E-Filing Should Support Government to Court Communications
The vast majority of E-filing systems focus upon civil case matters. While there are many reasons I believe that besides vendor funding, this focus greatly reduces project political risk to the courts. Judges have more discretion in managing civil cases and the parties can agree to work together to support new systems and procedures for everyone’s benefit. In fact, this is how court E-filing started in 1990 in the Delaware Chancery Court.
But criminal and other cases involving human services and other government departments and programs are a different animal for E-filing. In criminal cases the attorneys are continually looking for procedural mistakes and other errors in order dismiss cases and free or reduce the penalties for their clients. In other words, the attorneys truly embrace their adversarial role with court procedures as well as the opposing side. As a result, and along with funding challenges, there are only a handful of criminal case E-filing systems in the USA today.
Our NCSC Technology Department's excellent summer intern and future law school student, Ms. Emily Whitaker, scoured the Internet and legal research resources to compile a list of state court automation funding. We can report that the majority of state courts have implemented some type of automation support fee or fund. The results were compiled into a PDF spreadsheet format and are available at:
"The audio/video training modules fall into 13 general lesson areas. Few run longer than 10 minutes, many clock in at around 3 minutes. Each module is organized by job-related function and includes a demonstration and a guided simulation.
COAT began with a desire by the Judicial Conference Information Technology Committee to create better IT training for judges and chambers staff. It is part of the FJC/AO Judicial IT Training Initiative."
To date most court E-filing has focused on civil litigation for a number of reasons. First, a majority of non-small-claims civil litigation is serviced by attorneys. This well-educated user base is generally motivated to reduce their operational costs. And with the use of E-filing in the USA Federal Courts being widespread, they are becoming very familiar with the technology. But state courts in particular are increasingly experiencing a significant transition in case participants to more and more self-representation. A recent compilation by the Knowledge and Information Services staff here at the NCSC reported that 66% of all cases heard in Minnesota courts involved the self-represented with a high of 81% of family cases. And Connecticut reported a 101% increase in the number of civil cases involving self-represented from 2005 to 2010.