Many courts are continuing to view and insist that E-filed electronic documents should continue to be functionally the same as their paper and much dumber cousins. Please consider that information entombed in a paper document is now locked as to the accuracy of the moment it is printed. It is essentially a snapshot. This of course results in all sorts of problems as to the information accuracy when that paper document is later read and used. And unfortunately, judges and court staff are relying on the accuracy of that locked paper information to make decisions that affect people’s lives.
Say for example a person has a judgment later set aside. The original judgment document is still there as the written case record. But later when the document becomes invalid, wouldn’t it be great if the original document could display a link maybe even a flashing icon to the later and more current order? Of course it would. The electronic document world can and should be information dynamic. The electronic legal research companies are providing tools that automatically perform cite and currency checks against statutory and case law. Why wouldn't the courts take advantage of this capability in the documents submitted for action? Hyper-links and icons can indicate whether the citation is accurate and when the statute was changed.
Future electronic documents could also provide similar checks against the appropriate databases for a persons’ status say if they were on probation or had a civil protection order in another jurisdiction. The accuracy checks could be done dynamically when the document is displayed and in turn, reduces the need to capture this information in the court’s case management system. Now we know the argument is that the original document shouldn't be changed because it represents the actual case submissions and that status must be preserved for potential appellate review. We would in turn argue that the reference links could be filtered or “turned-off” when used in an appellate or similar context. Again, it is dynamic. Can your “dead-tree” document do that?
The US Federal Courts collected comments and ideas from a "wide range of users" resulting in a new redesigned website with multimedia, automatic updates, and many other features. See for yourself at: http://www.uscourts.gov/Home.aspx
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Blogs. The list is seemingly endless. The NCSC is assisting the Conference of Court Public Information Officers, with collecting questionnaire responses for the first major survey on new media and the courts. To learn more, and to access the survey go to: http://icmelearning.com/CCPIO/index.html
This is the first in a series of notes on how the future court document and file environment is not going to look like the current paper-based systems. I wrote a paper many years ago that used the analogy of automobiles. The first autos looked like horse carriages. Does your car look like a carriage now?
Pivot uses JPEG images and so after seeing the demonstrations please note that there are several software applications that can convert PDF pages to images. One that I tested successfully is Office Converter: http://www.officeconvert.com/
Thanks to our colleague, Larry Murphy, we learned of a Des Moines Register newspaper article pubished on June 7, 2010 titled: More online court filings seen for Iowa. The article notes that the EDMS became operational in Plymouth County, Iowa in January and they hope to pilot the system in Story County, Iowa in September. The article further stated:
"The Plymouth County test took longer than the 90-day pilot period so staff members could fix glitches before expanding the system to other counties, Bosier said. 'We're trying to go about this very carefully and do it properly,' he said. "I'd rather it be a little slower getting there, instead of rushing through and getting it wrong."