[Cache from http://www.nmcourt.fed.us/xci/xcihome.htm; use this canonical URL.

XCI Home Page

The US District Court, District of New Mexico was an early pioneer of electronic filing via the Internet. The first pilot was begun in the summer of 1994. Shortly thereafter, the US Bankruptcy Court of New Mexico started participating in a joint development effort, followed by the New Mexico State Judiciary. In addition, the US Attorney General started their electronic pilot with New Mexico because it was considered the most advanced electronic filing system at the time.

Based on lessons learned from these early efforts, design of XCI (XML Court Interface) was begun in August, 1998. Factors motivating this development include the arrival of new enabling technologies, the need for a system that is easier to install in a variety of courts, the need for a national standard protocol for delivering pleadings to courts electronically, the need for bulk automated (unattended) filings, and the need to encourage competitive and less costly vendor support for attorneys. A standard protocol would allow attorneys to electronically file in multiple jurisdictions without having to retrain for different court filing systems.

XCI design is based on the premise that closed, proprietary systems are not acceptable. Such systems are expensive (for the litigants, attorneys, and/or the courts) and lock courts into technologies that are difficult to enhance as better alternatives become available. Without a standard, different jurisdictions will have vastly different approaches, and attorneys and law firms will be far more reluctant to train on multiple electronic filing systems. A simplified "free" access option is provided in XCI design. Vendors, however, can play an important role in an XCI-based system. XCI is designed so that the standard-format messages can be processed by an intermediary and vendors can provide such value-added services as delayed filing (if the court server is down), handle filing fees, perform format conversions, integrate with case management systems, perform technical support, train, and so on. Courts will find it difficult or impossible to technically support a large number of attorneys without the help of vendors, the bar, and law firms.

In June, 1999, the District of New Mexico asked for and received a grant from the Administrative Office of the US Courts (as part of their larger effort to promote public access) to develop an XCI demonstration with the goal of promoting a standard for XML court filing. The XCI demonstration software is the culmination of this effort. It was developed by Rich Himes under the direction of Robert M. March, Clerk of Court, US District Court, District of New Mexico.

The original intent was to post the demonstration source code for download. However, we are attempting to place a copyleft on it first, and there is a team of attorneys and law professors studying the problem. We would like the software to be included in a pool of open (non-proprietary) software along with contributions from the Georgia State University (GSU) Legal-XML committee (see below). Copyleft provides better protection from hijacking than the public domain. The issues are complex, though, especially since this software was developed by the federal government (interestingly, the Judicial Branch isn't subject to the Freedom of Information Act.) The General Counsel of AOUSC has advised us to not publish the source code at this time. We hope to have these issues resolved by the end of the calendar year.

We would like to hear from other courts who are studying XCI for their own efforts and would also like to work with other courts toward a standard for XML electronic court filing.

Related efforts include

This document was last modified on July 05, 2000
Please mail webmaster@nmcourt.fed.us, with comments.