the use of technology while the newer, less experienced people in the industry have the most enthusiasm, vision and energy about the use of technology.
The courts are the most conservative institution of government -- and they're supposed to be. The Constitution wasn't meant to be changed every day because it's the foundation upon which everything is built. It's supposed to stay as solid as a rock. So, you're talking about taking the most rapidly changing area on one hand, and talking about how it plays in one of society's most conservative institutions on the other.
As people here at the Center say, the problem is sort of a mental problem or a people problem more than a technology problem. Finding the technological solutions is turning out to be easier than solving the people problems and the attitude problems that are really necessary in order to speed the integration of information technology in the court system.
GT: In addition to institutional conservatism, would you identify some other hurdles the judicial system must grapple with to improve or increase its use of information technology?
Warren: Funding has traditionally been viewed by the courts as an obstacle. We went to the Board of Supervisors when I was in Sacramento, and said we wanted so much money to buy this or buy that. In the late 1980s and the early 1990s, when we were most interested in buying all of this stuff, the state of California and the county of Sacramento were least interested in purchasing it because they had their own budget problems.
When your workload is growing and the resources aren't there, you become most aware of the fact that technology is a solution. In that fiscal climate, it's difficult to invest in technology which produces savings downstream.
I think that over time the courts have become much more sophisticated about addressing the funding problem. People here at the Center refer to this as the "Painting the Golden Gate" analogy. The idea is not to go out and buy a system, then realize that the system today will be the wrong system for tomorrow. And you can't put together one system in one year anyway.
So what the National Center has helped courts see is that they need to do this over time, in the same way you paint the Golden Gate bridge from end-to-end, then start over. You invest something in year one and something in year two and so on. Then you've gotten to the end of the span and you start repainting again.
In the first year, you may invest in PCs and word processing, or e-mail -- the kinds of things that allow people to see an immediate application so they sort of start to feel comfortable using computers. In the second year, you start to invest in case management systems that allow the court to manage its workload more effectively. In the third year, you invest in imaging systems that allow you to present images of physical evidence to the jury and allow you to automate your traffic ticket system. In the fourth year, you do kiosks and the Internet and things that increase public access. At some point the PC becomes obsolete, so you go back and update your PC.
That kind of an approach seems like a much more intelligent use of technology. It avoids the problem of technology becoming obsolete and is much more attractive to funders who see a regular plan or process of investment, and the cost per year is spread out.
GT: My next question has to do with what is often called the justice enterprise, which includes courts, police, corrections and other portions of the compartmentalized criminal justice system. How important is hooking these separate units together so that