Report and Recommendations

of the

Information Technology Task Force

Texas Commission on Judicial Efficiency

August 19, 1996

[Click here for general discussion of
the Task Force recommendations]

Contents

INTRODUCTION 2

RECOMMENDATION 1: State Judicial Committee on Information Technology 3

RECOMMENDATION 2: State Judicial Information Technology Infrastructure 4

RECOMMENDATION 3: State Judicial System Web Home Page 5

RECOMMENDATION 4: State Telecommunications Infrastructure 5

RECOMMENDATION 5: Justice Information Management Systems 6

RECOMMENDATION 6: Trial Court Room Technology - No Recommendation 7

RECOMMENDATION 7: Court Office Technology 7

RECOMMENDATION 8: Legal Research in the Judicial System 8

RECOMMENDATION 9: Court Voice Automation Systems 8

RECOMMENDATION 10: Funding - Automation Fee 8

RECOMMENDATION 11: Funding - Time Payment Fee 9

RECOMMENDATION 12: Funding - Fees for Information Access 9

SPECIAL NOTES 9

FINAL "VOTES' ON RECOMMENDATIONS 10

FINAL "VOTES' ON RECOMMENDATIONS - Up Date 11

Funding Recommendations For First Two Years 12

INTRODUCTION

The Information Technology Task Force had several primary objectives related to the implementation and utilization of new computer technology within the Texas judicial system, including:

1. To permit immediate access to appropriate court records, hearing scheduling, trial evidence and appellate review.

2. To make the Texas Judicial System more accessible to the public, lawyers and judges.

3. To encourage the development of an interconnected computerized state wide Texas Judicial System that allows for the electronic transfer of information and reports.

4. To embrace a new level of technology infrastructure for the Texas Judicial System that produces immediate benefits and sets the stage for the future application of emerging technologies.

The Task Force sees immediate and direct benefits through the use of the Internet and computer video conferencing as follows:

1. The advent of computer access to the Texas Judicial System through Internet will permit elected Judges and Clerks to devote more time and energy to the administration of justice, and less time to moving volumes of paper and answering telephone calls about scheduling.

2. Video conferencing with the computer technology will permit: criminal arraignments directly from jail to reduce the costs and dangers of moving prisoners; civil hearings will reduce the public's cost because lawyers and parties will not have travel expenses and time waiting to be heard; a cost-effective means for court/agency communication and an electronic forum for training programs via video conferencing.

The Task Force realizes that it cannot develop detailed recommendations for all items specified in its initial assignment. With the rapid changes taking place in technology and the complexity of the judicial system and its interaction with other agencies and the public, the details will take years to work through. It was concluded that the best way to proceed is to recommend a process which will allow continual progress to be made each year. Recommendation 1 specifies the appointment of a State Judicial Committee on Information Technology which will provide this process.

This Committee will then make recommendations concerning the development of a State Judicial Information Technology Infrastructure which is covered in Recommendation 2, with additional details given in other recommendations. The remaining recommendations deal with the establishment of user fees that will be needed to fund the development of the State Judicial Information Technology Infrastructure.

The State judicial system is comprised of 96 Appellate Judges, 387 District Judges, 254 Constitutional County Judges, 189 County Courts at Law Judges, 842 Justice of the Peace and 1215 Municipal Judges, 2983 total, plus court staff and other related offices and agencies.

RECOMMENDATIONS

In order to bring about the desired changes necessary for greater efficiency and effectiveness of the judicial system, the Information Technology Task Force has developed the following recommendations. Some of these recommendations will require action by the State Legislature and some will require only actions by and cooperation of various courts and agencies. All must be accomplished to bring about the greatest results.

RECOMMENDATION 1: State Judicial Committee on Information Technology

The Supreme Court should appoint an autonomous standing committee representing appropriate aspects of the judiciary and non-lawyer citizens, who can provide leadership in bringing information technology into the judicial system, with the following responsibilities:

a. Recommend minimum standards for e-mail, software (word processing, case management, etc.), information transfer, local area networks, Internet access, electronic data interchange (EDI), data dictionary and other technological needs of the judicial system.

b. Recommend standardized guidelines for moving to a user friendly electronic based document system, including the creation of documents, court filings and flow of information within the judicial system in electronic form.

c. Recommend minimum security guidelines for controlling access to and protecting the integrity and confidentiality of appropriate information.

d. Recommend minimum standards for paperless litigation.

e. Recommend guidelines for a State Judicial System Web Home Page.

f. Recommend minimum standards for a Court Intranet (a private and secure internal Court network that makes specific court information available only to the Court staff).

g. Recommend the necessary Court-related Statutes and Rules changes for the electronic filling of cases and supporting documents.

h. Recommend pilot programs to be funded in order to test and demonstrate the application of emerging technologies to the judicial system, such as video conferencing facilities, EDI application requirements, client/server information access applications and court room technologies.

i. Recommend priorities regarding funding for the various information technology needs of the judicial system.

The committee should reflect all aspects of the Judiciary, including: Supreme Court Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals Judge, Appellate Court Judge, District Court Judge, County Court at Law Judge, Municipal Court Judge, District Attorney, County Clerk, District Clerk, Justice of the Peace, Texas Association of Counties, Trial Lawyer, Court Reporter, State Representative, State Senator and Court Administrator. The Office of Court Administration (OCA) should be represented by a non-voting, ex-officio member of the committee. The committee may be composed of an executive committee, the committee and subcommittees as needed to deal with special issues.

Cost: Funding should be provided to cover the travel expenses of the committee membership to meetings. This is estimated to be $25,000 annually.

Discussion: The appointment of an advisory State Judicial Committee on Information Technology is essential to provide direction and coordination to the development of a State Judicial Information Technology Infrastructure. Texas is behind a number of other states in this development. The committee membership must reflect all aspects of the judiciary and have members who are knowledgeable of what information technology can offer to the judicial system. The membership should include membership from both large and small counties and municipalities. Without this body, which will provide vision, leadership and coordination, the State Judicial system will never develop the necessary coordinated and uniform technology infrastructure that is needed to best serve the needs of the State judicial system. The Committee can provide rapid advancement for those items not requiring legislative action and lay the ground work for other items that will require legislative action. It can recommend funding for pilot technology programs and review the resulting cost/benefit to determine future directions.

Discussion on Recommendation 1


RECOMMENDATION 2: State Judicial Information Technology Infrastructure

A State Judicial Information Technology Infrastructure should be created to support the operations of the judicial system. This JITI should be developed under the guidance of the Judicial Committee on Information Technology which will set appropriate guidelines, priorities and minimum standards, and recommend appropriate allocation of funds. This JITI should include:

a. Computers, printers, software and related items for the courts and support offices, within the State Judicial System. (See Rec. 7.)

b. A state wide judicial computer network connecting all state courts, county courts and municipal courts with a link to the Internet, funded by the State. This network will be coordinated by the OCA and operated by the Department of Information Resources (DIR). (See Rec. 4.)

c. Videoconferencing facilities should be developed, based on either computer and data network based systems or traditional videoconferencing systems, where cost saving, security and personnel time savings justify. These facilities should be available to Appellate, District, County, Municipal and Justice of Peace courts and local government agencies, as appropriate, for video testimony, arraignment and court/interagency communication. (See Rec. 4.)

d. A state wide e-mail facility to support the judicial system, available for all courts that do not have their own system, funded by the State, operated by the OCA and with the support of the DIR. (See Rec. 7.)

e. A State Wide Judicial Information ManagementSystem (JIMS), which serves as a depository for all information related to the judicial system, including court to court information, attorney to court information, court to state agency information and court to public information. A central JIMS should be funded by the State and operated by the OCA with the support of the DIR. The central facility will be the depository of information from all courts that do not have their own JIMS facilities and will have links to those that do have their own facilities. (See Rec. 3 and 5.)

f. A Help Desk facility to assist those who have need of accessing information from the judicial system, and a training and support function to provide needed assistance to the judicial and government offices using the judicial system, funded by the State and operated by the OCA.

g. Support methods will need to be developed to assist with the development and operation of local court and region LAN's (local area networks), computers systems and software.

h. Voice response systems for accessing information in judicial information management systems and office voice mail systems. (See Rec. 9.)

Cost: The cost of each of these items, except for 2f and 2g, will be included in the recommendations that follow. Item 2f will be partly provided by the OCA and will be covered by the funds they receive from the Automation Fee. (The fees recommended will be addressed in Recommendations 10, 11 and 12.) The Help Desk function operated by the OCA is estimated to cost $350,000 annually. Some training expenses for item f, will be the responsibility of the local courts and will be funded from their revenues from the fees collected. The support called for in item 2g will be funded from the fees each court receives.

Discussion: A JITI will allow the judicial system to rapidly move from a paper based system to an electronic document based system. Each District Court, Appellate Court, Court of Criminal Appeals and the Supreme Court should have computer facilities (computers, printers, software, network connection, e-mail, etc.) and training to support each member of the court staff, funded by the State. Network facilities will be required to connect these to state and local agencies. This infrastructure will allow the transition to a technology based judicial system to take place and will require several years to complete. Considerable coordination between the courts, state and local agencies will be required. There will be on going equipment replacement needs and annual support costs.

Discussion on Recommendation 2


RECOMMENDATION 3: State Judicial System Web Home Page

The Office of Court Administration should set up a Web Home Page for the State Judicial System. This system will form a central Judicial Information Management System. This Web site should contain appropriate State judicial information and links to information from the various courts of the State. It should be a "directory" for accessing all Internet accessible information related to the State Judicial System. This system should be expanded as time and funds allow to service other information needs and services of the judicial system.

Cost: The expansion and support of the State Judicial System Home Page by the OCA will require funding. This funding in the future should come from both the User Fees for Information Access that will be collected by the OCA for "selling" some on-line information from this Home Page system, and the Automation User Fees that will be paid during the case filing process. (These fees are recommended later in this report.) In order to get this system up an running in a timely way, initial start up funding should be provided for the first two years. The estimated annual cost is $125,000 to support this operation.

Discussion: The creation of a central Judicial Information Management System, included in Recommendation 2e, can be started now through the creation of the Web Home Page, and will allow the State to move forward in the transition to a technology based operation. Various courts now have Web Home Pages. The initial Web system should support the Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals and Appellate Courts, provide opinions appropriate for public access, court orders, and oral argument schedules. The technology is now available to initiate these functions. It should then expand to include support for District Courts. The State Judicial System Home Page should provide an entry point for all information needs and services of the Judicial System.

Discussion on Recommendation 3


RECOMMENDATION 4: State Telecommunications Infrastructure

The Legislature should provide funding for the creation and operation of a State Telecommunications Infrastructure, which is composed of a State-wide Computer Network with a connection to the Internet, and a Videoconferencing Network, that will support educational institutions, hospitals, libraries, the State judicial system and other government agencies. This Network should be operated by the State Department of Information Resources (DIR) and have one or more connecting hubs in each county. The state wide computer network backbone to each county should be totally funded by the State with a connecting institution and agency only charged the annual cost of connecting from their location to the hub located in the county. The videoconferencing network should be operated on a usage fee basis. If the Legislature does not provide a State Telecommunications Infrastructure that the Judicial System can utilize, then the Judicial System will need to establish its own network through the DIR.

Cost: The State should fund a state computer network to support a number of agencies and institutions, including the judicial system, for approximately $8,000,000 over a two year period with an annual operational cost of $2,700,000. Since parts of this computer network now exist, detailed studies will be needed to determine the actual cost, which should be less than this estimate. If the State does not provide a state network, the estimated cost for a judicial computer network infrastructure will be $7,000,000 over a four year period, with an annual operational cost of $1,000,000, when it is completed. $2,000,000 will be needed annually to build this system over a four year period. This amount will come from a portion of the Automation Fee of Recommendation 10. The video component of the system is considerably more expensive and should be provided by local funds from the user fees, as they are justified. The OCA link of the video network will cost an estimated $225,000 annually.

Discussion: This recommendation will provide the state wide judicial computer network and videoconferencing network included in Recommendation 2b and 2c. This network should be a part of a State network that reached every county, however, if the State does not elect to develop a State network, then the Judicial System will need to develop its own. Many State agencies now have various types of computer networks operating state wide and the last Legislature (HB2128) created funding to support the development of computer and videoconferencing systems for education, libraries and hospitals. It is important that there be cooperation between current agencies operating and planning networks in order for the State to receive the greatest return in the investment. (Current studies are being conducted by the DPS, Criminal Justice and local police departments related to the DPS state network, and state networks are now operated by several agencies such as the Department of Transportation.) By combining these current and planned networks as technology allows, considerable savings should be realized by the State. It should be much less expensive to operate one or a few computer networks, compared to the (up to) twenty-eight networks reportedly now operated by various state agencies. The DIR now operates a computer and videoconferencing network that can be used as the foundation on which to build this state wide telecommunications infrastructure.

Discussion on Recommendation 4


RECOMMENDATION 5: Justice Information Management Systems

Every county or region with sufficient court caseloads to justify, should have a local Justice Information Management System (JIMS) that fully integrates all local agencies and parties that routinely interact with criminal, civil and family courts. This JIMS should include the ability to generate and transmit electronically, reports required by local and state agencies. Those counties or regions that do not have sufficient caseloads to justify their own JIMS should, through consolidation with other counties or through contracting with an outside provider, establish a JIMS. State funding should be available to assist those counties that do not have the funding base to operate their own JIMSs. Plans for JIMS should be submitted to the State Judicial Committee on Information Technology for review and coordination .

Cost: The operation of the JIMSs will be funded from the fees that are included in Recommendations 10, 11 and 12. The OCA will need to develop a JIMS that can support information from the State Courts and provide support for those local areas that cannot provide their own. The OCA system is estimated to cost $600,000 annually.

Discussion: A complete State Wide Judicial Information Management System, as specified in Recommendation 2e, will not exist until all local and state, courts and agencies are connected together through Internet accessible systems. Many counties do not have the caseload, funding or staff to create and operate their own local JIMS. The State should assist these in becoming a part of the state system. The OCA is the best agency for creating an office that will coordinate the flow of information between state and local agencies and the judicial system and for supporting those counties that do not have the means to provide their own JIMS. This JIMS should be modeled after the Harris County system including the creation of a local advisory board. The National Center for State Courts can be of assistance in the study and development phase of creating these JIMSs.

Discussion on Recommendation 5


RECOMMENDATION 6: Trial Court Room Technology - No Recommendation

The Task Force has not come to a resolution regarding the Trial Court Room Technology issue. There are diverse opinions on this issue among the members. A committee studied the options for a number of months and did not reach an agreement. The introduction of other technologies within the judicial system, such as e-mail, Internet access, Web information based systems and video conferencing, will greatly influence the future direction to be taken in the use of technology in the court room. For these reasons no recommendation will be made. It will be a topic for the State Judicial Committee on Information Technology to deal with at an appropriate time.

Discussion: In the future the State Judicial Committee on Information Technology should establish guidelines for transcripts of statement of facts of trials and hearings to be in electronic formats; and also establish guidelines, where appropriate, for the use of automated instantaneous computer viewable transcripts of trials and hearings. The use of automated transcripts will add the trial and hearing records into the computer automated process to permit trial and appellate judges to rule more quickly. Other court room technologies should also be considered. One reason for appellate delays is the time required to produce transcripts of trials and hearings.

Discussion on Recommendation 6


RECOMMENDATION 7: Court Office Technology

Courts at all levels and appropriate court related offices should have the necessary computers, printers, local area network, software, e-mail and Internet access in order to be full members of the State Judicial System. The trial judge and court related personnel should have computer access to the clerk's database on any particular case, i.e., the "electronic docket sheet." All judges should have access to appropriate information on various court (secure) Intranet and Internet information systems.

Cost: The cost of providing computers, printers and networks for the Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, 14 Appellate Courts and 386 District Courts is estimated to be $9,500,000 with an annual support cost of approximately $1,000,000. It is estimated to take up to six years to provide these facilities from the fees proposed, at $2,000,000 annually. There are approximately 2200 other courts in the State.

Discussion: This recommendation relates to items in Recommendations 2a and 2d. This will enable the court to quickly determine the nature and status of pleadings, hearing or trial dates and other pertinent information. Progressing to electronic filing, i.e., the "paperless file", the court on its own computer will have ready access to review all pleadings and related documents filed in a specific case. With e-mail capability, the court's ability to communicate with counsel is greatly enhanced to allow timely dissemination of rulings, proposed orders and other matters. Inter-court communication is also facilitated using e-mail. A clerk's office should be computerized to the point that all information about a case is inputted in the clerk's database. The more difficult task is moving to the "paperless file" which will require electronic filing either on voluntary or mandated "by rule" basis. The question of whether it will entail imaging or text will need to be addressed as well as exploring if there is a market for reselling this information as a funding source.

Discussion on Recommendation 7

RECOMMENDATION 8: Legal Research in the Judicial System

On-Line research systems and CD-ROM libraries, including the SouthWestern Reporter, Statutes and Codes and the Texas Digest, should be included in a judge's "library". Access to a "judge's benchbook" should also be part of this basic library. Other computer research services should be made available. These resources should be available to all courts within the State. Training on the usage of these electronically available resources should be provided. Some pricing breaks can be obtained by having one State purchasing agent.

Cost: The cost of providing these services should be covered by the fees from Recommendation 10, 11 and 12. It is estimated that this will cost $250 initially and $100 annually for each court.

Discussion on Recommendation 8


RECOMMENDATION 9: Court Voice Automation Systems

Courts should be provided integrated voice response systems for playing back messages and for accessing information in judicial information management systems with options selected with the telephone keypad. In addition the court staff should have a voice mail system including voice menus and voice mail boxes.

Cost: A voice mail system that will support a court operation of 6 to 9 individuals will cost approximately $2,500. These would be provided as funds become available from one of the local fees from Recommendations 10 and 11. A voice response system should be developed as a part of the JIMS and funded from the fees from Recommendation 10, 11 and 12.

Discussion: This recommendation, related to Recommendation 2h, addresses the problem of an inordinate amount of time dedicated by court personnel responding to phone inquires. Technology will not eliminate the problem, however, it can reduce the time expended on the phone and promote more efficient use of time.

Discussion on Recommendation 9


RECOMMENDATION 10: Funding - Automation Fee

A Judicial Automation User Fee of $10 should be approved by the Legislature which will apply to each (non traffic) court filing. This User Fee will apply to Justice of the Peace, Municipal, County, District and Appellate Courts. The fees will go to a state fund dedicated for judicial information and technology. Each local/state court and judicial agency can apply to the "board" set up to administer these funds for funding of legitimate court related information technology needs. The Legislature should not cut other court appropriations because of, or in relation to, the amount of funds generated by this or other technology user fees.

Discussion: It is estimated that there are one million non-traffic filings annually, which will produce more than $10,000,000. The "board" that administers these funds could distribute 40% back to the local court based on number of filings, 20% for the development and support of the State Judicial Telecommunications Infrastructure, 15% to the OCA for central support of judicial information technology and 20% for the State Courts (Supreme, Criminal Appeals, Appellate and District) and 5% for special needs such as other courts that do not have funds to support their own information technology needs for computers, networks, etc. The funds going back to the "local court" should provide for appropriate judicial related technology needs including, in some cases, the County or District Clerks offices. The actual percentage distributions would be recommended by the "board." This "board" should be the State Judicial Committee on Information Technology.

Discussion on Recommendation 10


RECOMMENDATION 11: Funding - Time Payment Fee

A Time Payment User Fee should be approved by the Legislature that will be charged to all who do not pay their fines and court costs on the day they are imposed by the court and who request to pay these on a time-payment basis. This will be a locally collected fee for use in supporting local judicial information technology related needs such as computers, networks, etc.

Discussion: This legislation would extend a funding option to all jurisdictions that has been approved in the past for Harris County. This has been a very successful program for Harris County. There will be some details to be worked out in regard to this fee for it to not violate current statues. (At this time we do not have an estimate for the funds that will come from this fee.)

Discussion on Recommendation 11


RECOMMENDATION 12: Funding - Fees for Information Access

A user fee can now be charged for obtaining printed copies of judicial related information. This user fee should be applied reasonably to appropriate judicial related materials obtained electronically from judicial information systems, such as over the Internet from Web servers. The OCA and other JIMS regions should charge appropriate and allowed user fees for some materials that are provided electronically. These fees should be retained for support of the offices and agencies providing the information and operating the systems.

Discussion: The amount of the fee will be determined by the cost of providing information from the system and the funds collected will be used to cover in-part or in-total the cost of providing this information. These systems could follow the example of the PACER Federal Court information system. In some cases these fees may be used to support the operation of a County or District Clerk's offices which directly relate to the judicial information system. Additional study will need to be made regarding this recommendation. There may be some limitations on how charges can be made for electronic copies of judicial information due to recent rulings. (At this time we do not have an estimate for the funds that will come from this fee.)

Discussion on Recommendation 12


Special Notes:

1. Any funding legislation or requirement should include consideration for fee wavier for individuals unable to pay.

2. In recommending technological changes or additions to any aspect of the Texas Judicial system, the SJCIT should not usurp or interfere with duly authorized powers or responsibilities of other agencies or branches of state or federal government. In this respect, the SJCIT should be mindful of potentially conflicting jurisdictions, statutes and administrative rules of other state and federal agencies or branches of government.

3. The Legislature should not cut other court appropriations because of, or in relation to, the amount of funds generated by these judicial technology user fees.

4. Information available electronically should conform to the Open Records Act.

Discussion on "Special Notes"

Information Technology Task Force

Final "Votes" on Recommendations

August 16, 1996

The following FAX votes indicate the support of the recommendations of the Task Force Members. Since we were not able to have additional meetings, Recommendation 6 on Trial Court Room Technology was not adequately considered, thus the "No Recommendation," and the diversity of the support on the issue. For this "vote" the members had only two days in which to review the final document and reply.

Strongly Moderately Moderately Strongly Support Support Neutral Oppose Oppose

RECOMMENDATION 1: 22 5

State Judicial Committee on Information Technology

RECOMMENDATION 2: 24 3

State Judicial Information Technology Infrastructure

RECOMMENDATION 3: 23 2 2

State Judicial System Web Home Page

RECOMMENDATION 4: 20 2 5

State Telecommunications Infrastructure

RECOMMENDATION 5: 21 5 1

Justice Information Management Systems

RECOMMENDATION 6: 5 2 7 2 4

Trial Court Room Technology - No Recommendation

RECOMMENDATION 7: 22 3 1 1

Court Office Technology

RECOMMENDATION 8: 22 1 3 1

Legal Research in the Judicial System

RECOMMENDATION 9: 15 9 3

Court Voice Automation Systems

RECOMMENDATION 10: 20 3 2 2

Funding - Automation Fee

RECOMMENDATION 11: 20 4 1 2

Funding - Time Payment Fee

RECOMMENDATION 12: 19 4 1 2 1

Funding - Fees for Information Access

Information Technology Task Force

Final "Votes" on Recommendations

August 19, 1996

The following FAX votes indicate the support of the recommendations of the Task Force Members. Since we were not able to have additional meetings, Recommendation 6 on Trial Court Room Technology was not adequately considered, thus the "No Recommendation," and the diversity of the support on the issue. For this "vote" the members had only two days in which to review the final document and reply.

Strongly Moderately Moderately Strongly Support Support Neutral Oppose Oppose

RECOMMENDATION 1: 24 5

State Judicial Committee on Information Technology

RECOMMENDATION 2: 25 4

State Judicial Information Technology Infrastructure

RECOMMENDATION 3: 24 3 2

State Judicial System Web Home Page

RECOMMENDATION 4: 21 3 5

State Telecommunications Infrastructure

RECOMMENDATION 5: 21 5 1

Justice Information Management Systems

RECOMMENDATION 6: 5 2 7 2 5

Trial Court Room Technology - No Recommendation

RECOMMENDATION 7: 24 3 1 1

Court Office Technology

RECOMMENDATION 8: 23 2 3 1

Legal Research in the Judicial System

RECOMMENDATION 9: 17 9 3

Court Voice Automation Systems

RECOMMENDATION 10: 21 4 2 2

Funding - Automation Fee

RECOMMENDATION 11: 21 5 1 2

Funding - Time Payment Fee

RECOMMENDATION 12: 19 5 1 3 1

Funding - Fees for Information Access

Funding Recommendations

For First Two Years

Information Technology Task Force

Texas Commission on Judicial Efficiency

August 20, 1996

In order to jump start the Texas Judicial System into the new age of the Internet, World Wide Web, e-mail and other technologies where we are behind a number of other states, it is recommended that initial funding be approved for the first two years for priority recommendations. This will allow the Judicial System to move ahead and not have to wait until approved fees are collected, and enough funding is realized to support the initial move to a technology based Judicial System.

RECOMMENDATION 1: State Judicial Committee on Information Technology

Funding: It is recommending that funding be provided to cover the travel expenses of the Committee membership to meetings. This is estimated to be $25,000 annually. This is a first priority recommendation.

RECOMMENDATION 2: State Judicial Information Technology Infrastructure

Funding: The Help Desk function operated by the OCA is estimated to cost $350,000 annually. This is a first priority in that this operation must be in place in order to provide the support items included in other recommendations. On a first priority one-half of these funds should be approved for each of the first two years and on a second priority the remaining one-half should be approved. After the first two years, it is expected that the recommended fees, if approved, will cover this development and operation. Other funding for this Infrastructure will be included in the following recommendations.

RECOMMENDATION 3: State Judicial System Web Home Page

Funding: The development of the State Judicial System Home Page by the OCA will require funding. In order to jump start this system in a timely way, initial funding of $125,000 for each of the first two years should be approved. This is a first priority recommendation. After the first two years, it is expected that the recommended fees, if approved, will cover this development and operation.

RECOMMENDATION 4: State Telecommunications Infrastructure

(a) The estimated cost for a judicial computer network infrastructure will be $7,000,000 over a four year period, with an annual operational cost of $1,000,000 when it is completed. $2,000,000 will be needed annually to build this system over a four year period. As a first priority, one-half of this $2,000,000 annual funding should be approved each of the first two years and as a second priority the remaining one-half should be approved. After the first two years, it is expected that the recommended fees, if approved, will cover this development and operation.

(b) The OCA link of the video network will cost an estimated $225,000 annually. This is a second priority advanced funding recommendation.

RECOMMENDATION 5: Justice Information Management Systems

Funding: The OCA will need to develop a JIMS that can support information from the State Courts and provide support for those local areas that cannot provide their own. The OCA system is estimated to cost $600,000 annually. In order to jump start this development it recommended that advanced funding of $600,000 for each of the first two years be approved. One-half of these funds are a first priority for each of the first two years and one-half are a second priority. After the first two years, it is expected that the recommended fees, if approved, will cover this development and operation.

RECOMMENDATION 7: Court Office Technology

Funding: The cost of providing computers, printers and local networks for the Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, 14 Appellate Courts and 386 District Courts is estimated to be $9,500,000 with an annual support cost of approximately $1,000,000. It is estimated to take up to six years to provide these facilities from the fees proposed, at $2,000,000 annually. In order to jump start these State Courts into a technology based operation it is recommended that $2,000,000 be approved for each of the first two years. One-half of these funds should be regarded as a first priority and one-half as a second priority for funding for each of the first two years. After the first two years, it is expected that the recommended fees, if approved, will cover this development and operation.

Other recommendations are of a lower priority and can wait until the funding from the recommended fees will support their development and operation.

Summary Judicial Jump-Start Funding

Recommendations for Each of First Two Years:

Recommendation Priority One Priority Two Priority One & Two

1. Committee $25,000 $25,000

2. Infrastructure 175,000 $175,000 $350,000 - OCA

3. Judicial Web 125,000 125,000 Home Page

4. (a) Telecom 1,000,000 1,000,000 2,000,000 Infrastructure

(b) OCA video 225,000 225,000 conferencing

5. JIMS - OCA 300,000 300,000 600,000

7. Court Office 1,000,000 1,000,000 2,000,000 Technology

Totals 2,625,000 2,700,000 5,325,000


This report was provided to the The Appellate Advocate (Electronic Edition) by Anthony Haley, General Counsel for the Texas Commission on Judicial Efficiency.

Page created on Saturday, October 5, 1996.
Last updated November 20, 1996.
Send comments to Richard R. Orsinger.