Monday, 28 February 2011

Legal XML E-Filing Standard Revision Review for Comment Announced

Via e-mail from on February 26, 2011:  The OASIS LegalXML Electronic Court Filing TC members have recently approved a Committee Specification Draft (CSD) and submitted this specification for 30-day public review.

This OASIS Technical Committee was chartered to will develop specifications for the use of XML to create legal documents and to transmit legal documents from an attorney, party or self-represented litigant to a court, from a court to an attorney, party or self-represented litigant or to another court, and from an attorney or other user to another attorney or other user of legal documents.

Overview: This document defines the LegalXML Electronic Court Filing 4.01 (ECF 4.0) specification, which consists of a set of non-proprietary XML and Web services specifications, along with clarifying explanations and amendments to those specifications, that have been added for the purpose of promoting interoperability among electronic court filing vendors and systems. ECF Version 4.01 is a maintenance release to address several minor schema and definition issues identified by implementers of the ECF 4.0 specification.

Public Review Period: The public review starts today, 26 February 2011 and ends 28 March 2011.

This is an open invitation to comment. OASIS solicits feedback from potential users, developers and others, whether OASIS members or not, for the sake of improving the interoperability and quality of its technical work.

URIs: The prose specification document and related files are available here:

Editable Source (Authoritative):

XML Schemas:

Other specification artifacts:

Additional information about the specification and the OASIS LegalXML Electronic Court Filing TC may be found at the TC's public home page:

Comments may be submitted to the TC by any person through the use of the OASIS TC Comment Facility which can be located via the button labeled "Send A Comment" at the top of the TC public home page, or directly at:

Comments submitted by TC non-members for this work and for other work of this TC are publicly archived and can be viewed at:

Friday, 25 February 2011

Predicting Technology

Earlier this week I was looking for an article in the old printed versions of the Court Technology Bulletin and ran across an article on the 1996 COMDEX computer exposition in the January/February 1997 edition.  At that conference I had the privilege of seeing a presentation by Intel CEO, Andy Grove who would later be named 1997 Time Magazine's "Person of the Year".

During the address Mr. Grove made the following prediction about computer power in the year 2011 that we documented in the CTB.

"What Will 2011 Bring?" (1997 CTB article)

"Today's top PC microprocessors contain 5.5 million transistors (using .35 micron fabrication technology), run at 200 MHz, and process 400 million instructions per second.

In his COMDEX keynote address, Andy Grove, president and CEO of Intel Corporation, predicts that the computer of the year 2011 will have one billion transistors (based on .07 micron technology), run at 10 GHz, and process 100 billion instructions per second.  Such a PC would be 250 times more powerful than today's top-of-the-line Pentium Pro machines, in a little over a decade."

So let's see how Andy did?  Recently Intel announced yet another generation of processor chips, code named "Poulson" for 2011.  The specifications say:

  • 3.1 Billion Transistors (Andy predicted 1 billion)
  • 32 nano-micron technology (Andy predicted 70 nano-microns)
  • The new chip has 8-12 core processors. This parallel processing allows the overall chip to exceed Andy's prediction of 10 GHz by splitting work between the core processors.

I couldn't find a direct comparison regarding computer instructions per second because the new chips are rated in Gigaflops.

So Andy was a little conservative on his predictions (although the currently released i7 chips are very close).

What does this mean?  Computers are still getting faster.  It is our challenge to figure out how to use all that power effectively to help with the work of the courts.  For some possible examples of how this might be headed, Microsoft issued this video on their user interface work (3.5 minutes) that takes advantage of the increasing computing power.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

City of Dallas, Texas Seeks CCMS

The City of Dallas, Texas has posted an RFP for a new Court Case Management System (Solicitation Number BUZ1107).  The notice states:  "The purpose of this solicitation is to seek interested and qualified parties to implement a turnkey replacement Court Case Management System that will serve the needs of the City of Dallas with best in class maintainable products, with world class performance and lowest total cost of ownership over the life of the System. The City reserves the right to award by method deemed most advantageous to the City. Specifications and all associated documents may be viewed and downloaded at"

Friday, 18 February 2011

The Future is Not Paper - Third in a Series

How to Verify a Court Document?

Before the technical troubles with the Court Technology Bulletin occurred in the summer of 2010, I had started a series of articles on that the future of court information is not based upon paper documents.  Part 1 and Part 2 can be viewed by clicking on the respective links.

The present “myth" and reality is that a paper court document with a rubber stamp or embossed seal is magically accepted as authentic by all legal authorities.  This is true despite the fact that any elementary school child with a computer and printer (or even white-out and a copier) can forge a paper document.  And unfortunately in recent years there are multiple instances where a fraudulent court document was faxed to a jail and an inmate mistakenly released.

Certainly the banking and financial industry understand that their authentic records are electronic.  And even when a paper financial documents such as "bearer bonds" are created, great effort is made (as with paper currency) using various printing techniques such as embedded fibers and micro-printing to authenticate the physical document (some are wonderful works of art such as this fraudulent one). However, the courts cannot afford to undertake such time consuming and expensive activities.  Instead, it is the court’s online electronic document systems that must provide access to the authentic copy of the document that is not otherwise sealed or protected.

But there is a significant problem that must be addressed to make documents easier to retrieve and verify via the Internet.  This is where the work of the URN:Lex or Universal Resource Name, Legal begins.  The basic concept is that every legal document submitted to or produced by the court (and ideally the entire legal system) would be assigned a unique reference number.

Specifically, “(t)he purpose of the "lex" namespace is to assign an unequivocal identifier, in standard format, to documents that are sources of law. The identifier is conceived so that its construction depends only on the characteristics of the document itself and is, therefore, independent from the document's on-line availability, its physical location, and access mode.”

For the full technical details of the currently circulated draft standard see:

A unique reference number greatly facilitates retrieval of the document from any system and any type of database or file system that would reside in the court or on an open or commercial system; and it would be consistent for all future retrieval systems that are developed.  In addition to easy retrieval and reference, there is a great possibility for URN:Lex to address a vexing problem of electronic information -  document recall.  Courts continually wish to identify and update documents that are incorrect or expired.  The URN:Lex approach allows notifications to be posted and/or distributed; and further allows for systems to be developed with persistent hyper-links such as the online legal publishers have created for statutory and case references.

And finally, this is not to say that visible verification (document file stamps) is not of benefit.  Several courts are adding visible indications of electronic filing as a watermark using the widely available PDF capability.  But a visible verification that includes the URN:Lex would serve multiple legal system needs.  To see a crude example click here.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Parking Technology?

One of the court manager's more off-beat but stressful jobs is to manage the courthouse parking lot.  Some recent technology introduced in France might be of interest... parking spot sensors.  The sensors are buried in the pavement can report via cell phone where empty spaces are located.  For more see the IT World article "Take us to your leader('s parking spot).

Friday, 11 February 2011

NM: Two pieces of legislation to restrict or end court e-filing

Numerous state legislatures have been exceptionally active in promoting or advancing bills to permit or require e-filing in state courts. New Mexico's Senate, however, may be the first state legislative chamber be to actively working against such efforts.

SB 328 repeals the judiciary's "electronic services fund" and transfers the balance to the state's general fund. According to the fiscal impact note prepared by the Legislative Finance Committee, "SB 328 would effectively end the ability of courts to implement efiling in New Mexico."

The same senator that authored SB 328 has also introduced this week SB 388 which declares the state's courts "shall not charge an electronic services fee to persons who choose not to use electronic services and shall allow persons to file and access documents without using electronic services."

SB 328 is in the Senate Judiciary Committee, while SB 388 is in the Senate Public Affairs Committee.

Cross-posted at the Gavel to Gavel blog

Projects in Progress - February, 2011

The CTB receives PR announcements from companies regarding court technology projects.  Some recent ones are:

From Tyler Technologies:

January 27, 2011 – Tyler Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: TYL) announced today it has signed a contract with Pinellas County, Florida, for Tyler’s Odyssey® integrated justice suite. The agreement, valued at approximately $6.8 million, includes software licenses, professional services, maintenance and support.

February 3, 2011 – Tyler Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: TYL) has signed a contract valued at approximately $10 million to provide its Odyssey® integrated justice suite to Fulton County, Georgia. Fulton County, which has a population of more than one million and is home to Atlanta, has invested in a broad range of Tyler’s Odyssey applications including Case Manager, Prosecutor, Supervision, Law Enforcement, Jail Manager, Financial Manager and Public Access.

Orange County, California Expands E-Filing with OneLegal

Novato, CA, February 03, 2011 --( Recently, the Superior Court of California, County of Orange posted an advisory on their website: “eFILING AVAILABLE FOR ALL CIVIL CASES.” The advisory speaks to the court’s desire to run more efficiently while faced with looming state budget cuts.

In a recent report by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), several Superior Courts in California were identified as overfunded, though long lines at many courts’ filing windows and reduced hours seem to tell an entirely different story. The LAO’s claim has already received a strong, public rebuttal from the San Francisco Superior Court.

While the LAO and courts continue their debate, Orange County Superior Court is taking action. In early 2010, the Court contracted with Novato based One Legal LLC to build and manage an electronic portal to the Court that allows legal professionals to electronically file and serve legal documents for Civil cases in a secure environment. The Court’s website states, “Because the Court expects there to be less money to operate the courts in the future, we must find less costly ways to process the existing volume of filings with fewer staff. The new eFiling system will reduce the cost to the Court by delivering both the document and information about the document directly into the Court’s data systems.”

A fifty percent increase in expected filings within the first six months is proof the new system is working. “This is another step in the Orange County Superior Court’s transition to an all electronic record that provides better, faster access to court records for everyone at a lower cost to the taxpayer,” said Orange County Court Executive Officer Alan Carlson in an eFiling case study done by One Legal.

CourtCall Saves Time and Money and CO2

In a press release date December 9, 2010, CourtCall noted:

"In  2010,  alone,  Judges  helped  lawyers  to  skip  over  1,000,000  trips  to  and  from  courts  in State, Federal and Bankruptcy Courts in both the largest and smallest Courts one can imagine and  they  are  to  be  applauded,”  said  Bob  Alvarado,  CourtCall’s  CEO. 'That  conservatively converts to over $150,000,000.00 in attorney time savings and the elimination of tons of CO2,' observed  Mark  S.  Wapnick,  CourtCall’s  President,  who  conceived  of  the  turn-key  telephonic appearance program."

Monday, 7 February 2011

PDF/A, more than just archiving

Everyone knows what a PDF document is. But few understand the different versions of PDF and in particular, the national and international standards that have created that govern the format. A brief introduction to the subject is contained in the Future Trends 2010 article: Electronic Documents: Benefits and Potential Pitfalls.

The following article by Thomas Zellerman is reprinted with permission from the PDF/A Competence Center(1) January, 2011 Newsletter lists other aims for the PDF/A standards work that could potentially benefit the courts and legal process.

"The obvious reason anybody looks at adopting PDF/A is because they have a need to keep good archives for a certain time. Good may mean they want to be able to have exact visual reproduction of the documents in the archive, or it may go further and they might want to also guarantee semantic correctness of the documents. Likewise the range of meanings for a “certain time” may span from 7 to 10 years for tax papers, or to forever for libraries or national archives. But in most projects, people remain very focused on the archival side of the problem and the risk is that other opportunities are missed as a result.

That is a shame: taking a step back and looking at PDF/A as an ISO standard amongst many other similar PDF-based ISO standards can show additional opportunities and reasons to standardize on PDF/A.

So lets take a step back: PDF/A is an ISO standard based on another ISO standard, PDF (ISO 32000). This means that PDF/A documents are PDF files on which additional restrictions and demands are
placed. And following that same method, the ISO has developed and is still developing a number of
other standards that can be very interesting for companies looking at PDF/A. Some examples:

  • PDF/X was the first PDF-based standard adopted and further developed by the ISO. As far back as 2001, ISO PDF/X was created to allow the use of PDF files in the print and publishing market.
  • PDF/E is an ISO standard for use in engineering workflows, allowing for 3D drawings in PDF files.
  • PDF/UA is becoming an ISO standard to create standardized accessible documents; allowing for example visually impaired people to use screen-reader applications with PDF files in a reliable way.

Does that mean that companies looking at PDF/A today should instead adopt all of these standards?  Not necessarily, but it would be a good thing to at least look at those other standards and understand how they could play a role.

It is also important when evaluating tools for use in PDF/A workflows. While some tools focus exclusively on PDF/A, there are certainly also tools on the market that add value towards some or all of these additional standards. And if such standards now or in the future hold value for a company, the selection of which tools are used should follow that realization.

And lastly, knowing those other standards is important when building the business case around adoption of PDF/A in a company. Additional demands such as the necessity to print or publish archived documents or convert them into accessible documents may very well change the scope of the project and lend additional credibility to standardizing on PDF/A as a way to prepare for things to come."

(1) As stated on their website: "The aim of the PDF/A Competence Center is to promote the exchange of information and experience in the area of long-term archiving in accordance with ISO 19005: PDF/A."

Friday, 4 February 2011

2011 National Forum on Criminal Justice & Public Safety July 31-August 2

Sponsored by the National Criminal Justice Association, the IJIS Institute, and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the 2011 National Forum on Criminal Justice and Public Safety showcases programs and technologies that help justice practitioners and decision makers in states, local communities and tribal nations address these pressing public safety issues today and in the future. Last year 91 percent of attendees reported that they learned useful strategies and ideas that they could take home and implement immediately. Eighty-seven percent of attendees said the Forum was important for their professional development.

For more information about the National Forum please visit or