Paper vs Digital Administration of the Courts
The Transition of the US courts to digital administration was executed over a comparatively short time,through a large-scale project, managed by the Administrative Office of the US Courts, an arm of theUS judicial branch. Dual systems were established: PACER – for public access to court records, andCM/ECF – for case management/electronic court filing. The systems are effectively a series of relational databases.
With it – a sea change was affected in court procedures. In contrast, proceduresfor paper administration of the English speaking courts evolved over centuries, and formed thefoundation of due process and fair hearings rights. Disambiguation of court procedures and courtrecords was the cornerstone for such rights. Therefore, the current report employed data mining toexamine the newly established digital administration of the US courts for the following fundamentalsof due process: a) valid,published rules of court, b) public access to judicial records – to inspect and tocopy, and c) verification
and authentication of judicial records, including notice and service of judicial papers. Finally – validity of the systems as a whole as assessed.
Valid Published Rules of Court
Procedures of the US courts under paper administration evolved from the English legal system, andwere established in
US Code of Civil/ Criminal Procedures
Local Rules of Court,
which the courts were authorized to adopt,
subject to prior publication of such rules for publiccomment and challenge. The transition to digital administration of the US courts inevitably entailed asea change in court procedures, which had to be established by law or by the publication of new localrules of courts. The current report documents the failure of the US courts to publish their new rulespertaining to the new digital procedures.
Public Access to Judicial Records – to Inspect and to Copy
The right for public accessto judicial records – to inspect and to copy – was well established in bothUS and in common law.
Judicial paper records, which were maintained by the Clerk of the Court includedindividual
Books of Courts,
including, but not limited to the
- logs of all valid proceedings and all valid records pertaining to
the respective court files by the clerk
. The transitionto digital administration of the courts entailed substantial changes, not by necessity, of the well-established set of judicial records. Moreover, through differential individual authorities, it became much easier to conceal digital judicial records. The current report documents universal denial of public access to critical judicial records,which are the authentication counterparts of individual court records in all courts that were examined.
Books of Court
- Criminal Dockets; City of Santa Monica, California
Verification and Authentication of Judicial Records
Verification by a judge and authentication by a clerk of court orders and judgments were a prerequisite
refers to a signature - “wet”, or digital - by an authorized person – a symbolaffixed with the intent of taking responsibility in the common law sense;
refers to logic verification in the computer science sense.