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Local IT Solutions Provider Helps eFileMA Advance from Pilot to Thriving Program
The Massachusetts court system’s e-filing initiative, which allows attorneys, state agencies, and self-represented litigants to file court cases and legal documents through a web portal, has completed a successful pilot phase and is now expanding. Boston-based Relational Semantics, Inc. (RSI), a provider of IT solutions and services for state courts and agencies, played a key role in the pilot’s success and is actively supporting the current program expansion.
The e-filing program, called eFileMA, was officially launched in 2015 with the aim of providing litigants a convenient way to file cases and documents while also reducing the courts’ time and costs associated with managing paper documentation. The pilot program rolled out in six courts, with three at the Appellate Court level – including the Supreme Judicial Court – and three at the Trial Court level. By early 2017 an internal review of the pilot program had concluded that the program was successfully meeting its objectives, and in March the Massachusetts court system proposed updated rules and procedures that would make the e-filing program permanent and expand its scope.
eFileMA’s expansion is well underway and has the program covering more case types, more document types, and more court locations. For example, at the Appellate Court level e-filing is now supported for criminal cases as well as civil cases, and for filing of motions as well as briefs. In the Trial Courts, e-filing is now available for 21 District Court locations and 7 Probate and Family Court counties.
As the maker of the Forecourt® electronic case management system (CMS) that has long been used by the Appellate Courts to automate their daily business processes, RSI has been integral to the e-filing initiative from the outset. RSI provided technical and operational expertise in helping the Appellate Courts design the initial e-filing pilot program; developed the Forecourt ECF Adapter to integrate the Courts’ CMS with the third party e-filing web portal; and provided ongoing support for systems integration and business process optimization in connection with the e-filing pilot.
“The e-filing pilot program entailed a range of technical issues, particularly around integration of systems from multiple vendors,” noted RSI President Bob Gorman. “Throughout the pilot we monitored the Courts’ core IT systems and identified, diagnosed, and resolved issues promptly to help keep the e-filing service running smoothly 24/7.”
Along with contributing to the success of the e-filing pilot, RSI provided the systems integration work to facilitate the recent expansions of the Appellate Courts’ e-filing service to include additional case types and document types. Looking ahead to the remainder of 2017, RSI expects to support further extensions of the program, such as to include e-filing for Single Justice cases (currently e-filing is available only for panel cases), and e-filing for impounded cases and documents. As RSI continues to help the Appellate Courts extend the scope of the e-filing program, the Courts can build on the progress they have made in reducing reliance on costly and cumbersome paper-driven business processes while at the same time improving services for users of the court system.
Relational Semantics, Inc. (RSI) has been building, deploying, and supporting IT solutions for state governments for three decades. Based in Boston, RSI serves the New England region exclusively. Our Forecourt systems for the judicial branch, and Paragon® systems for the executive branch, help state government meet core operational requirements like case management, application processing, data integration, mobile productivity, and public access.
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Provider of State IT Solutions Lays the Systems Integration Groundwork for e-Filing
Boston, Massachusetts - July 21, 2014
RSI®, a leading provider of IT solutions and services for state courts and government agencies, is working closely with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and Appeals Court to ready their IT systems for the state’s upcoming e-filing pilot program. The new e-filing service, to be called “eFileMA”, will enable attorneys, state agencies, and self-represented litigants to file court cases and legal documents through a web portal.
The e-filing initiative is a critical part of a broader effort to migrate Massachusetts courts from their historical reliance on paper documents to a primarily digital system that will reduce storage and staffing costs while improving accessibility. The pilot program will roll out e-filing services for six courts — three at the Trial Court level and three at the Appellate Court level (including the Supreme Judicial Court). A milestone in the pilot program preparations was reached in April when the Massachusetts Courts announced the selection of a third-party, out-of-state company to build and operate the web portal through which case participants will e-file documents for submission to the courts.
While the web portal component may have the most visible public profile, the portal is just one part of the IT transformation that’s being undertaken to support e-filing. A key challenge for the courts is to integrate the e-filing web portal with the courts’ current IT systems. For the Appellate Court, this integration effort is being led by RSI, whose Forecourt® case management system (CMS) is used by the Court to streamline and automate its daily business operations.
For the eFileMA program, RSI is providing the Forecourt ECF Adapter solution that will seamlessly integrate the new e-filing web portal with the Appellate Court’s critical business systems. The ECF Adapter will process data and documents coming from the web portal and then automatically update case records in the Forecourt CMS as well as routing case documents into the Court’s electronic document management system.
The ECF Adapter is compliant with ECF 4.0, an open industry standard for conducting transactions between the multiple components of an end-to-end e-filing infrastructure. RSI’s Forecourt ECF Adapter is a vendor-neutral solution that can be used in combination with any ECF-compliant e-filing component or CMS.
Along with providing a systems integration solution for ingestion of e-filed data and documents, RSI is helping the Appellate Courts prepare for the profound changes in business processes and workflows that will follow from a shift toward electronic case documents. “The initial challenge in launching the new e-filing service is getting the different systems integrated, and electronically storing the submitted documents,” said RSI President Bob Gorman. “The second challenge is to reengineer the business processes for the new workflow, and revise the IT systems to support those processes.”
For example, RSI is developing an interface between its Forecourt CMS and the Appellate Court’s document management system that will enable judges and court staff to access electronic case documents directly through the CMS, together with case docket information as a complete solution. RSI's Forecourt Touch mobile application gives judges the ability to review their caseloads and case documents through a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device.
While providing the Court with the software solutions it needs to maximize the business value of e-filing, RSI has also played a key advisory role for the Court since the inception of the e-filing initiative. Looking ahead, RSI will drive several phases of testing to ensure that all the elements of the new e-filing infrastructure are working together properly. For the Appellate Court, the eFileMA pilot is expected to go live in 2015.
Relational Semantics, Inc. (RSI) has been building, deploying, and supporting IT solutions for state governments for three decades. Based in Boston, RSI serves the New England region exclusively. Our Forecourt systems for the judicial branch, and Paragon® systems for the executive branch, help state government meet core operational requirements like case management, application processing, data integration, mobile productivity, and public access. For more information, visit https://www.rsi.com/.
Relational Semantics, Inc. (RSI) is honored to receive acclaim in Courts Today magazine, with a featured article on Case Management Software Review, the FORECOURT Judicial Case Management System (CMS) was noted as providing docketing, calendaring, noticing, reporting and time standards operations to State Courts, and offering Electronic Notification to case litigants via email, Electronic Publishing of case records to the Web for public viewing, and Electronic Filing of case documents by attorneys and Pro Se litigants via the Web.