An Open-Source System for Electronic Court Filing
Over the past several years, court technology has gone through many changes. Most notable is the drive to facilitate the electronic filing of documents by using open-source solutions. Many people have led separate projects that attempted to provide a blueprint for proper electronic integration with court case management systems (CMSes). To date, large-scale success has not been demonstrated in the legal electronic filing industry, although many small projects have shown promise. All of this may be about to change, however, as the federal and state court systems start to embrace and support open-source software.
Each year, approximately 90 million cases are filed in the 17,500 courts in the United States. These cases generate more than 1.5 billion documents. Aside from the environmental impact, this creates a mountain of paperwork for court staffs. In addition, storage and indexing costs associated with archiving and retrieving documents are high. Many courts are starting to look toward integrated electronic systems to cut down on the quantity of paperwork and streamline day-to-day operations. Most courts now use some form of computer-based case management system or document management system (DMS).
The idea behind electronic court filing is to allow lawyers and the general public to submit documents to the court over the Internet. Law firms already generate an electronic version of any document they plan to file with a court. When filed electronically, the document automatically is placed in a DMS, and the pertinent case information is placed in a CMS.
The current accepted model of how filings should be generated and passed to a court involves three major components. The first is an electronic filing service provider (EFSP), the organization responsible for constructing an electronic legal filing. There could be many of these organizations in any given legal jurisdiction, all competing for a per-filing fee paid by lawyers and pro se litigants (people who represent themselves in court) who use their service. The second component is an electronic filing manager (EFM). The EFM has a one-to-one relationship with a court. All EFSPs that offer the ability to file documents with a specific court need to communicate with that court's EFM. Court personnel use the EFM to review filed documents to ensure that any court-specific rules have been followed. The final component is an adapter that communicates between the EFM and the court's CMS and DMS systems. This adapter relays the documents and case information associated with the filing to the court's information systems. Figure 1 shows the organization of this model.
A major hurdle to providing this type of functionality is that almost every CMS used by courts today has been customized on some level to fit specific needs of individual courts. Many courts even have developed their own custom solutions in-house. These differences require the EFM to CMS and DMS adapters to be rewritten for every court. In response to this problem, many court professionals have pushed for an industry-endorsed standard for transmitting data between legal systems. Winchel “Todd” Vincent III, founder of Legal XML, stated: “Having an agreed-upon specification to use can greatly reduce the amount of work required to provide complicated system integration. It allows for all involved parties to work on the problem together, instead of reinventing the wheel over and over again.” In addition to an industry standard, there also is a drive to provide an open-source EFM.
In November 1998, Legal XML was established as a nonprofit organization. The goal was to provide open, nonproprietary technical specifications for exchanging legal documents and to organize the related information. It attracted participants from private industry, other nonprofit organizations, government and academia. Legal XML originally produced a DTD-based specification, which eventually was used to help courts exchange information by way of XML.
The completeness of the Legal XML 1.0 specification was put to the test when the Georgia Court Automation Committee (GCAC) used it during an interoperability pilot project. This project acted as a proof of concept for the electronic filing approach previously described. The first standards-based electronic filings to occur in the nation were a result of this project. Filings were generated and received through systems run by different software providers, proving the feasibility of interoperability based on open standards. Both federal agencies and state courts actively followed the project.
The interoperability phase of this project consisted of three EFM installations. Two of the EFMs facilitated filings with county superior courts; the other EFM interfaced with a county state court. Three providers managed the individual EFMs. Four companies provided EFSP interfaces that were used successfully to file with all three EFMs. Between January 2003 and January 2004, more than 1,000 filings were processed electronically. The project was considered a success. Since its completion, several law enforcement agencies in Georgia now file electronically on a daily basis.
After the Georgia Interoperability project, integration challenges led to talk of an open-source solution, and the topic started to spread among the electronic filing community. The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) led the way and was one of open source's bigger proponents, releasing an open-source EFM, inCounter, using the standard Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/Python/PHP (LAMP) approach. inCounter was designed to be a demonstrative application to showcase electronic filing capability and to promote an open-source solution. counterclaim, Inc., the company this author works with, concurrently released OpenEFM, a 100% Java application.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide