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Future Trends in State Courts 2004

The National Center for State Courts has a collection of articles in its report, Future Trends in State Courts 2004.

Edison Ellenberger of The E-LawLibrary Weblog offers a nice summary of the highlights:


+Web Logs: Increasing Courts' Ability to Quickly Communicate with Constituents, by Walter Latham. The author discusses some court blogs and concludes that "Blogs are one of the tools that courts can use to become more accessible...If your court is contemplating how to increase accessibility to, and interaction with, court users and the broader public, then you should consider the benefits of setting up a blog."

+Time for Electronic Court Records, by Roger Winters. The concept of making the "official record" electronic was central to the conversion process at the court where the author is employed. When "the court record is electronic, most of the problems caused by having paper 'official' records are ameliorated or eliminated."

+Reaching Out to Self-Represented Litigants Through Virtual Reference and Education, by Gail Warren. The author begins by noting a finding from Beyond the Boundaries: The Report of the Special Committee on the Future of Law Librarians in the Digital Age: The number of attorneys using court and county law library services is decreasing while the number of patrons from the general public is increasing. Though much more material is online, patrons still need assistance in understanding and evaluating what is available. The article mentions some efforts in live online chat reference service and legal research instruction. Ms. Warren concludes that court law libraries' use of virtual reference sessions and other educational initiatives are trends "that will continue to grow."