The Future of IT: Technology Visiting Committee Issues Report

The pace of technological change over the next three to five years will require the court system to continue to expand how it uses and delivers information technology (IT) to court users, judges, and staff.

To help achieve this goal, court leaders invited a visiting committee in February to assess and recommend a clear IT strategy for the Judiciary. The group, which included Chief Information Officers from Harvard University and MIT's Sloan School of Management, met over three months with court leaders and 10 panels of internal and external court technology users and partners. 

"On behalf of the court system, I thank the members of the Visiting Committee for the considerable time and energy they spent meeting with court constituencies and for so clearly framing their findings and recommendations," said Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey. "The process provides valuable, new perspectives as we seek continuous improvement across the court system."

"We were pleased to work with and support the activities of the Visiting Committee, and welcome their thoughts with gratitude and enthusiasm," added the Judiciary's Chief Information Officer Craig Burlingame. "We are very fortunate to have experts of this caliber close by and willing to support the courts in this way."  
 

Read the committee's 18-page report here: Report of the Massachusetts Court Technology Visiting Committee  pdf format of Visiting Committee Technology Report

 

Massachusetts Court Technology Visiting Committee - Summary of Key Findings (June 2016)

The visiting committee used the following four areas for its findings and recommendations:
• IT Strategy
• Execution
• Structure
• Culture 

Key Recommendations:
• Develop rolling, 3-year IT strategic plan
• Pursue IT capital and operational funding
• Implement and enhance some key technologies
• Establish meaningful performance metrics
• Create Judicial Information Services Department (JISD) organization and staff development plans
• Establish JISD Governance Model beyond MassCourts
• Examine possible partnerships with external parties and vendors
• Embrace user-oriented approach to JISD service delivery
• Improve communications and training

 

Court Technology: By the numbers...

Judicial Information Services recently provided the Chief Justices, Directors, and Deputy Court Administrators with some interesting statistics on MassCourts and other initiatives:

MassCourts

Attorney Portal: Active attorneys using the portal now total 9,176. There were 64,000 attorney log-in events in May, up from 55,500 in April. 

Public Access: In May there were 112,280 eAccess visitors, over twice the number at the beginning of the fiscal year.

Electronic Application for Criminal Complaint (EACC): 12,765 cases are now in the system. 

  • Participating courts: Twenty courts are now live, with at least one of their local police departments reporting. In March there were 1,000 EACC cases filed; June saw over 1,600 EACC cases filed.
  • Participating police departments: The Executive Office of Public Safety is funding software vendor TriTech to incorporate EACC (expected in December). The change will affect 200+ police departments. State Police are now testing this interface to their incident report system.

E-filing

Participating courts: Worcester District Court, Quincy District Court, Brighton Division of the Boston Municipal Court, and Essex Probate and Family Court pilots are operational in addition to three Appellate Court pilots.

Testing of Guide and File interview has started for small claims in stage environment now that pro-se filing modifications have been made by the vendor Tyler Technologies.

Evaluation Surveys will be sent soon to 974 attorneys registered with Tyler Technologies. A second survey will go out next to court employees who have used e-Filing. JISD aims to complete the evaluation process in July in order to plan next step expansions in August.

Video Conferencing

Participating Courts: There are now 116 video conferencing units deployed across the Trial Court, with 80 percent of court facilities having at least one unit. There has been a steady increase in the number of video conferencing events over the past six quarters, with some 9,500 unique events taking place between January 2015 and June 20, 2016. Of that total, over 4,800 bail reviews and more than 2,100 pretrial hearings were conducted via video conferencing.

Network Upgrades

Fifty-six court facilities (53 percent) currently have 10 mb circuits which expand locations' ability to send and receive data. The remaining 49 facilities require upgrades from T1 to 10mb circuits. The objective is to upgrade all remaining facilities to 10 mb by the fall.


Workstations, Scanners, and Printers
JISD is working with court departments to plan the configuration and distribution of new desktop computers, laptops for judges, desktop scanners and multi-function printers.  Printer replacements will target those "high mileage" printers, as well as models by random manufacturers.  JISD is working to reduce the variety of printers in use, since they create too many toner and repair requirements.  In addition, JISD will begin adding docking stations for judicial laptops at each bench to enable access to resources and documents.  Those installations will follow the deployment of the For the Record (FTR) digital recording systems.  As cabling for FTR is installed, additional cabling is being placed to expand digital access in the courtroom.