of the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service and the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA). The EJC provided a great forum in which to learn from interesting programming and from getting to know others whose work involves providing legal services to those who cannot afford legal help. I hoped to be able to report on a daily basis but found little time to fit that in. Here are some of the highlights. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in EJC2014, lawlibrary, Legal Technology, Pro Bono, Self Represented | Tagged: access_to_justice, LegalAid, probono, ROI, selfhelp, technology | 1 Comment »
Posted by Joan Bellistri on October 1, 2013
Have you tried WestlawNext Patron Access?
This new interface, WestlawNext, is now accessible in the law library’s computer room. WestlawNext is in addition to the “old” Westlaw, now referred to as Westlaw Classic, you may be accustomed to. One big difference that will be appreciated by library users is the ability to download and email results. These features are only available with Next, printing is the still the only option for the Classic version.
With WestlawNext you do not have to begin your research session by choosing a database to search. Instead, you need only type your search terms in the search box at the top of the page. This has a more Google like feel to it. However, you can still use the old Boolean terms and connectors in the search box and you can still select the database in which you would like to search. If you don’t though, your results will be presented to you in an organized manner. In the middle of the results screen will be the Overview. The Overview displays the results by document type displaying the most relevant within each category. Listed first will be cases, followed by statutes, regulations, secondary sources and more. On the left of the screen all of the categories will be listed with the number of results for each showing in parens. As you might guess, the number of results can be quite large, just like a Google search. This is where the ability to “filter” comes in. Once one of the categories of results or even “all results” is chosen, boxes will appear below the results on the left that allow the narrowing of the search. You could search within the results by typing in a search term such as “Maryland” or any combination of terms and connectors.
What if you just want to find a case or use Keycite, the citator? To search for a specific case, you would just enter the citation or case name in that same search box. A bar showing Keycite results will display automatically across the top of displayed documents once it is viewed.
Westlaw and WestlawNext Content
Both Westlaw Classic and WestlawNext have access to Maryland’s cases, code, regulation, Attorney General Opinions and some secondary sources such as the MLE and Maryland form books.
This is in addition to access to all state and federal cases and statutes, too. The general secondary sources include ALR, Black’s, the encyclopedias AmJur and CJS, and the Restatements and Principles of the Law. Titles of interest to litigators are the AmJur Proof of Facts, AmJur Trials and Causes of Action. The law library has a number of form books published by West. These sets along with many other titles not available in the library can be searched through the Form Finder on Westlaw and WestlawNext.
Next time you are in the law library, give WestlawNext a try at the computers labeled with a Westlaw sign. We will be happy to help you with your research using Next or the Westlaw Classic. You can also find out more through the online tutorials available on those Westlaw computers.
Posted in lawlibrary | Tagged: legalresearch, technology | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Joan Bellistri on May 21, 2013
Issue 02, Spring, 2013 of Moving Justice Forward, the quarterly bulletin that provides information on the implementation of Maryland Electronic Courts (MDEC), reports that the rules order concerning e-filing was posted on May 2, 2013 on the Judiciary website. The 176th Report and Supplement Rules Order, filed May 1, will go into effect July 1, 2013.
The report included changes to existing rules because of e-filing and the new Title 20, Electronic Filing and Case Management. The new rule 20-102 states that the new Title 20 will apply only where MDEC has been established and will start with Anne Arundel County. Issues covered include how attorneys will register, a new definition of what a “day” is, signatures, procedures for self-represented litigants and access to records. The article that begins on page 9 provides a good overview of the new Title 20.
More information can be found on the MDEC webpage and in the previous issue of Moving Justice Forward, Issue 01, Winter 2013
Posted in lawlibrary, Legal Technology | Tagged: efiling, MDrules, technology | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Joan Bellistri on October 13, 2011
The Maryland Judiciary’s recent press release announced that the Maryland District Court Self Help Center now offers remote access via Live Chat and phone. Until now, the Center’s services were limited to walk-ins only at the Glen Burnie District Court at 7500 Ritchie Highway. It was great for us that the first and only District Court Self Help center was located in Anne Arundel County. The law library has been making referrals to the center since it opened two years ago. However, the location sometimes proved a problem for some of those we referred there. Already we were able to refer a caller from Virginia to the Live Chat for assistance with a Maryland District Court case. The phone service will make it even easier. Based on the many phone calls we get related to the district court such as landlord/tenant, debt collections ans small claims I know that this service is needed and will be appreciated.
Online, live-chat and phone:
Hours: 8:30 a.m.-noon, 12:30-4:30 p.m.
Glen Burnie District Court
7500 Ritchie Highway, Room 206
Glen Burnie, MD 21061
Hours: 8:30 a.m.-noon, 12:30-4:30 p.m.
Posted in lawlibrary, Legal Technology | Tagged: selfhelp, technology | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Joan Bellistri on October 11, 2011
On the last day of the conference I attended a program, “Court Technology on a Tight Budget,” in the CLCT or the Center for Legal Court Technology, formerly Courtroom 21, courtroom. A technologically equipped courtroom was on the stage while Martin E. Gruen, Deputy Director of CLCT, provided advice on meeting the constant demand for new technology with a limited budget. It is important to plan and evaluate the plan. Some considerations would be to make sure that the need is understood and that the results will be achieved. He then illustrated acquisitions of evidence presentation equipment as an example.
“New Horizons: Cloud Computing” defined “the cloud” and discussed the benefits and risks of cloud computing. There is no way to avoid the cloud as it is the “new normal.” Thomas Kooy,Vice President, Product Development, PDSG/OpenCDX thought the definition to be “nebulous'” but settled on “democratized distributed computing.” In the cloud can be found SaaS or Software as Service, PaaS or Platform as Service, and IaaS, Infrastructure as Service. The term “cloud” was said to come from IT architecture drawings that would depict these services as a cloud. The benefits include the ability to get something big with little management resources. Alan Carlson, Chief Executive Officer, Orange County Superior Court, began with outlining considerations that must be made before going to the cloud: performance, safety and access. Timely access, response time and pricing all have an effect on performance. Safety concerns are loss of data and backup abilities, corruption and hacking, location of the data (i.e., are there laws that require it be in the state or country?), and access to data when the contract ends. Access concerns include will the provider expect to share the data, who controls the discarded data and the consideration that third party management of data could lead to the data being subpoenaed. Iveta Toplova, Architect, Microsoft and a member of the IJIS Institute Technical Advisory Committee, stressed that standards for the cloud are critical for security, portability and interoperability.
With the cloud IT can shift focus from the physical maintenance to business services. This statement lead me to the next program, “Transitioning from an IT Shop to a Technology Services Shop.” In this program I almost felt as though I was spying on the IT world. Here the speakers spoke of the trials and tribulations of the IT department in the way that librarians might talk about problem patrons. It was good to get some insight to issues of concern to the IT profession. They spoke of the problem of being considered the place for the answers on the workings of anything with a cord or wire. The computerization of so many building functions has even led to IT controlling HVAC systems. But I still found that their concerns were still much the same as those of the librarian profession and, I am sure, most other professions. The importance of establishing policies and procedures to define the scope of IT was stressed. They discussed strategic planning, core competencies, quality and customer service.
Overall, I saw a common thread in the programs I attended. The same question was asked: What effect will the introduction of new technology have on existing court departments? What will happen to employees in the clerk’s office when there is no more paper to process? What will IT do when everything moves to the cloud? Questions not unlike, “who needs a library when everything is online?” And just as the introduction of online legal material has not meant the end of the law library, e-filing will not eliminate the need for the clerk’s office or the move to the cloud will not eliminate the need for IT. The function of law libraries, the clerk’s office and IT are not changing but the how and what of those departments is. Clerk’s will still manage filing but through an e-filing system. One speaker suggested that the clerk of the future may require more skills than before. The programs I attended on the cloud and IT suggested that IT would have fewer physical “boxes” to maintain and would be able to concentrate on service. As a law librarian of over 30 years, I have experienced the changes that technology has brought to the library world. Still the function of the library in providing access to legal information has remained the same. There are just more ways to access and deliver that legal information. Librarians are still essential in getting to the needed legal information no matter what the format. Technology may be the key in the ability of courts to do more with less as the economy is insisting.
I would recommend the Court Technology Conference to all those involved in the workings of the courts especially to other law librarians. I can say that I was able to find programs of interest to me in terms of the law library and in terms of learning more about other court functions. CTC2013 will be held in Baltimore, September 17 – 19, and I look forward to seeing everyone there.
Posted in Conferences, CTC2011, lawlibrary, Legal Technology | Tagged: ctc2011, technology | 1 Comment »
Posted by Joan Bellistri on October 6, 2011
Judge Steven Leitman of Miami-Dade County Florida delivered this morning’s keynote: “Ending the Revolving Door of Justice: How Technology Helped One Judge Reengineer His Court.” Judge Leitman’s concern that he was unable to really do anything for the mentally ill in his court drove him to find a solution to this national problem. He described cases involving the mentally ill charged with crimes who could be sentenced to jail but could not be involuntarily hospitalized by the court. He used technology to gather data and to create diversion programs in partnership with other entities affected. NCSC has already made his presentation materials available online.
After the keynote, programming ceased for the opening of the exhibit hall. I visited a variety of vendors. Lexis was demonstrating its ebooks and expects an application for public law libraries that would allow e-lending. There were vendors for case management, e-filing, systems for delivery of court video and audio recordings, and e-signing. There was a vendor that could take care of collections for the court and one that demonstrated its virtual meeting place. Participants could attend a training or meeting via an avatar and sit at a table and view presentations and interact with other participants. Because Maryland will soon be going to e-filing, I attended two presentations by the vendor for an overview of the e-filing process and paperless courts. At the booth I saw demonstrations of the public interface portal as I was interested in how the public might fare with a new e-filing system. Courts would have the option to provide interview produced forms. There was a vendor that offered interactive forms for the SRL that could work with different e-filing systems.
There was time for two afternoon programs. I decided to check out “E-Everything: The Future of Court Business and Management” after sitting with one of the speakers at lunch. Tom Clarke of NCSC presented his vision of the future and two directors of court administration offices, Artie Pepin of New Mexico and Donald Goodnow of New Hampshire, commented in a panel discussion. Concerns for self represented litigants were discussed in terms of the need for access with sufficient information. There will be a need for less staff with a higher skill level as the routine tasks will have been automated. They talked about outsourcing, remote workers in the courts and having judges focus on certain types of cases. The concern that accessing the courts online will remove the personal contact and impression of the court as trusted institution was voiced.
I missed “Social Media and the Courts” but see that the materials are available on the CTC program schedule where you could find materials from most of the presentations now.
“The Digital Decision: Incorporating Multi-Media into a Decision” was presented by a judge from New Zealand, David John Harvey, who had occasion to add a video to one of his opinions. His digital opinion was digital not just because it was online but because of its digital content. Adding a video to an opinion presents the problem of how it would work in print. Judge Harvey provided step-by-step instruction for embedding a video and discussed the concerns of doing so. Concerns discussed included when to add multimedia, preservation, authentication, and access. He also provided a brief history of print opinions, once the new technology and examples of other opinions containing multimedia.
Posted in Conferences, CTC2011, lawlibrary, Legal Technology | Tagged: ctc2011, technology | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Joan Bellistri on October 5, 2011
If you were in Portland for AALL in 2008, you have an idea of how entertaining the keynote speaker, David Pogue, technology columnist for the New York Times, was this morning. His speech, “Disruptive Tech: What’s Coming and How It will Change Everything,” will soon be available at the NCSC website’s CTC2011 page and I recommend it, if only for the songs about Steve Jobs and Bill Gates he performed at the end. Pogue spoke of cultural shifts resulting from technology in terms of apps/smart phones, web2.0 and the huge generational changes we see now. He demonstrated some augmented reality apps: one that can produce information such as the location of a subway station based on your location and a view of where you are standing through your phone and an app, word lens, that translates English and Spanish with the phone’s camera. He described web2.0 as audience as creators. He also cited the surprising, to me, results of a study in Nature that found Wikipedia to more accurate than the Encyclopedia Britannica. Through technology we now have a generation who expect everything in real-time and on demand and have little regard for privacy. These are just some of the concepts discussed.
I couldn’t resist David Pogue’s session that followed his keynote, “The Best Mobile Apps.” We saw apps that were fun and useful. Songify will convert plain speech to song. There are travel apps such as JetLagRX that helps you adapt to a new time zone and Flight Track Pro that can tell the status of your flight. There is a speech recognition app (Dragon Dictation) that works great and is free and an app that can be used as a remote presentation slide changer (Keynote Remote). I have always been reluctant to download apps to my phone but when asked about security issues David Pogue said he doesn’t really worry. I just might try some of the apps he recommended.
“Abandoning Law Reports For Official Digital Case Law” described Arkansas’ decision to make the digital court opinions the official in 2009. Professor Peter Martin of Cornell and co-founder of the Cornell’s LII was reassuring when he said that if UELMA were to be enacted in Arkansas the provisions for authentication, preservation and access would already be met. Arkansas has also done away with the idea of published and unpublished decisions. All are “published” now. Arkansas has also adopted its own vendor neutral citation system based on the clerk’s numbering system. Professor Martin discussed the benefits of digital opinions in terms of cost savings, timeliness and access. There were some interesting questions and discussion afterwards. Why is authentication important and can’t we just trust that whatever is available on Westlaw or Lexis is authentic? I think Professor Martin made a good case for authentication, even if it was just to assure the public. There were a number of comments on the difficulty of coming up with a vendor neutral citation system. Another asked, ” Won’t this mean the end of physical space for law libraries?” I was sitting next to him and must have looked horrified. Professor Martin pointed out there are other materials of value such as treatises in a law library other than case law that might still be preferable in print. I was able to mention that AALL had developed a Universal Citation System that might be helpful and that law libraries might have changed the formats of legal information they provide, how they provide it and the space that they need but still provide an essential service in the court.
“Innovations in Serving Self-Help Court Users: Montana and California” consisted of an introduction by Claudia Johnson of LawHelp Interactive, Pro Bono Net, on the development of interactive forms using interviews for document creation with HotDocs and descriptions of different models used for serving self represented litigants. In California, Los Angeles is able to serve large numbers of family self represented litigants through work shops and interactive interview forms and San Bernardino County uses are more of a one-on-one method. However, by partnering with the San Bernardino County Law Library they have been able to have remote broadcasts using library space and technology. Montana, a large state with limited IT resources, has developed kiosks with options of live help or online resources for the user. This program is in partnership with the Montana State Law Library, Montana courthouses and public libraries. It was good to hear that law libraries are considered as important elements in providing court services.
I am afraid that the program, “E-Filing and Web Services in a Nutshell,” was more technical than I expected. However, the need for standardization was stressed as it can reduce costs and streamline sharing among court entities.
The day ended with a reception for the opening of the exhibit hall. I visited just a few vendors this evening. One that provides systems for the video recording of court proceedings and a court management system vendor. Probono.net is exhibiting this year, too. I didn’t see the familiar West and Lexis until the reception was over and that was because they have a much smaller booth at this conference compared to AALL.
The conference is going well but I have to say I am disappointed in the weather. I expected sunny weather but it looks like clouds and rain for the rest of the week.
Posted in Conferences, CTC2011, lawlibrary, Legal Technology | Tagged: ctc2011, technology | 3 Comments »
Posted by Joan Bellistri on October 3, 2011
As the AALL Representative to the National Center for State Courts, I am attending the Court Technology Conference (CTC2011) in Long Beach, California. The conference begins tomorrow and I will again report on my experiences here.
To start the conference I am looking forward to keynote Speaker, David Pogue, New York Times technology reviewer. Programs that I am interested in are one on “Best Mobile Apps” with David Pogue right after he speaks or one at the same time on the use of open source software used by Arizona’s Judicial Branch to revamp their website. Later I will attend “Abandoning Law Reports for Official Digital Case Law” and wonder whether they will talk about authentication, preservation and permanent public access. “Innovations in Serving Self-Help Court Users” is always a topic of concern for court librarians and of interest. Maryland courts are on the way to implementing e-filing so it makes sense to end the day with “E-Filing and Web Services in a Nutshell.” The Exhibit Hall will open in the evening with a reception. It will be interesting to see the different types of vendors though I will see the familiar Lexis and Westlaw, too.
Posted in Conferences, CTC2011, lawlibrary, Legal Technology | Tagged: ctc2011, technology | 1 Comment »