Court systems getting help

Conference of State Court Administrators

Two national associations for state courts are drafting standards to help

the more than 16,000 state trial courts evaluate and upgrade their case

management systems, improve information sharing and streamline operations.

For the past three years, the Conference of State Court Administrators

(COSCA) and the National Association for Court Management (NACM) have been

jointly developing the information technology and data interchange standards

for case management systems. Those systems handle civil, criminal, domestic

relations, juvenile, appellate, probate and traffic cases.

So far, the initiative — called the Consortium for National Case Management

Automation Functional Standards Project — has produced functional standards

for civil cases, said James Pritchett, director of technology services for

the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). The center is providing staff

support to the organizations working on the project.

By year's end, Pritchett said he expected that standards for criminal,

domestic relations and juvenile cases would be approved, and next year,

standards for any remaining types of cases would be endorsed.

Pritchett said the standards would provide an incentive for technology

vendors to develop systems with similar communication, integration and e-filing

functions. That way, local, state and federal courts could exchange information.

He said vendors don't want to invest millions of dollars on a system that

would be used by only one entity.

He said state trial courts could share information on things like protection

orders for people who are moving from one jurisdiction to another. Many

courts, he said, have mainframe-based information systems that can't interface

with systems in their own jurisdiction, let alone with another jurisdiction's

systems.

National standards also would help courts to re-examine their business

processes as a template to develop new case-management systems, he said.

Pritchett said such standards aren't mandatory, but the consortium would

encourage state associations to adopt them.

COSCA, composed of state court administrators, advocates improvement

of state court systems. NACM consists of 2,500 members, including court

administrators, clerks of court, presiding judges and other court officials.

NCSC is a non-profit group representing the nation's state trial courts.

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