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Young Lawyers’ Division of the Hawai`i State Bar Association

Posted on Oct 29, 2003 in Speeches

Remarks by the

HON. RONALD T. Y. MOON

to the

Young Lawyers’ Division of the
Hawai`
i State Bar Association

HSBA Convention — YLD Luncheon
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Sheraton-Waikiki (Moloka`i Room)

GOOD AFTERNOON, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

In 1926, Lee DeForest, known as “The Father of Radio,” said, “While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially, I consider it an impossibility, a development of which we need waste little time dreaming.” Unlike Mr. DeForest, business leaders have long recognized that the futures of their organizations are dependent on the present and developing technology and have made major strategic investments in information technology in order to achieve long-term cost savings, better value, and increased operational efficiency. Thus, electronic commerce and communication — utilizing state-of-the-art technology — have become the norm in the business community.

Unfortunately, the government sector — and, today, I refer specifically to the Judiciary — has not been able to keep pace with the ever-advancing technology due to the lack of resources. Consequently, our computerized case management systems have been developed, piecemeal, over the past thirty years, resulting in approximately eleven disparate computer systems that serve different courts and functions. The current systems are antiquated, limited in application, unable to share data with each other, and in dire need of a major overhaul or replacement.

I am, therefore, pleased to report that — next week — the Judiciary will, at last, kick-off a long-planned, major technology project that will bring our case management system into the 21st Century. The Judiciary Information Management Systems or JIMS — when fully implemented over the next approximately seven years — will allow courts at all levels and on all islands to manage and view information associated with individual cases and parties, implement work flow, organize data, eliminate redundant data entry, generate notices, orders, and other official documents automatically, and lessen the need for volumes of paper. JIMS will also replace the various trust fund fiscal systems which should be, but are not, tied to the existing case management system. Ultimately, the benefits reaped through the new system will translate into improved public safety, increased efficiency in court operations, and better service to the public.

I will not bore you with the details of the history of the JIMS project or its funding mechanisms, but will try to answer the question that I am sure all of you are asking, and, that is: “How will the JIMS Project affect my practice?” The short answer is this: We believe it will — when fully implemented — have a significant, positive impact on your practice.

For example — have you or your secretary ever received a frantic telephone call from your messenger, who is at the cashier’s window at the courthouse, advising that she cannot file the complaint because the amount on the check is wrong? The cashier’s window will close in ten minutes, thus, you don’t have enough time to re-cut the check and run it down to the courthouse, but the complaint needs to be filed as the statute of limitations will expire that day. What do you do? Calling your E & O carrier might be a good place to start, BUT, with JIMS, you would simply get on your computer and electronically transmit the correct payment.

In fact, with JIMS, you would be able to electronically file your complaint and make the necessary payments all on-line, without having to send your messenger to the courthouse. And, this would be true for any document required to be filed with the court.

Imagine working feverishly on the finishing touches of an appellate brief for which no further extensions of time will be granted. There is no way you will finish in time to get it to the post office for mailing to ensure a timely post-mark. With JIMS in place, you will have the ability to file your appellate briefs electronically, thus, affording you more time to input those final touches. Electronic filing will also eliminate those frantic trips by frazzled associates to neighbor islands to timely file critical documents, resulting in valuable savings of time and money for you and your clients.

This next example may have a resounding familiarity for those of you who must juggle child care duties and your practice. Imagine working on a memorandum in opposition to a motion for summary judgment. It’s still early in the day, and you feel confident you can finish it and have it filed by the end of the day, which is when it is due. Your phone rings; it’s your child’s day care calling to request that you pick up your child because she is sick. No problem. You gather your files and research material as you know you can pick up your child, work at home, and transmit the document back to the office to your secretary for printing and filing.

However, when you arrive at home an hour and half later, you realize you picked up the wrong pleading file. Certain documents in the file you left behind are critical to your memo, what do you do? With JIMS, you can simply access those documents on-line from the court’s case file as all documents will be either electronically scanned or were electronically filed into the system. And, as previously mentioned, once you complete your memo, you can also electronically file it with the court from your home.

In addition to accessing the actual documents on-line and the ability to electronically file your documents, you will also be able to check on litigation involving potential clients as JIMS will track parties, including aliases, and provide information regarding their contacts with the court. For example, an individual walks into your office, seeking representation regarding a particular claim or pending case. The information available through JIMS will allow you, with a minimum investment of time, to check out the individual’s claim or pending case on-line, prior to accepting him or her as a client. You may learn that the individual is a vexatious litigant; you may learn that his or her claim has or could have been litigated in a companion case that has already been resolved; or you may learn that the description of the pending or prior case provided by the potential client is not exactly as was described.

These are just a few examples of what will be possible with JIMS. When fully implemented, JIMS will obviously and dramatically change the way we process cases and, in turn, affect the way you practice. Equally obvious is the fact that this massive-undertaking — both in terms of human and financial resources — will present many challenges, including privacy and security concerns; difficulty in standardizing operations, forms, and practices; disagreements over data ownership; training of Judiciary personnel and courts users, including dealing with resistance to change; and much more. We are convinced, however, that JIMS will transform — for the better — the way the Judiciary does business. The JIMS project will be implemented in phases via what we call “functional modules.” The traffic module will be first as it is the system that is considered to be the most “broken.” The criminal module will be next, followed by civil, then family, and finally the appellate module.

Input from the Bar is obviously critical as we move forward. Thus, I invite you to write to me at my office and let us know about any of your concerns regarding our processes or to share ideas you may have for improving court operations through technology.

Ladies and gentlemen — before closing, I would like to acknowledge a few people who have been instrumental in the development of the JIMS Project and who will — as the Executive Steering Committee — continue to work diligently throughout the implementation phase over the next several years. They are: (1) Co-Chairs of our Executive Committee on Court Technology and Information Management — The Honorable Corinne Watanabe and Chief Information Officer David Maeshiro; (2) JIMS Project Director — Milton Hee; (3) Judiciary employees: James Branham; Bonnie Brooks; Janell Kim; Walter Ozawa; and Christina Uebelein.

As I indicated earlier, the JIMS Project will kick-off next week with ACS Government Systems, Inc., a premier provider of business process and information technology outsourcing solutions. Indeed, this is an exciting time not only for the Judiciary, but for every practitioner in our legal community and every citizen in the community-at-large who is interested in enhancing the administration of justice.

Thank you for allowing me to address you and for your attentiveness.