From nearly the beginning of the ECR Program, Clerk's Office staff worked at the state and national levels with legal, municipal, technical, and other experts toward the development of Legal XML (eXtensible Markup Language) standards for the electronic exchange of legal data. As early as the 1990s, King County was considering the technical ramifications of moving from paper to an electronic court record. The Clerk's Office took to heart the advice of a consultant who urged the county to avoid becoming an “island of technology” with a peculiar, idiosyncratic system. This advice guided Clerk's Office work toward technical standards for electronic court records.
King County Clerk's Office staff recognized that developing technical standards specific to electronic court records would provide immediate efficiency by providing reliable guidelines for development of the ECR Program. If customers have to learn completely different technical requirements for different courts' e-filing systems, the electronic filing process will fail. The potential for technical standards to provide for greater scalability as the Program progressed was additionally compelling.
According to the Electronic Filing Technical Standards for the Washington State Courts, technical standards support several desirable business goals:
- Interoperability: the ability of a litigant to file electronically in different courts.
- Flexibility: the ability to allow litigants to file electronically in courts that use any of several different business models.
- Openness: the ability for a court to offer electronic filing so it can be accomplished by multiple electronic filing service vendors.
- Efficiency: the ability of any court or filing provider to use standard software for successful electronic court filing.
General Court Rule 30, adopted by the Washington State Supreme Court, requires the Washington Court Judicial Information System Committee (JISC) to adopt technical standards for Washington courts implementing electronic filing.
National standards for electronic court filing have been developed primarily through the efforts of the OASIS LegalXML Electronic Court Filing Technical Committee. The National Center for State Courts: Court Specific Standards shows the current standards submitted.