Law, Decision-Making, and Microcomputers: Cross-National Perspectives

By Stuart S. Nagel | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
The Courthouse of the Future

George Nicholson


INTRODUCTION

The "Courthouse of the future" is much needed right now. This is due to crushing burdens imposed by exploding civil and criminal caseloads, joined with everincreasing complexities in civil and criminal law and procedure, often greatly exacerbated by anachronistic use of duplicative, manual entry, hand-filled, faultily indexed, poorly monitored, inadequately validated administrative practices and processes in far too many courts. Administrative services are not the only courthouse activities that can be analyzed, facilitated, and improved. So, too, may judicial practices and processes. Thus, two vital elements, administrative and judicial services, are inextricably intertwined. Both must be carefully considered and, eventually, fully integrated so as to properly plan and transform an existing courthouse or to structure a new courthouse into a courthouse of the future and its key components, its courtrooms, into "courtrooms of the future."1

To create the courtrooms that will occupy the courthouse of the future, all judges and commissioners must be electronically linked with each other to improve and speed communication, collaboration, and uniform access to the technological resources necessary to facilitate the judicial process. Thus, all judicial officers may work more collegially, effectively, and efficiently in the new courthouse. Derivatively, they may enhance fairness and equal justice for all who appear before them.2

The Sacramento Municipal Court is actively fostering these important ends by planning BenchNET, a comprehensive and confidential computer network designed to provide each of its judges and commissioners with the most utilitarian and easy-to-use electronic tools available in the computer sciences, including a judge's workstation and a judicial navigator to traverse all available softwares

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