Category Archives: Information Technology

Supporting an Open Data Standards Approach for MassCourt Data*


The following is an open reply to the Massachusetts Trial Court’s call for comments regarding its Proposed Uniform Rules on Public Access to Court Records. It is the joint comment of multiple organizations and individuals. CPCS is a signatory, and this post is meant to provide some context explaining why. For a complete list of signatories, visit http://ma-court-comment.github.io/


Given that the adoption of a common data standard for the Massachusetts legal community offers the promise of increased efficiency, lower information sharing costs, and improved access to courts, we propose that the Massachusetts Trial Courts adopt a set of data standards to facilitate sharing information between the Trial Courts and other stakeholders, and that all data deemed publicly available be made accessible in a machine readable format consistent via an application programming interface (API) overseen by the courts. This would supersede the need for the Courts to create multiple, disparate portals for various stakeholders, as described in Rule 5. It would also simplify the procedures described in Rule 3 as the use cases envisioned could be conducted over the API.



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CPCS In Court App

The Committee for Public Counsel Services, is pleased to announce the launch of its first web app, “In Court.” See http://www.publiccounsel.net/incourt.

incourtThe project was the work of two legal-tech interns form Suffolk Law School, Jodie Gurry and Vedika Mehera. Gurry and Mehera built upon an existing CPCS tool, expanding its offerings to include resources for all CPCS practice areas. 

The app acts primarily as an aggregator, collecting links to various resources in a single mobile-friendly location. These are tools attorneys have found helpful to have on-hand in court. 

A list of most content sources along with an “updated on” date can be found by clicking on the information button (i.e., info ) found on each section’s navigation bar.

The resources are divided into seven sections, and you can filter content based on whether it is relevant to criminal or civil practice. Selecting “All” in the menu at the top of the home screen will show all content. Selecting “Criminal” will show only content relevant to criminal practice (e.g., PD, PC & YAD), and selecting “Civil” will show only content relevant to civil practice (e.g., CAFL, MH). The sections include:

  1. Duty Day Resources. A collection of quick-reference resources commonly helpful to have on hand at arraignment, including: judicial assignments, access to the MA Master Crime List and DYS grid, a tool for calculating indigency, and links directly to statutes for bail, dangerousness et al.  
  2. Practice Guides. A collection of guides and case notes for adult and juvenile criminal practice, child and family law, and mental health litigation.  
  3. Statutes, Cases, Rules et al. Links to commonly referenced rules and statutes along with tools for searching statutes and case law. 
  4. Tools and Guesstimators. A collection of general tools that might prove helpful, including a duration calculator, historical weather data search, language translator, and sentencing calculator.  
  5. Tables, Lists & Glossaries.  Includes: a list of judicial assignments, MA Master Crime List and DYS grid, and commonly used disposition codes to name a few. 
  6. Directories. Includes: attorney lookup by BBO number, court directories, CPCS staff directory, Mass Legal Services resource finder, District Attorney offices, DOC facilities, social service organizations, and DMH offices.
  7. Legal App roundup. A list of legal-interest iOS and Android apps. 

Gurry and Mehera shadowed CPCS attorneys across the Commonwealth to better understand their practice, and it is hoped the tool will find a home on the phones/tablets of attorneys across the Commonwealth. 

In Court is a web app. So you will not find it in an app store. All you have to do is visit the In Court page and add it to your home screen. If you’re unsure how to do that, check out How to Add Websites to the Home Screen on Any Smartphone or Tablet.

We are actively looking to improve our offerings. So if you have suggestions for tools we have missed or you discover a broken link, use the “Contact Curator” button in-app to send us an email.

For those of you interested in the details, the codebase for the app is available on GitHub and licensed under an MIT license

Featured image above by D Colarusso, left to right: Vedika Mehera and Jodie Gurry.