[JURIST] US Supreme Court [official website] Chief Justice John Roberts announced in the 2014 Year-End Report [report, PDF] Wednesday that the Supreme Court is developing an electronic filing system, expected to be operational in 2016. This will make documents available online to the public with no charge, including petitions, responses to petitions, merits briefs, motions and applications. In the report, Roberts explained that courts are usually more guarded in developing cutting-edge innovation. Additionally, Roberts stated the court must ensure the developments are accessible to the entire population, including “the most tech-intimated” and that important security concerns must also be satisfied. Other federal courts began using electronic systems as early as 2001, with more than one billion documents available online and 2.5 million documents filed online each month.
In October the court’s website was modified [press release] to improve functionality, including a reorganized menu and placing frequently requested information on the homepage. In 2010 the court began in-house hosting [press release] of its website and assumed the website management previously performed by the Government Printing Office. In the year-end report, Roberts provided an example of late implementation of technology in the Supreme Court, particularly concerning pneumatics, a type of technology involving compressed air identified in the 1890s. It was not until the 1930s that pneumatic tubes were used by the court to deliver copies of decisions to the media. The process, which remained in place until 1971, was described in 1968 as “perhaps the most primitive … in the entire communications industry.”