VirtualCourthouseĀ  Issue 1.1
Cyberspace and Lawyers

First Published in the Prince George’s County, Maryland Bar Association Journal – Newsletter

Judge Arthur M. Monty Ahalt – March 1996

Cyberspace, virtual community, infocosm, information superhighway, Internet, WAN, LAN, modem, memory, windows — What does it all mean to the lawyer.

Alvin & Heidi Toffler in their book Creating a New Civilization put it this way:

Humanity faces a quantum leap forward. It faces the deepest social upheaval and creative restructuring of all time. Without clearly recognizing it, we are engaged in building a remarkable new civilization from the ground up. This is the meaning of the Third Wave….

According to the Tofflers, the Third Wave is bringing our world including the legal profession into a new way of life.

The Third Waves brings with it a genuinely new way of life based on diversified, renewable energy sources; on methods of production that make most factory assembly lines obsolete. . . . The emergent civilization writes a new code of behavior for us and carries us beyond standardization, synchronization and centralization, beyond the concentration of energy, money and power.

And so, the infocosm is evolving. INFOCOSM, a word coined by Andersen Consulting, is defined as “a virtual world unconstrained by time, place or form; a world where computing, communicating and content converge. The infocosm is not going to be here in the future, it is here today. It is not waiting for the laying of fiberoptic cable. It is enabling a citizen-centered environment for all work — public and private. It is enabling the public and private to converge. Recent studies have shown that up to 70% of the Court’s and lawyers’ business can be virtualized.

Can the Courts and legal community be virtualized? It not only can but it is happening today. The Circuit Court for Prince George’s County accepted its first electronic filing in a motor tort case on November 16, 1995 at 3:43 p.m. George Meng, Esquire was the filing lawyer. The filing was done through JUSTICELINK, a public/private partnership between the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, Maryland and Andersen Consulting, LLP.

JUSTICELINK is an innovative electronic information access and filing service, revolutionizing communications and information management among attorneys and courts in Maryland and Washington, D.C. With JUSTICELINK, attorneys can obtain court information, access court legal records, conduct legal research, interact with the court and the clerk’s office, file documents, communicate electronically with other subscribers, 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week.

JUSTICELINK offers the easy-to-use benefits of LotusNotes to build an electronic bridge between subscribers and the courts. LotusNotes is the world’s leading provider of electronic communications, combines a powerful document management database and a sophisticated messaging system created on a foundation of security and reliability. With JUSTICELINK, subscribers can easily transfer documents to the courts or other subscribers, saving considerable amounts of time and money. JUSTICELINK also supports scanning exhibits for electronic submission to the court.

But JUSTICELINK is not the only electronic access to the Courts. CivicLINK, a public/private partnership between the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County and Ameritech, makes docket information, case scheduling information and tax assessor information available 24 hours a day. For information about either service contact:

JUSTICELINK:

* Electronic filing of pleadings 24 hours per day

* Electronic collecting of filing fees through ATM access

* Electronic service of pleadings on opposing counsel

* Creation of an electronic file to be used instead of paper file

* Templates for frequently used Court Documents

* Imaging of Court documents

* Instant access to electronic Court files

* Easily managed databases of useful information

* Faster dissemination of information among Court personnel such as Courtroom Clerks, Clerk’s Office and Assignment Office

* Court Calendars

COST:

$175 initial fee; $15 per filing; $.50 per minute

CONTACT:

Mr. Robert I. Macfarlane

202-862-8710

CivicLink:

* Tax and assessment records

* Daily Court calendering

* Future scheduled Court dates

* Courtroom Schedule

* Assigned Judge

* Information regarding civil jury verdicts (future)

* Docket Information

COST:

$5 or less per transaction; $100 user account

CONTACT:

Claudia Stevens Maddox

Ameritech Information Access

1-800-307-1100

Can the Courts and legal community be virtualized? It not only can but it is happening today. The Circuit Court for Prince George’s County accepted its first electronic filing in a motor tort case on November 16, 1995 at 3:43 p.m. George Meng, Esquire was the filing lawyer. The filing was done through JUSTICELINK, a public/private partnership between the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, Maryland and Andersen Consulting, LLP.

Cyberspace, virtual community, infocosm, information superhighway, Internet, WAN, LAN, modem, memory, windows — What does it all mean to the lawyer.

 

 

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