information can be shared?
Warren: It's critical, and the courts are only recently beginning to realize how critical it is. It's only relatively recently we have begun to realize that the courts are really part of somewhat separate justice systems. Now I think there is much recognition that these are in fact systems, that if you push something here, something is going to pop out over here; that if something's broken over here, something isn't going to work over there.
The courts are in a unique leadership position in these systems because of the function of courts and because of our role in the system. The courts are in a position to provide leadership. One of the areas we need to provide leadership in is communication and sharing information among all of these agencies that are part of these various systems. One of the ways to do that is through the use of technology.
We're now at a point where the technology that allows us to communicate between separate independent systems has arrived. Now we're talking about networking and how every court can have its own system and we still can come up with ways to allow that system to communicate with some other system. The technology is there that allows for good system communication.
And we're back to our earlier discussion, that the obstacles now are no longer technological, but are just human. It's identifying the leadership and the systemwide planning that needs to be done in order to accomplish that.
GT: Given that, would you tell us about the National Center and what it can offer courts?
Warren: We have the most technologically advanced courtroom in the world here, the so-called Courtroom 21 project, which we run jointly with the College of William and Mary Law School. Students at the law school and visitors from around the world come here to see that courtroom used.
Then we have our technology lab where state-of-the-art hardware and software with court applications is available. People from around the world can come to the lab either for general education purposes -- where our court technology lab people will demonstrate the uses of technology in the courts -- or they can come for shopping purposes. Say some court official wants to buy something and doesn't know exactly what to buy. We will demo the technology that is available to meet that need, and the vendors will come here and demonstrate their equipment. Our staff will offer advice to the buyer with regard to the vendor's demo and the vendor's equipment. We offer that kind of shopping advice to courts through the technology lab.
We're now getting very much into the Internet and offering to help courts get on the Internet. We are increasingly being asked to help courts design home pages and things like that. We also do a lot of consulting where we go to a court and offer some technical assistance or longer term consultation to the court in connection with some technology matter. It could be general education.; it could be just advising them on a technology decision; it could be helping them write an RFP when they don't have any experience doing that.
In addition, we have a bunch of publications. We have a court technology report, a special project report and a regular Court Technology Bulletin that gets published every other month.
GT: What are some future plans at the Center regarding technology and the courts?
Warren: It's a little early for me to answer that. I just haven't been here long enough. By the end of this year, hopefully I'll be able to answer that question more specifically about what direction the Center is going to take, including in technology.