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Overburdened Courts and Underutilized Information Technology - A Modern Prescription for a Chronic Disorder

NCJ Number
Judicature Volume: 68 Issue: 1 Dated: (June/July 1984) Pages: 30-36
B Forst
Date Published
7 pages
Many courts throughout the country have successfully adopted computerized systems for legal research, case management, rapid retrieval of information, scheduling, defense and witness notification, and report generation, but court officials must continue to exploit new technologies to reduce delays and disparities in the system.
A classic misconception is that the court's administrative competency can be assessed by how cases are handled in the courtroom. Most cases filed in court, however, are settled outside the courtroom where inefficient scheduling, waiting rooms filled with impatient witnesses, and inaccurate information in subpoenas. Although the court's primary activity in its pursuit of justice is the processing of information, the judicial system has been reluctant to spend money on modern information processing technology. This resistance is giving way to pressures of increasing case backlogs, the proliferation of small computers in offices and homes, and improved information systems. A prominent example of advanced technology for managing court information is DOCKETRAC, a member of the PROMIS family of computer software. It provides a wide variety of information management functions, can be tailored to fit the particular needs of any court, and consists of approximately 85 programs. This system makes essential information about the court's business readily accessible to administrators, increases staff productivity, and allows managers to assess court workload and performance. Computerized systems also provide data that are useful to judges when they make decisions regarding pretrial release, continuing a case, admissibility of evidence, sentencing, and awards to plaintiffs. Sample products of DOCKETRAC and 10 footnotes are supplied.