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Technology in the CA Courts

by Colin Rule
November 2011

Novo Justice Blog by Colin Rule

Colin Rule
”The Court Technology Advisory Committee (CTAC), in its commitment to promoting the use of
technology in the California courts in order to enhance access to justice, proposes and invites
comment on the document titled Advancing Access to Justice Through Technology: Principles
for Judicial Branch Initiatives. All comments will be reviewed and considered before presenting
the technology principles to the Judicial Council for adoption. Click here for the full text of the proposal.

CTAC is committed to advancing the use of technology in the courts, both to improve
operational efficiencies and to expand access for court users. With the deployment of statewide
court technologies and the increasing use of electronic filing and portals for accessing electronic case records, CTAC’s goal is to ensure that courts continue to develop policies and technologies that protect and foster equal access to justice.

To that end, CTAC has created guiding principles to help leaders of technology initiatives in the judicial branch address issues of access, particularly for self-represented litigants and other underserved communities, as they seek to modernize California’s courts. Through the use of focus groups, surveys, research, and analysis, the committee developed a set of principles in order to provide a solid framework on which current and future technology-related policies can be built. The proposals have not been approved by the Judicial Council and are not intended to represent the views of the council, its Rules and Projects Committee, or its Policy Coordination and Liaison Committee.

CTAC is particularly sensitive and mindful of the current economic crisis facing the judicial
branch and California as a whole. These technology principles do not obligate or introduce new
expenditures by the courts, nor do they imply that courts must invest in or modify existing
solutions. The committee also recognizes the importance of having a set of principles in place as a framework for technology project decision-making in the future when funding may be
available. The proposal consists of the following 10 principles, each followed by a discussion of rationale and implications:

1. Ensure Access and Fairness. Use technologies that allow all court users to have
impartial and effective access to justice.
2. Include Self-Represented Litigants. Provide services to those representing themselves
and those represented by attorneys.
3. Preserve Traditional Access. Retain conventional means of access to courts for persons challenged by technology.
4. Design for Ease of Use. Build services that are user-friendly and widely available.
5. Provide Education and Support. Develop and roll out training and support for all
technology solutions, particularly those intended for use by the public.
6. Secure Private Information. Design services to comply with privacy laws and to assure
users that personal information is properly protected.
7. Provide Reliable Information. Ensure the accurateness and timeliness of information
provided to judges, parties, and others.
8. Protect Legal Rights. Define remedies to guarantee that users do not forfeit legal rights
when technologies fail or when users are unable to operate systems successfully.
9. Improve Court Operations. Advance court operational practices to make full use of
technology and, in turn, provide better service to court users.
10. Plan Ahead. Create technology solutions that are forward thinking and that enable courts to adapt to the changing expectations of the public and court users.”
Interesting that the courts are engaging the issue so holistically.

Biography


Colin Rule has worked at the intersection of technology and conflict resolution for the last two decades. He is CEO of Modria.com, an online dispute resolution service provider in Silicon Valley, and a non-resident Fellow at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. From 2003 to 2011, he served as eBay and PayPal's first director of Online Dispute Resolution, designing and implementing systems that now resolve more than 60 million disputes each year. Mr. Rule is the author of Online Dispute Resolution for Business, published by Jossey-Bass in September 2002. He has presented and trained around the world for organizations including the U.S. Department of State, UNCITRAL, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution, as well as teaching at UMass-Amherst, Stanford, Southern Methodist University, and Hastings College of the Law. He has written and been interviewed extensively about the Internet since 1999, with columns and articles appearing in ACResolution, Consensus, Dispute Resolution Magazine, and Peace Review. He holds a master's degree from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in conflict resolution and technology, a B.A. in peace studies from Haverford College, and he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Eritrea from 1995-1997.



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Website: www.modria.com

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