This court-developed project is the first system in California to automate the distribution and disposition of cases in an appellate court.
In 2009, the Fifth Appellate District of the Court of Appeal designed and developed the Electronic Writ Processing Program, also known as the Writ Project. This program eliminates the piles of paper normally generated by each case; instead, the court’s original proceedings, called writs, are processed electronically.
The Writ Project has created a collaborative environment for justices and staff of the court. Justices can now review online any documents relating to any case and then discuss the case with their colleagues online—and they can do this from their offices, from home, or while traveling. They can even cast votes electronically from any location. Research attorneys can also view petitions online and send out their research memos electronically.
Before the Writ Project, court clerks needed to make multiple copies of all petitions. The new process, which involves scanning each petition and creating electronic documents, is 25 percent faster. The project includes all writs, civil and criminal.
The Writ Project was designed and developed in-house by the Fifth Appellate District of the Court of Appeal. The development team consisted of the presiding judge, the court administrator, the assistant court administrator, and the court’s information technology staff. The cost of the project, including hardware, software, training, and consulting services, came to $39,000; funding came entirely from Court of Appeal general funds.
The Fifth Appellate District is willing to share its business plan and breakdown of expenses. The court’s initial costs were low because the project was developed in-house; outside development would be more expensive. The platform is Microsoft SharePoint software.
The justices and staff at the Fifth Appellate District of the Court of Appeal are also ready to share their enthusiasm for the Writ Project. They will tell you that working collaboratively online is not only more efficient, it’s also more pleasant. The program has increased efficiencies at all levels, and this efficiency is reflected in shorter processing times for each case. This, in turn, enables the court to handle significantly more dispositions per month.
In May 2011, the court began offering an option to submit writ petitions electronically for civil and criminal writ proceedings. Documents submitted in this way do not need to be scanned, further improving the efficiency of the process. This step continues the court’s progress toward its ultimate goal, which is to be on a totally electronic footing.
The program allows Court of Appeal justices, research attorneys, and clerks to work collaboratively on the court’s original proceedings. The program eliminates the need for paper files. Justices and writ staff have the ability to receive and review documents, perform research, track case status, communicate with each other, and electronically cast their votes on each case from any location.
Benefits to the Public
|Benefits to the Court:|
- Enables appeal cases to be heard more quickly
- Provides the ability to file writ petitions online
- Reduces caseload processing times
- Increases the number of dispositions handled per month
- Saves judicial and staff time without compromising the integrity of the process
Ms. Julie Bagoye, Assistant Clerk/Administrator