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Subject: Re: [courtfiling-doc] Breaking Court Document out of Court Filing

Title: RE: [courtfiling-doc] Breaking Court Document out of Court Filing
John has given a good summary of the discussion in Atlanta as I recall it.
In Atlanta, I started out intending to present a "prototype" XML schema for court documents, but wound up asking whether those present thought such an effort truly would be useful to the TC. No one opposed or was in any way hostile toward such an effort. However, there was doubt expressed whether the effort was particularly useful considering problems with consistently displaying XML documents. There also is still a lack of good XML editing tools that make it relatively easy for users such as judges, lawyers, clerks, and their secretaries to create XML court documents.  The consensus among those present was that the better approach at present is for court documents to be submitted as .pdf files instead of XML for purposes of electronic filing, and that an XML schema for court documents is interesting but of little practical value.
I believe one reason the Court Filing and Court Document efforts have proceeded along separate though related tracks has to do with fundamentally different views regarding the use of XML. The fundamental issue goes beyond using XML for court filings and court documents. XML can be used for either data-centric documents (sales orders, flight schedules, scientific data, and stock quotes, and similar documents that use XML as a data-transport for machine consumption) or document-centric documents (articles, books, email, advertisements, and similar documents intended for human consumption). Distinguishing XML documents as either data-centric or document-centric is not always clear cut, but the characterization affects a number of considerations. Two good (and brief) summaries of this subject are at http://www.isgmlug.org/database.html and http://www.rpbourret.com/xml/XMLAndDatabases.htm#datavdocs.
With the court document effort, we have taken a document-centric approach to XML, while the court filing effort has been far more data-centric for understandable reasons.  We actually have accommodated both approaches up to this point and it's possible to continue doing so in the future. Whether efforts to come up with a standard XML schema for court documents take place within the Court Filing TC or a separate TC is not an important issue for me - I can live with either approach. The more important question for me is whether the effort is really beneficial.
Finally, I agree that the time is not ripe to form a new TC for all types of legal documents. I'd rather see standard XML schema evolve for contracts, wills, deeds, UCC filing statements, etc. as well as for court documents before anyone undertakes to standardize the standards. 
Rolly Chambers
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, May 15, 2003 10:12 AM
Subject: RE: [courtfiling-doc] Breaking Court Document out of Court Filing

The discussion in Atlanta focused on several matters


         One, should Court Document be incorporated into Court Filing Blue?  Those who expressed views thought not.  The two specifications should remain separate, although they would both evolve in the same general directions for the Blue generation of TC specifications.

         Two, what changes need to be made to Court Document as the subcommittee develops a schema-based specification?  Among the issues discussed was a revisiting of a basic issue that the TC had grappled with in the past – how can we guarantee to lawyers and to courts that XML documents will retain their content and formatting when displayed on different browsers and applications within law offices and courts?  Our previous discussions all concluded that use of the same style sheet would obtain this result.  All we needed to do was have the lawyer include the style sheet with the XML instance, and “sign” both, and we could guarantee the integrity of the content within the document and the format in which it appeared.  The discussion in Atlanta reached the opposite factual conclusion – at the current level of development of XML, we cannot be assured of the integrity of the content or the format when documents are displayed using different browsers and different applications.  TC members in Atlanta stated, without contradiction, that if a document created with Court Document 1.1 is displayed with a different browser than the one used to create it, it may show different content and different formatting.  The likelihood of those changes is not predictable.  It is also impossible to require all participants to use the same browser and application to avoid this result.  It was also pointed out that the same is true to a far lesser extent for pdf – specifically -- that special characters can display differently in a pdf than in the document from which it was created, such as a special symbol used as a bullet displaying as a character instead.  Pdf, however, has proved to be sufficiently representative to have earned the confidence of lawyers and courts.  This discussion suggested to some of those present that Court Document 1.1, and any future Court Document specifications, will – at the current state of XML technology – be useful primarily for form-based documents (in which only the data is of great consequence) and not for “free text” documents.  We all agreed that we need to do more testing of Court Document in different configurations to determine how reliable it will be in practice.

         There was no intimation that the full Technical Committee was uninterested in or unwilling to continue to work on these issues with the Court Document subcommittee in the future.  In fact, this was one of the very best and most thorough explorations of the issues associated with Court Document that I have observed in the long history of the TC.  Dallas Powell, Shane Durham and Dr. Leff made extremely valuable contributions to the discussion of the issues that Rolly raised on behalf of the subcommittee.


The discussion of a separate TC for court document took place on the conference call following the Atlanta meeting, not at the Atlanta meeting.  It was initiated by Diane Lewis, arising from her analysis of the charters of all of the Legal XML Member Section Technical Committees for the Member Section Steering Committee.


I disagree with Jim Keane’s suggestion that persons interested in a separate Legal Documents Technical Committee should make a proposal to OASIS to create one.  Given the importance of this issue to the Legal XML Member Section, I believe that the matter should be studied by our new Steering Committee and that all members of the Member Section should abide that the Steering Committee’s decision of the issue.  The discussion has raised a number of valid points pro and con and we should rely on the governance mechanism we have created to resolve them.



John M. Greacen

Greacen Associates, LLC

HCR 78, Box 23

Regina, New Mexico 87046


505-780-1450 (cell)


-----Original Message-----
From: Krause, Catherine [mailto:Catherine.Krause@METROKC.GOV]
Sent: Wednesday, May 14, 2003 9:46 AM
To: courtfiling-doc@lists.oasis-open.org
Subject: RE: [courtfiling-doc] Breaking Court Document out of Court Filing



Your idea sounds reasonable.

I also was not in Atlanta, and now re-reading the minutes (which I had skimmed previously), I understand more about why this topic came up -- I apologize for not doing so earlier.  The minutes seem to indicate that there was a discussion about whether the Court Document standard should be merged into the Court Filing standard, rather than have two separate standards, and that the topic was to be discussed further at the next face-to-face in July.  The minutes do not mention the discussion about Court Document separating from Court Filing and going "on their own" as you describe below.

It might be helpful for those of us who were not in Atlanta if someone who was in Atlanta could clarify, or at least confirm that John's summary below was also part of the conversation.


Catherine Krause
E-Filing Project Manager
King County Department of Judicial Administration


-----Original Message-----
From: jmessing [mailto:jmessing@law-on-line.com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 14, 2003 8:13 AM
To: courtfiling-doc@lists.oasis-open.org
Subject: [courtfiling-doc] Breaking Court Document out of Court Filing


I understand and appreciate the concern about retaining control within the CourtFiling TC over the standards that relate strictly to court documents.

However, there may be two levels here.

First, presenting a legal document in a format and manner that retains the "look and feel" of paper.

As I understand the discussions at Atlanta, most participants felt that PDF did a better job than XML at this stage of performing this first task and that continued efforts towards a CourtDocument schema within the CourtFiling TC were going to be deprecated in favor of using PDF. The consensus as explained to me was that the participants in a CourtDocument standard could proceed as a subcommittee on their own, but without support from the CourtFiling TC itself. As I was not present, please correct me if I have mispoken.

But I digress.

At a second level, there is a need to support the "hooks" for applications to make use of the data in the XML documents. These are fairly rudimentary and poorly understood at this stage in the evolution of CourtDocument, IMO.

We are learning from the eContracts TC some of the latter techniques, as like CourtDocument, eContracts require a familiar "look and feel" as well as application "hooks." They are different than those for CourtDocument, but related.

This leads me to the conclusion that what is needed is a LegalDocument TC, where the similarities and differences between the various "flavors" of documents can be normalized, using techniques of a "core" schema, inheritance of the "core" elements and attributes, extensions to the various domains: CourtDocument, eContracts, etc. as well as the types of hooks that are needed for specific applications in the various domains. I would add to this a universal citation standard, which the ABA has requested and authorized, and which does not strictly speaking fall within CourtFiling.

I would therefore like to see CourtDocument itself remain where it is, within the CourtFiling TC, and a new LegalDocument TC created, where the development of these techniques across the board (our original "horizontal" concept from the early days of LegalXML) can be developed. Then with a liasion from CourtFiling, the learning of this new TC, as appropriate, can be ported to CourtDocument, under the control of CourtFiling.

I would be interested in hearing from others about this idea.


If a proposal is made to revise the Court Filing TC charter to separate Court Document out and make it a separate TC, I suggest that rather than Court Filing TC members justifying the current charter where Court Document is part of it, the opposite needs to occur -- those proposing to separate Court Document from Court Filing need to make the case for doing so.

I do agree with Diane's statement that "close identification" between the groups has not been observed.  However, I view this as an issue to be addressed within the TC, not a reason to separate Court Document from Court Filing.  From my point of view as to what is needed for our electronic filing project (which I believe will also be needed for others), we need both a Court Filing standard and a Court Document standard, or possibly one standard that covers both.  The Court Document standard needs to include all the data tags that we need in order to process e-filed documents; in other words, it needs to include tags for all of the data that our staff currently keys into various CMS/DMS systems -- this is at a more detailed level than those included in the ECF 1.1 standard, which might be enough to get a document into the case file, but does not include tags for all of the additional data that we enter in various systems for various document types.  Until that level of detailed data tags are included, we will not be able to reach the ultimate goal of fully automating the processing of electronically filed documents, at least not in a large court of general jurisdiction like ours where we have multiple systems where data is entered today, and new ones being developed all the time.  It will take time to identify all of the needed tags, but I think we can get there.  The current Court Document standard is a good starting point that can be built upon for specific document types.

My view of the purpose of the Court Document standard is that it is to tag the data used by the clerk and/or court, the data that is of use to practitioners for their own purposes, as well as for other purposes such as electronic service, etc.  I do not feel that those members of the TC interested in Court Document should need to participate in a separate TC to ensure that the Court Document standard meets our needs; the additional time to attend meetings of multiple TCs is something that would be very difficult for many of us to do.  At this point, I strongly oppose separating Court Document out of the Court Filing TC.  My primary concern is that there would be even less identification with the Court Filing TC as a whole than there has been in the past.  Unless someone makes a strong case for doing so, I would be voting that I cannot live with a proposal to separate Court Document from Court Filing.


Catherine Krause
E-Filing Project Manager
King County Department of Judicial Administration


-----Original Message-----
From: Diane.Lewis@usdoj.gov [mailto:Diane.Lewis@usdoj.gov]
Sent: Monday, May 05, 2003 8:53 AM
To: 'courtfiling-doc@lists.oasis-open.org'; 'Roger.Winters@METROKC.GOV'
Subject: RE: [courtfiling-doc] Breaking Court Document out of Court Filing


thanks Roger for quick response,

i would suggest that the Court Filing stakeholders who have an interest in XML court document standard consider joining a separate Court Document TC ....

i have not seen demonstrated at the Court Filing meetings the "close identification" between the two at the meetings i have attended.....  the last set of meeting notes to my mind indicate the opposite... that the court filing envelope /transmission capability takes any BLOB... not exclusively a document that authored/created based on XML technologies/standards.

i would welcome a list of reasons from you and/or other ECF stakeholders as to why the document/filing components should remain in tandum....



-----Original Message-----
From: Roger.Winters@METROKC.GOV [mailto:Roger.Winters@METROKC.GOV]
Sent: Monday, May 05, 2003 11:40 AM
To: courtfiling-doc@lists.oasis-open.org
Subject: RE: [courtfiling-doc] Breaking Court Document out of Court Filing
Importance: Low



I will, of course, represent the ECF TC to the Steering Committee by conveying its requests, recommendations, etc., there. There are, by the way, specific OASIS procedures relating to the formation of Technical Committees, etc. Whatever decisions are reached would be implemented within those procedures.

Now, writing as an individual member of the ECF TC, I think this is the first time I've heard a proposal to move the Court Document committee toward being its own TC. I would think that Court Document needs to become more closely identified with Court Filing, where many of its stakeholders are involved.

Roger Winters
Electronic Court Records Manager
King County
Department of Judicial Administration
516 Third Avenue, E-609 MS: KCC-JA-0609
Seattle, Washington 98104
V: (206) 296-7838 F: (206) 296-0906

-----Original Message-----
From: Diane.Lewis@usdoj.gov [mailto:Diane.Lewis@usdoj.gov]
Sent: Monday, May 05, 2003 8:08 AM
To: courtfiling-doc@lists.oasis-open.org
Subject: [courtfiling-doc] Breaking Court Document out of Court Filing

 i am addressing this message through the court document filing SC...instead of directly to you.... so others can provide their thoughts.

I would like to request that you along with elected members to the LegalXML member Section board... consider a realignment of Court Document ... instead of being designated as a subcommittee under Court Filing.  I propose that

the community consider it a separate TC....   the charter for the
subcommittee can be rewritten to justify the need to place a definite boundary between court filing and court document.

i look forward to learning your detailed views on this proposal as well as learning the views of other court document SC members.

thanks for considering this idea.... diane

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