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February 2007

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This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.


Grants Encourage Sharing of Locally Developed Applications

Five information technology proposals will be developed—and shared—within the federal courts in fiscal year 2007, thanks to grants from the Edwin L. Nelson Local Initiatives Program.

The Local Initiatives Program encourages and promotes the development of local court IT systems that can be shared with other court units. For FY 2007, there was a specific interest in grant proposals to support chambers’ business processes. Among other criteria, successful proposals must provide functional capability not currently available through a national IT project; support a common or shared process in more than one court; and be developed and supported in collaboration with two or more court units, representing a minimum of two districts. Successful projects also must be made available on Ed’s Place for use by other courts.

Ed’s Place is a Judiciary accessible website named for the late Judge Edwin L. Nelson, former chair of the Judicial Conference Committee on Information Technology. Nelson actively promoted an awareness and the sharing among courts of automation designed for court unit business processes. The website hosts locally developed applications and encourages awareness, collaboration, and partnership in the support of new application development efforts among the courts.

FY 2007 IT Grants

The Integra Imaging 3.0 Project will produce imaging and document management software that can be used directly with the Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ ECF) system. Current applications to do this are excessively complicated and do not offer the necessary performance and reliability. Integra Suite 3.0 will interact directly with CM/ECF, supplying all the necessary tools to process and manage documents faster and in a more integrated and secure environment. It will allow users to scan files, manipulate PDFs, extract CM/ECF images, import large PDF files into CM/ECF, and expose scanned images to docketing. The project is sponsored by the Districts of Nevada and Arkansas, and the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

The Law Clerk/Chambers Staff Automation Training Project recognizes that even the most computer-savvy law clerks are unfamiliar with court systems such as CM/ECF, PACER/CHASER, and the advanced tools used to work with PDF documents in CM/ECF. The project will design and develop desktop tutorial and simulation modules to train chambers staff in CM/ECF, WordPerfect, Lotus Notes, Westlaw and Adobe Acrobat Standard. The project’s advanced training can transform case processing workflow into an entirely electronic environment, leading to increased productivity and reduced costs. This project is sponsored by the Districts of Utah and Nebraska.

The Electronic Scheduling Program (ESP) will migrate the ESP 6.0 CM/ECF calendaring application to a web-based interface for its users. ESP 6.0 provides a seamless web interface through CM/ECF for setting, resetting, continuing, and editing hearings, but does not provide the same interface for viewing calendars, adding case and hearing notes, appointments, reporting, etc. Providing a single interface accessible on the web improves the ability of judicial officers and their staff to from any court location, remote sites, or travel destinations. The program is sponsored by the Bankruptcy Courts for the Southern District of Florida, Northern District of Texas, the Eastern District of Kentucky, and the District of Oregon.

The Satellite Drug Detection and Supervision Reporting Project addresses geographic barriers that inhibit supervision services in Probation and Pretrial Services in the Districts of Hawaii, Guam and Montana. It merges multiple technologies into a single application to enable officers to conduct non-invasive drug testing and to fully participate in reporting sessions with defendants and offenders without having to be physically on-site with them. This project is sponsored by the Probation and Pretrial Services Offices in the Districts of Hawaii, Montana and Guam.

The Vehicle Reservation System will replace an existing paper log system to reserve official vehicles for probation and pretrial services officers with a web-based application. Currently, officers must visit the office and select and reserve a vehicle for immediate or future use by signing their names in a log, before taking vehicle keys. A web-based program lets officers reserve official vehicles from their desks, and eliminates re-typing the paper log. This project is sponsored by the Probation and Pretrial Services Offices in the District of Puerto Rico and the Southern District of Florida.