Conferences CTC2009

Social Media and the Courts: CTC2009

Keynote speaker, Ari Shapiro, NPR Justice Correspondent, did a great job making the case for the use of social media like Twitter, blogs and Facebook by the courts.  You can hear for yourself how (Twitter to announce new court opinions) and why (public interest and transparency) courts should make use of these new technologies.  The video replay is already available on the CTC 2009 Blog through the NCSC CTC Conference Video Streams.

The program, The Role of Social Networking Tools for the Courts, continued the social networking topic.  The speakers, both from LexisNexis, Christine O’Clock and Travis Olson, started with the basics by defining and describing three of these new technologies, blogs, Twitter and Facebook.  But first they dealt with the why.  They cited a number of reasons: people trust the more personal word of mouth information, people are already talking about the court, awareness in order to avoid pitfalls, traditional media is being replaced by social media and engagement for the development of better relationships with the legal community and the public.

Blogs can bring new audiences for court information resulting in a better understanding of the courts by the public.  Blogs are not as static as a website and can be updated quickly and frequently and can put a more personal face on the court.  The Las Vegas Clark County blog was presented as good example of a court blog.

Twitter was described a great way to listen to the world around you.  It allows for the broadcast of real time announcements and can be used to drive awareness to other sites and tools.  They liked the way the Superior Court of Fulton County Georgia(@FultonCourtInfo) had announcements and real time information on Twitter that linked to the court blog and website.  A search for CTC tweets brought up the tweets of law librarian richards1000 who was recognized for his contributions in the legal Twitter sphere.

Facebook can present the courts perspective, discuss and listen.  New Jersey courts are on Facebook where they have links to news, photos from court events, announcements and links to Youtube videos.

The program concluded with a discussion of how social technology can be implemented for judges, court administration, PR offices and Clerks of Court.  All should make awareness and self education the first step.  It is a good practice to monitor the technolgies for discussions of court cases or issues.  Judges’ awareness allows the specific mention of the use of social media by jurors and witnesses and to develop media access policies.  In addition, court adminstration can develop internal staff use policies and create a strategic plan for outreach to increase court transparency using social media.  PR departments could add social media to the press release list.  The clerk’s office can post announcements, spotlight frequently asked questions or create a tour of the court’s work flow.

The best way to learn about these new technologies is to jump right in and sign up and see how it all works for yourself.

Conferences CTC2009


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.


Maryland Law

Keeping current with Maryland Rules of Procedure

Just a reminder that with the issuance of the 161st Report of the Rules Committee in June  that the Michie/Lexis Maryland rules volumes are not current, not even the pocket parts.  The rules on Lexis are no more current than the print but there is a link there to recent Rules Committee Reports.

However, the rules volumes (blue) published by West are current through the 161st report.

I do not know when or if supplements will be sent to reflect the changes resulting from the 162d report effective October 1.
Until then here is the link to the Rules Committee Reports:

Maryland Law

New Rules to go in effect on October 1, 2009

The Rules Order dated 9/10/2009 adopting (and rejecting some) rules submitted to the Court of Appeals in the 162d Report of the Court’s Standing Committee On Rules of Practice and Procedure can be found on the judiciary’s website @


A place to start

This begins the Anne Arundel County Public Law Library blog. The place to find library announcements and news, descriptions of services and what’s new in the library.  Look for reviews of new additions to the library as well as the old library standards you may have forgotten.  You will find legal research tips and learn about new legal research sites on the Internet.