WATER COURT TECHNOLOGY WHITE PAPER

The concept for this paper was launched over a summer lunch with Beth McLaughlin, the Supreme Court Administrator. We were discussing the University of Montana Study on the Future of Water in Montana with me concurring with the Study’s call for improved water right record systems – adding that the Water Court had not been able to take advantage of the Judicial Branch’s enterprise approach for court case management systems because of the Water Court’s unique case flow and dependency on the Department of Natural Resources central water rights database for many core processes. I offered to write this White Paper on Water Court Technology thinking my prior experience as the former Director of Court Technology for the Judicial Branch coupled with several years working on water right related projects with my husband, Jim Gilman, the former DNRC Water Adjudication Bureau Chief, might offer some insight on areas for water right record improvement and water court case processing. Attachment C provides a list of data sources and material referenced in writing this paper. I met briefly with Chief Water Judge Russell McElyea and his interest in the paper was clear – identify proven court technologies to make water court case processing more efficient and improve access to water court records. I met with Water Court staff to review high level business processes and was provided substantial background information from Sandy Palakovich the Water Court Administrator. It is clear the Water Court staff share Judge McElyea’s enthusiasm and vision for improving case management in the court. I spoke with Lisa Mader, Chief Information Officer, for the Judicial Branch. Lisa asked that the White Paper be sufficiently comprehensive for Court Technology Program staff to gain a better understanding of water right record systems, processes and technology needs.

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