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Benchmarks: Journal of the New York State Unified Court System

Summer 2006

TECHNOLOGY

New Search Engine For Court System

WOULDN’T IT BE GREAT IF YOU COULD SEARCH the Unified Court System’s public Web site as easily and efficiently as you could Google? Well, now you can.

As of April 21, the New York State Unified Court System began using Google as its official search appliance for www.nycourts.gov. The Google Search Appliance represents state-of-the-art technology and is an integrated hardware and software product designed to give businesses and the government the power and efficiency of a Google search.

The appliance makes the sea of data published on our servers instantly available (except court decisions and appearance dates) from a single familiar search box. Employees and the public can now search over 100,000 documents using the most advanced search features available, such as foreign language queries (the appliance supports over 100 languages) and search results sorted by date.

Court decisions and court dates are provided through links on the e-courts Web page at https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us.


E-Scheduling for Court Interpreters

SCHEDULING COURT INTERPRETER services across the state just got easier.

Sandra Bryan, Coordinator of Court Interpreting Services, says a new computer system that allows court personnel to electronically schedule court interpreters across the state will be fully operational this summer.

A pilot program has been operational this past year in the 7th Judicial District, New York City Civil Court and Queens Supreme Court.

Court personnel who schedule interpreters will have access to the program via a password. Once the system is accessed, administrators will make selections from several pull-down screens or areas where information is entered, including the court, county, court part, primary language, index/docket number, case type, appearance date, start time and end time. Once information is submitted, a list of available interpreters is displayed, prioritized to first provide names of court-employed interpreters, then per diem interpreters and lastly translation businesses and agencies.

The system also lets officials know if a court interpreter has been tardy or missed scheduled sessions altogether. The program shows how many times an interpreter has been scheduled in a given court, in case an administrator wants to spread the workload. Since the system is in “real time,” it allows more than one employee to schedule for a particular court and alerts officials if an interpreter for a particular language has already been scheduled for their court on a given date. A decision can then be made as to whether to schedule more than one interpreter.

The program also provides useful information to court officials on a daily basis about interpreting services in other courts. It displays the names and languages of interpreters actively engaged in neighboring courts on a particular day, which is helpful for last minute needs and requests.


Fiber Ring Technology: The Backbone of Court Communications

TEN YEARS AGO, ONLY 13 OF THE 62 COUNTIES in the Unified Court System (UCS) could access centralized case information on the mainframe. There was no technological infrastructure to support any statewide initiatives, such as an e-mail system. Most employees didn’t even have computer terminals.

Today, CourtNet, a state-of-the-art network, connects over 250 court buildings statewide. “The goal of CourtNet is to connect everyone in the court system statewide into a high-speed reliable network for court operations,” said Sheng Guo, Chief Technology Officer of the UCS Division of Technology.

The CourtNet backbone is comprised of 545 miles of dedicated fiber connecting courthouses in New York City and seven counties (Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady and Saratoga), in addition to leased high-speed connections in five major cities (Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Binghamton and Poughkeepsie). The backbone was engineered to achieve maximum redundancy and availability. For example, if a fiber cut occurs in the optical ring, traffic will be automatically rerouted over the reverse direction.

The optical backbone provides the UCS with unprecedented network reliability and performance. In the past, a T1 line (a fiber optic or copper line) at 1.5 million bits per second was considered a high-speed connection. In contrast, a typical fiber connection today can transmit a billion bits per second. That means a two-hour movie could be transmitted in 1.2 minutes using the new optical network, compared with 13 hours to transmit the same information using a T1 line. The end result is the court system has the ability to provide case-management applications and phone, e-mail and video services to court users statewide, using a fast, reliable connection.

CourtNet enables the deployment of many innovative court solutions, including UCMS (Universal Case Management System, a single, standardized statewide computer application for all courts); videoconferencing; VoIP (Voice-Over Internet Protocol, merging computer and phone technologies to give courts a more adaptable phone system); distance learning; video streaming (playing video upon arrival without downloading); security surveillance; and Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) Internet access for the public.

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On-Line Access to Court Records Tested  2006 Law Day  Court of Appeals Decides Same-Sex Marriage & Depraved Indifference Cases  A Year As COSCA’s President  For the Record  Court Clerks:Unsung Heroes of the Courthouse  New Uncontested Divorce Packets  The Courts Closest to the People:The Town & Village Courts  City, Town & Village Resource Center  Justice Courts Action Plan  Improvements in Interpreting Services  UCS Technology Update  Report Calls for Overhaul of the Indigent Defense System  Judicial Association Spotlight  Historic New York State Courthouses and Trials  Did You Know?  Judicial Institute Highlights  JI Hosts Voter Education Symposium

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Web page updated: September 20, 2006 - www.NYCOURTS.gov