What do Thanksgiving and the Courts have in Common?

If you answered George Washington, you are correct.  President Washington signed the Judiciary Act of 1789 establishing the federal court system, and only days later proclaimed November 26, 1789 as a “day of public thanksgiving and prayer.”  The actual holiday we celebrate today was proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War in 1863. A lot has changed since the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians first Thanksgiving more than 400 years ago.  There was no turkey, potatoes, or pumpkin pie on the original menu, no NFL football or holiday shopping.

While the general court structure has remained relatively unchanged the way information is received and disseminated has changed significantly.  Technology is helping criminal justice agencies communicate more efficiently, make better decisions and track case outcomes.  In several weeks some of the latest innovations in court technology will be on display at e-Courts in Las Vegas.

The very first session is titled, “Embracing the Accelerating Pace of Technology Change” followed by the awarding of prize winners from the Court Hack held earlier this year. A look at the entire e-Courts agenda includes words like technology, innovation, electronic, change, and disruption throughout and signifies the need, and desire, courts have to move a new technological age.

In the United States the information infrastructure of the criminal justice system is critical because we believe in transparency and the right to know.  Access to court information is deemed to be in the public’s best interest while in Europe and most other countries the information in considered personal and private in nature. In America court records have always been open to the public but in the past you had to go to the courthouse to receive information, while now it can often be found online. At the very least docket information is available and in some cases redacted version of documents are also accessible.

I’d encourage you to listen to a podcast from 2015 with New York University Law School Professor James Jacobs from the Center for Court Innovation about How Electronic Records at Transforming the Justice System.  Professor Jacobs is also author of “The Eternal Criminal Record.”

Professor Jacobs doesn’t like the thought of changing the public records (or in essence changing history).  He believes in providing more information instead of less when it comes to court records.

To learn more about how Extract Systems can help you make your courts records available to the public faster while protecting personally identifying information please contact me or stop by our booth #1418 at e-Courts on December 12 & 13 at the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino.

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About the Author: Troy Burke

With 30 years of experience providing clients with stellar service and strategic solutions for growth and development, Troy is committed to ensuring his customers receive the highest quality solution, training and support with every implementation. He frequently speaks on the topic of redaction and is actively involved with National Association of Court Management, Property Records Industry Association and several other government organizations.