I am in Denver attending and reporting on the National Center for State Courts’ CTC2009 as the AALL Representatve to the NCSC.
My CTC2009 experience began this morning in the Wells Fargo Theater for the keynote speaker. We entered the huge auditorium to U2’s “It’s a Beautiful Day.” Our welcome to Denver included the statement that there are 300 sunny days per year in Denver but that we would not see any of them. It is cold, like in the 4o’s cold, and rainy. I can’t say I am sorry that I am inside all day for programs. It works out just fine.
My first program, The Little Template That Could, dealt with a trial note taking free template developed in Ontario, Canada for use by judges. Upon entering the room I could see a large white bunny and wondered. The bunny was part of a staged courtroom drama that showed real time note taking by a trial judge. The bunny was the defendant. The template can be adapted for individual judges and courts. The judges who use it find that it allows them to focus on the case and to organize and retrieve the information in the note in a meaningful way. It generates tables of exhibits, issues, names, and even a case chronology through the use of tags. It can even be used with handwritten notes converted through the use of voice recognition software. The technology is simple and based on Microsoft Word 2003 or 2007.
The live demonstrations were interesting but what I found most interesting was the fact that judges take notes during a trial that they refer to when making a decision or writing an opinion. Easy retrieval and access to the information in the notes later is important and this tool sounds like it can help.
The Process for Web Design Success program started with discussion of the NCSC new website that has just been unveiled. Pam Burton, Web Content Editor, for the NCSC, outlined the steps in the process: define your goals, ask if the goals are the right goals, match resources with goals and define and track project milestones. Chris Crawford is President of Justice Served who selects the top ten court websites. Criteria for this award are reflection that the needs of the user are being met, use of interactive e-services, ease of navigation, aesthetics and services such as virtual tours or a kids’ page. The Sacramento Superior Court is a four time winner of the award. Susan Finkelpearl is the Online Strategy for Free Range Studios and she spoke from the design perspective. She emphasized the importance of audience research and testing though surveys, formal and informal, not only when redesigning but every six weeks.
The day ended with the grand opening of the exhibit hall and reception. The vendors are very different from what I am used to at AALL. I did find Lexis and West as they were familiar faces. They both have court knowledge management tools now. The National Center has a large area in the middle of the exhibits that I will explore tomorrow. I was able to introduce myself to NCSC reps and discuss the Center’s relationship with AALL. So far, I have seen technology from Metatomix that allows for searching multiple law enforcement databases across jurisdictions and entities, jury management software, and e-filing and court case management that will not cost the court to use. Tomorrow there will be theater presentations of vendor technologies. I will get a better feel for the technology solutions available to courts then.
Social media was the subject of the keynote address and a program. There will be a separate post for that report.