Monday, December 17, 2007
Electronic Court Records (ECR) at King County Wins "Innovation in American Government" Award from Harvard
On September 24, 2007, at a lavish dinner at the United States Chamber of Commerce building in Washington, DC, seven winners of the 2007 "Innovations in American Goverment Awards" were announced, including the King County Superior Court Clerk's "Electronic Court Records (ECR) Program." The prize was awarded by the Ash Institute for Innovation and Democratic Governance at the John F. Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University. This was the 20th year of the Innovations awards program.
Along with the certificate and the honor of it all, the Clerk's Office received a grant of $100,000 to promote replication of its innovation in other governments. Some $30,000 of the award were earmarked for a documentary being made by the "Visionaries," a documentary team whose work can be seen on the Ash Institute's Web site. They produced 2-minute videos for each of the seven winners, all of which were shown at the awards dinner and which constituted the official announcement. Winners had been notifed months before, because each had to collaborate with the Ash Institute on publicity and had to prepare for the two-day visit by the Visionaries team who would conduct interviews and film to produce the raw materials from which the documentaries would be edited. A longer video of nearly 15 minutes in length will be paired up with another winner's story, combined into a 1/2 hour program, to be aired on Public Television in the winter of 2008 in a program called "The Visionaries," narrated by Sam Waterston.
Recognizing that ECR would never have worked without the hard, hard work of the staff of the Department of Judicial Administration (DJA), Barbara Miner, the Director, led celebrations back in Seattle and a copy of the winning certificate was given to each and every employee.
Pursuant to the award, the Ash Institute will be finding ways to promote awareness of our program. For example, we'll be doing an interview that will be part of an upcoming Public Radio broadcast.
I noticed that Ash Institute people have discovered this blog's existence and have mentioned it in their materials about us. Therefore, it is probably a good idea for me to review what's here from the past and to begin to revive this site as a place to discuss my own activities with the OASIS LegalXML Member Section and the Electronic Court Filing Technical Committee, as well as to bring potential readers up to date on what has happened with ECR since I stopped posting nearly 3 1/2 years or so ago.
Roger WintersPersonal E-Mail: rwintersWA@Gmail.com or firstname.lastname@example.orgTelephone: (206) 296-7838 (work) (206) 755-2526 (all other calls)
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Saturday, June 14, 2003
PANEL TO ADDRESS E-FILING STANDARDS AT NACM ANNUAL CONFERENCE
On July 15, 2003, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., I'll be participating in a panel on electronic court filing standards at the National Association for Court Management's annual conference. Details to follow.
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Monday, April 28, 2003
E-COURTS 2002 - HANDOUT FROM ROGER WINTERS' PRESENTATION
The National Center for State Courts hosted "E-Courts 2002," a conference in Las Vegas last December, where I was asked to speak about electronic filing standards, technical and functional. The handout for the slides for that presentation is available now at http://www.e-courts.org/winters-ecourt-handouts.pdf. (Some of the slides don't display quite correctly on paper, since this was an animated and somewhat entertaining PowerPoint presentation, but the content of the presentation outline is almost all evident there.) If you are interested in seeing the 39-page paper presented in the conference handbook, please let me know by e-mail to me at email@example.com. (I have a somewhat updated version available as well.)
The technical and functional standards for electronic court filing have been approved by the boards of the National Association for Court Management (NACM) and the Council of State Court Administrators (COSCA) as "Recommended Standards" for electronic filing in the courts of the United States. In future messages, I will try to describe, as non-technically as I can, what the standards are and what they mean to those of us who are involved with the courts.
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Thursday, March 13, 2003
WASHINGTON STATE BAR ASSOCIATION "EC2" LOOKS AT BLOGS
Today, I participated in a demonstration of blogs for the members of the Washington State Bar Association's "Electronic Communications Committee," known familiarly as "EC2."
Two of us on the committee have done work with blogs and we recounted our experiences. I was able to go online during the meeting and make a few changes in today's posting and show the results being published. Since I use Blogger and publish to Blogspot, I explained, it is possible to maintain this sort of site without having to be a programmer or an HTML expert.
The committee discussed the question of what use blogs might be to the practicing member of the Washington State Bar Association. These ideas were offered:
1) Those who are experts in a particular area of practice, litigation, etc., could use a blog as a place to store what they know in terms of links and written matter. One could choose to let others know about the blog or not, depending on whether one published to a site where it would be possible to control who accesses it.
2) A blog also provides a way for someone who is recognized as an expert to avoid having to answer the same basic questions over and over again. One can say, "Go read my blog and then come back with any questions you might still have."
3) Attorneys doing research should become interested in looking for blogs put together by subject matter experts. Some discussion came up about how we would go about searching out such blogs and how would we know they were legitimate? If there is a way to see how many other legal blogs link back to the one you're using, you sort of have an E-bay like measure based on the confidence indicated by others.
Discussion of blogs led to some discussion of other little-known or little-appreciated things attorneys might do well to hear about. These included the "Invisible Web" and the challenges involved in searching out and using resources from it and learning about various favorite utilities, search engines, software, and so forth that people are using. Someone mentioned www.atomica.com and their desktop reference tool (which used to be free but now costs something) as an example of something that a user might use almost every day.
EC2 is a successor group to the "Bench/Bar Computerization Council," which I first started attending around 1989 or 1990. It was known as "B2C2," so you can see there's a bit of tradition there. Some of the B2C2 activists are EC2 activists, still dedicated to the ongoing exploration and expansion of the use of technology among attorneys in the state of Washington.
In the early '90s, one of the group's main projects was to create and manage a "BBS," Bulletin Board System, and to populate it with as many legal resources as possible. Participants explored exchanging electronic messages on the BBS, and even had discussion threads on various topics. Some of us actually got ourselves "E-Mail" accounts we could use for broader communication with the 5 or 10 million other close friends who were becoming the population of the new planet known as "The Internet." Those were the days!
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Friday, November 15, 2002
REVIVING THE BLOG
I have neglected this "Blog" for a while, adding nothing from July 25 until October. Much has happened, however, which I will report on in more detail in subsequent postings. Among the significant developments are:
a) adoption of the Court Filing 1.1 Recommended Standard by the Joint Technology Committee of the Council of State Court Administrators/National Association for Court Management (COSCA/NACM),
b) initial online meetings for OASIS Legal XML technical committees, including "Court Filing," "Integrated Justice," "E-Notary," "Legislative Documents," "Contracts," and "Transcripts," with the startup meeting for "Online Dispute Resolution" to come soon.
c) adoption of the Electronic Court Filing Functional Standards by the JTC of COSCA/NACM followed by a 90-day comment period that ended October 21st, and
d) selection of yours truly to speak about "E-Filing Standards" at the National Center for State Courts' "E-Court 2002 Conference," scheduled for December 9-11, 2002, at the Aladdin Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. More details to come....
REMINDER AND NOTE FOR NEW READERS: How to use this "Blog" most effectively:
1. Read from the bottom entry upward. The bottom entry was the first; each subsequent entry appears above it. That's the way the "free" Blogger software works.
2. If the bottom entry isn't dated May 9, 2002, check to make sure that the "Blog" viewer is set to show "All" postings. As the Blog grows in size, earlier messages will not be displayed automatically; you have to extend the viewing range.
3. Follow links that interest you by clicking on them. I recommend right-clicking and selecting "Open in New Window," so you can always keep your place here.
4. Report any "broken links" to me , so I can correct them.
5. Ask questions about things you don't understand.
6. Let me know what you find valuable here and what you find less helpful.
I look forward to seeing you, perhaps, at the National Center for State Courts' "E-Court 2002 Conference" in Las Vegas, December 9-11!
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Friday, November 08, 2002
COURTS AND ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES - FEDERAL JUDICIARY COMMENTS ON THE "ESIGN" ACT
This week, the Federal Judiciary, through the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, submitted official comments this week to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on the "ESIGN" Act. The Act, passed in 2000, authorized use of electronic signatures (without specifying the type, technology, or other details) for business, consumer, and commercial use, exempting court documents from its scope. These comments state that the Federal Judiciary believes the exemption for courts should continue, mainly due to courts being a separate branch of government responsible for their own rules. (Take a look at the federal courts' "Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF)" system that many bankruptcy and district courts are using for electronic filing and document management.)
The comments include information about how electronic signing is being handled in Federal Courts (emphasis supplied):
“… the Federal Rules of Practice and Procedure authorize federal courts of all types to permit court papers to be signed by electronic means. Filing a document with a court through CM/ECF requires a login and password issued by the court. All the courts accepting electronic filing have stated that a document filed with a particular login and password is deemed to have been signed by the person to whom they were issued. In most courts, a visible sign that the document was signed, e.g., a typed /name of signer/, must appear on the document. No specific propriety signing software is required.
In civil cases in district court and in bankruptcy courts accepting electronic filing, most courts presently require that documents signed by non-filers (e.g., parties, affiants, etc.) contain either a scanned copy of the non-filer's signature or a typed name, and that a signed original be retained by the person filing the document. Electronic filing in criminal cases is just beginning to occur. Consideration of how best to handle signatures of non-filers in a way that protects the rights and interests of all concerned is a process that will be ongoing as experience develops. “
The complete Comments of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts on behalf of the Federal Judiciary to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Department of Commerce regarding the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) is available at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/frnotices/2002/esign/court/comments/fedjudiciary/fedjudiciary.htm.
I believe there a two important principles to draw from this:
1) Although there has been substantial development of the Public-Private Key Infrastructure (PKI) digital signature technology -- with signing software and procedures that make it extremely hard to falsify a signed document -- there is no standard that businesses or government are willing to embrace yet and no dominant product or provider who might, as Adobe has done with PDF, establish a de facto standard.
2) Notice how the federal procedures allow for the insertion of an image of a signature in a document signed by a non-party (see above). It is considered the equivalent to inserting a "typed name" in the document that is filed electronically. The filer is obliged to maintain the original-signed (sometimes called "wet-signature") document so it could be produced if needed by the court. The principle is that an image of a signature is not considered to be the official electronic signature on a document. I can think of no easier way to "forge" a signature than to scan it, save it in a graphic format, and insert it into the electronic document. Many who advocate for that sort of "digitized" signature believe, incorrectly, that the picture of the signature constitutes some sort of proof. They forget that for the most part no one checks signatures on hard copy documents. When there is some sort of probable cause to suggest a document might have been tampered with or a signature forged, it is not the document format that determines what is the truth -- it is the Court, applying evidence, law, testimony, rules, and judgment, who ultimately decide what is legally true.
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Thursday, October 24, 2002
***CANCELED*** "LIVE" CLASS ON ELECTRONIC DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT - DUE TO LOW ENROLLMENTS
I was to be the instructor for a course on Electronic Document Management, one of the National Center for State Courts' Institute for Court Management (ICM) Fall 2002 Distance Learning Live Web programs. Unfortunately, low enrollments led the National Center to cancel the class for this offering. It will be rescheduled to a later date to be determined. Here is the link for the details about their distance learning classes and information on how to enroll: http://www.ncsconline.org/d_icm/icmcourses_wedm.html.
If you have come here following the link included with the course description, welcome! I hope you will find information, links, and resources here that will help you to understand more about what has been going on in the nation's courts relative to electronic document technology and the management challenges that brings.
This "Blog" is a kind of introduction to the field of electronic court records and electronic filing, with the King County (Seattle, Washington) Superior Court Clerk's Office, where I work, as a living example, a case study. I recommend that people studying in this field review the case study article in edoc magazine, July/August 2000 issue. It provides a lot of detail about establishing a large imaging and electronic court records system, lessons learned, and the context in which that system was conceptualized.
Our vision in King County has never been limited to document imaging, filing of PDF formatted electronic documents, or some other end point. We have envisioned an unfolding, evolutionary development of electronic court records, electronic filing and access to records, and ever-improving technical applications that make all of that of great service to the Court. One point I may make more often than is necessary: It is the court's business needs that drives the use of technology, not the availability and features of technology driving a court to adapt its business to that technology.
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Thursday, July 25, 2002
LEGAL XML COURT FILING WORK GROUP NOW PART OF OASIS
Legal XML, formed in 1999, is an all-volunteer association of vendors, court administrators, clerks, academics, and other stakeholders concerned about electronic filing and legal document standards, using the Extensible Markup Language (XML). This year, to access a substantial infrastructure dedicated to groups working on technical standards for XML and related matters, Legal XML became the "Legal XML Court Filing Technical Committee" within OASIS, the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards. OASIS is located at www.oasis-open.org. The site for the Court Filing Technical Committee ("the TC") is OASIS LegalXML Electronic Court Filing TC.
To participate in the TC, in the "members-only" list where decisions are officially made, one must become a member of OASIS. For non-profits and government agencies, the annual fee is $1,000 and it allows the organization to name any number of employees as "members" for the purpose of participating in the TC's list. There is one vote per organization, however. For those who are not members, there is a comment list open to anyone for no cost. Since the postings to the members' list are immediately posted to the list's archive, someone who can't afford membership but who wants to stay up-to-date on what's going on can, in effect, do so almost in real time. Comments from the outside are channeled through the TC's "Ombudsman," according to OASIS practices. You can't post directly to the members' list, but you can contact the co-chairs or other members whom you might know and make your suggestions.
Now that the TC is in place, look for a fairly rapid development of specification drafts, review cycles, and so forth.
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Tuesday, June 25, 2002
DIGITAL RECORDS PRESERVATION? SEE GOVERNMENT TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE
This article addresses the important question of how digital records are to be preserved over time. I think it is high time that records management professionals stopped crying alarms about this issue and started finding the solutions. It is not, after all, likely that digital documents and records will be abandoned because we're uncomfortable with new technology and don't know what will compare, for digital records, with microfilm for paper records. In another entry, I'll address how the Washington State County Clerks have addressed using electronic media for ongoing preservation of court records.
You should consider subscribing to Goverment Technology. It's usually free, at least for people in government.
Electronic information is easier to manage than paper, right? Tell that to records managers and archivists.
By Tod Newcombe - June 2002
The Land Records Division in Fairfax County, Va., has achieved something quite remarkable. It has shrunk the amount of incoming paper records, thanks to a new computer system that allows the division to accept real estate filings electronically.
Already, the office that houses land records is in the enviable position of having too much room on its premises. Gone are the rows of shelves with bound books containing real estate documents dating back for decades. The office no longer needs them.
Fairfax and a handful of other counties that accept electronic real estate documents represent the future of government: all electronic, all the time. But others wonder if state and local governments are entering uncharted waters as public records increasingly become electronic. Paper records may be a nuisance when it comes to storing and retrieving them. But at least we know we can read them when we find them. That's not the situation when it comes to electronic records. The world of digitized information is awash with competing formats and incompatible standards that change as technology changes.
The Council on Library and Information Resources, a nonprofit group that supports ways to keep information accessible, predicts that future generations will know more about the Civil War than the Gulf War. Why? Because the software that enables us to read the electronic records concerning the events of 1991 have already become obsolete. Just ask the folks who bought document-imaging systems from Wang the year that Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Not only is Wang no longer in business, but locating a copy of the proprietary software, as well as any hardware, used to run the first generation of imaging systems is about as easy as finding a typewriter repairman.
The time and expense needed to keep up with the fast-changing digital world is enormous. For example, AIIM International, the industry group representing records and document management vendors, estimates the market for digital preservation is in the tens of billions of dollars. The pharmaceutical industry, which is contending with a mandate from the Federal Drug Administration to electronically submit new drug applications, has said that the cost of long-term maintenance of electronic records will far exceed what it spent on Y2K.
Within government, the situation is hardly better. The National Archives and Records Administration found that the quality of record-keeping practices among federal agencies varied considerably. For example, the dramatic rise in e-mail use has led to confusion concerning when an e-mail is a public record and when it's just a transitory document that can be disposed. Few can explain the difference in terms of public records when a low-level employee invites a high-level official to lunch via e-mail and the official accepts the invitation with a one-word e-mail that says, "Yes."
The growth in electronic records, coupled with the lack of knowledge on how to handle them, has created one of biggest challenges to federal records managers in recent memory. The same situation holds true in state and local government, where e-mail, real estate transactions and tax returns, to name just a few records that have become electronic, are proliferating at a rapid rate.
Just ask Hope Morgan, the director of information technology services at the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC), which oversees the state's oil and gas industry. She must ensure that the commission's technology doesn't fall out of step with its electronic records.
"We're constantly asking ourselves, 'How do we retain and access electronic records that must be stored permanently?'" she said. Along with keeping software in sync with the formats in which the records are stored, Morgan also worries about investing in enough storage hardware and software to keep up with the volumes of records.
Recognizing the Issue
Before answering those questions, Morgan says agencies need to recognize that electronic records management is an issue that must be dealt with now, not down the road. Morgan did this by working with the commission's Information Management Services and the general counsel to identify key issues they had to address from a policy, management and technology perspective.
According to Susan Cisco, RRC's assistant director for information management services, the world of records management is finally moving in the direction of standards. She said the Department of Defense now requires that any vendor selling records-management technology to the Pentagon meet standards based on operational, legislative and legal needs.
Also, the ISO, the international organization for standardization, has released ISO 15489-1 for information and documentation of records management. The standard sets the parameters within which a records management program should be established, regardless of the size of the organization or the level of technology used. "Five years ago, no standards existed for records management," said Cisco. "Today, I'm happy there are two standards we can work from."
From the legal perspective, the Railroad Commission is concerned about setting policy for the retention of e-mail as a public document, according to Debra Ravel, a staff attorney with the commission's General Law Division. Ravel emphasized the need for standards for records management overall and for procedures to deal with e-mail in particular. "Our job is to make sure electronic documents, such as e-mail, are properly maintained because so many of our records are of interest to both the general public and litigators," she explained.
When it comes to records management, the content of the e-mail should determine whether it's a record or not, rather than the medium. That's how Minnesota spells out the general basis for e-mail records management. The State Archives has issued a series of guidelines for employees to follow as they review their electronic-records-management practices. These guidelines range from basic strategies to file naming, file formats, storage procedures, digital media options, as well as Web content policies, the distinctions between electronic and digital signatures and legal considerations.
Like Minnesota, Virginia also stresses that a record's content, not the medium, is what matters when it comes to retention. And like Minnesota, Virginia is hoping that by educating its employees about sound records-management practices, it can avoid the problems that the federal government has run into with electronic records. "We have analysts assigned to state and local agencies to make sure they know what's going on in terms of retention schedules," said Robert Nawrocki, CRM, Virginia's electronic records coordinator.
From a technology perspective, the challenge for electronic-records managers is keeping a long-term view of where records management is headed, paying attention to what's happening with software and making sure agencies have a migration plan in place. "They have to watch out because software isn't always backwards compatible," Nawrocki explained.
And they have to budget for a continuous investment in keeping their records and technology in sync.
Nawrocki believes the state is doing fairly well in managing its electronic records, but he worries about what's happening at the local level, where adherence to policies and procedures is less uniform and where budgets are tighter, making it harder for cities and counties to maintain up-to-date standards for retaining records in an accessible format.
Another concern at the state level is the proliferation of Web-based transactions, as well as documents, that may not be recorded according to state policies, or retained as a public record. "We need to capture those transactions as they happen," urged Nawrocki.
Finally, there's the constant nightmare that somehow today's spreadsheets and documents -- whether they are in HTML or PDF format -- may not be accessible or readable 25 years from now. Will we end up with a gap in our public records due to shortsightedness on the part of government? That's one question government records managers hope they won't face.
Additional material may be available for this article online: http://www.govtech.net/magazine/story.phtml?id=3030000000010445
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Tuesday, June 11, 2002
PRIVACY AND COURT RECORDS
Here is a link to an article by former Washington State Supreme Court Justice Philip Talmadge, addressing the question of privacy as it regards court records that might, in the future, be accessible via the Internet: Washington State Courts: Privacy of Court Records
The privacy question has been challenging. On the one hand, court records are public records; on the other, they often contain personal information that can be used for such things as harrassment, identity theft, and worse. Some feel the "practical obscurity" of these records that comes from one having to go to the courthouse to check out paper files needs to be taken into account. Others argue that public records are always public and that the methods of access are immaterial to that.
What do you think?
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Thursday, June 06, 2002
UPCOMING PORTLAND COURT CONFERENCE
Join me in figuring out "What do I do with all these Xs?"
Just a heads up...
If you're involved with the National Association for Court Management and planning to attend the July 21-26 Conference in Portland, Oregon, this link is for registering and making arrangements: NACM 2002 Annual Conference Information
I'll be there as a speaker, along with Karl Heckart, Chief Information Officer for the Supreme Court of Arizona. We'll be presenting the sessions (July 22, morning and again in the afternoon) titled, "IT Forum Track State of the Industry: What Do I Do with All These Xs?" We'll try to demystify XML and the related alphabet soup that court managers have been hearing about, to help them recognize their role in managing these developments in electronic document and information technology.
If you've read my blog and you're there, please say, "Hello!"
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Thursday, May 30, 2002
ELECTRONIC FILING POLICIES AND FUNCTIONAL STANDARDS
This is YOUR Chance to Influence Electronic Filing Processes!
From Rory Perry's Radio Weblog, which he describes as, "A state supreme court clerk's perspective on law, technology, and the courts," here is an announcement about Electronic Filing Policies and Functional Standards:
Standards for Electronic Filing Processes Out for Comment until June 16
A working draft of policy and functional standards for electronic filing processes in the courts have been placed for public comment until June 16, 2002. The draft appears on the National Center's Standards page. Direct links to the lengthy documents: [105 pg. PDF, 108 pg. Word]. The final work product is scheduled to be presented to the National Consortium for State Court Automation Standards and the COSCA/NACM Joint Technology Committee in July 2002. For more info on court XML initiatives, I recommend Robin Cover's piece on the COSCA/NACM JTC project.
I'm delighted that Mr. Perry and others are getting the word out about these important standards. I had the privilege of being involved in their development, as one of the "Joint Standards Development" (JSD) team convened in February in Atlanta to get these started. The staff work has been provided by Greacen Associates, which is led by John Greacen, who has been the co-chair and leader of the Legal XML group and, more, of the Court Filing Work Group.
I recommend that anyone in any court where electronic filing is being considered seriously should read these proposed standards, not hesitating to raise questions and share comments before the June 16 deadline.
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Monday, May 13, 2002
DETAILS OF THE KING COUNTY PLANNING PROCESS
Including Links to Resource Documents
Here at King County we went through a long process of planning and getting ready to develop an electronic document management system (the ECR system). We did a fair amount of writing and engaged two excellent consultants to help us. We were breaking new ground. Some courts had imaging (usually parallel to keeping the paper records in a file room), but it didn't appear to us that they had envisioned it as part of a movement toward electronic records.
One key document was a "Master Plan" we adopted in 1998 in the Department of Judicial Administration. I recommend to everyone who asks me about how to do similar things that they should build their own "Master Plan" documents. For us, it got the concepts and goals into writing, ensured that there would be a shared understanding among all of the stakeholders, and we all had something concrete to talk about. We were moving from theory toward practice. The Master Plan also helped us break our long-term vision down into stages, phases that could be pursued one after another. Our philosophy was that each phase would be a step forward, creating something that would remain of value to the Court and the Clerk's Office even if we were never able to complete the next phase. It was an important lesson we learned.
So, I have two links to take you back to those times and show you how a complex process unfolded. First, we wrote a Final Report to the State Justice Institute to tell them what we had accomplished with a $90,000 grant they awarded to us that we used in 1996-1997. This Report contains a summary and a number of appendices, all of which are provided in Word (DOC) and PDF formats. Appendix I includes the Master Plan.
A second link is to an article which was co-authored by then-Presiding Judge Dale B. Ramerman, then-Superior Court Clerk Jan Michels (now Executive Director of WSBA, the Washington State Bar Association), and me on "Lessons Learned." This is substantially the same article that was published in two other journals in the court administration area, as a "Management Note" in the State Justice System Journal, Vol. 20, No. 2 (1999), and in The Court Manager, Vol. 14, No. 3 (1999), neither of which has an electronic link available. Read our "Lessons Learned" document at the WSBA Web site.
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Thursday, May 09, 2002
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION TO ELECTRONIC COURT RECORDS IN KING COUNTY, WASHINGTON
Welcome! This "E-Court Records" blog is intended to provide information and links about electronic court records. What you find here is based on my own experience as the Electronic Court Records Manager for the Superior Court Clerk's Office in King County (Seattle) over the past several years. This blog is not an official product of the Superior Court or the Clerk's Office. Opinions that are expressed here are my own, based on my perspective and experiences. Where I realize my ideas might differ from the official position of either organization, I will take pains to point to the differences.
Material you'll find here on document imaging and electronic filing is based on the experience of the King County (Washington) Department of Judicial Administration (the Superior Court Clerk). In our large, urban court, we have moved from paper file systems to an electronic document management system we call "Electronic Court Records (ECR)." With a few exceptions, after imaging, the paper submitted for filing is not retained. The official record is the electronic image. We have already created an electronic library of over 140 million pages (nearly 40 million documents), all of which are accessible within our court and county offices through a browser-based image viewer. The records are available for public viewing using PCs in the Clerk's Office. Sealed, confidential records are available only to persons authorized access by statute or court order.
Information will also be posted that is based on the "Electronic Filing Project" now in development as an addition/expansion of the ECR system.
This blog will also provide information about the work of "Legal XML," a volunteer movement to build open, public standards for using XML in legal documents of all kinds. This international collaboration, now becoming a Member Section of OASIS (at www.oasis-open.org). In particular, we'll provide information on the activities and work products of the "Court Filing Technical Committee," which has already published one recommended standard for electronically filing documents in courts. I have served as the Editor of that recommended standard, "Court Filing XML Version 1.1."
To begin to learn about these subjects, you should review an article I co-authored in "edoc" magazine (published by AIIM, the Association for Imaging and Information Management), for it provides an overview with extensive detail about the ECR project and the context in which it was conceptualized, defined, and implemented. You will find the article at http://www.edocmagazine.com/vault_articles.asp?ID=20551&header=e_cs_header.gif.
Future entries in this blog will drill down deeper and deeper into ideas, issues, resources, and practical experience in all of these areas.
-- Roger Winters, Electronic Court Records (ECR) Program Manager (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org)
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