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.
“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.