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September 2008

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


Website is Judges' One Stop for IT

Who gives the best advice to judges on how to pull information from the case management/electronic case files system, work with hyperlinks in opinions, create events calendars, or use e-mail? Turns out, it’s other judges. That is the idea behind a new website launched by the Federal Judicial Center with the Administrative Office, called Judges’ IT: Ideas and Best Practices for Chambers Automation. Many of the IT-related materials on the website are presented by judges, for judges.

“Judges speak the same language,” said Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie (M.D. Pa.), chair of the Judicial Conference Committee on Information Technology. “When they say they’re successful using an IT feature in their chambers, other judges tend to listen.”

The website is the brainchild of a Center roundtable held in February 2007 on the effective uses of IT for judges.

“We knew we had a lot of good material on IT topics scattered around the web, but we were disappointed by the degree to which they were used. Materials were hard to find,” said Vanaskie. “We wanted a one-stop option. One websitewhere judges could find IT training and tutorials that would improve how we function as judges.”

At the request of the Judicial Conference Committee on Information Technology, the Federal Judicial Center and the Administrative Office developed a website and launched it in mid-August.

On the webpages, judges have access to IT training materials, forums to discuss specific IT questions or problems, and technical help, if they need it. The training tutorials, grouped by subject, application, title, presenter, or date, provide initial instruction through demonstrations and guided practice simulations. The discussion forums allow judges to share their IT questions, solutions, and ideas with other judges. Forums have formed on case management, courtroom technology, opinion writing and remote access, among others.

“This website makes all the IT materials more accessible,” said Vanaskie.