Hennepin County District Court
Sometimes, the impact that one person can have across the entire local legal scene can be formidable. Case in point: James Anderson.
“Thanks to him, most of us working in the legal community have benefitted from his contributions,” said nominator Peter Cahill, Hennepin County Chief Judge and chair of the eCourtMN steering committee. “He’s become the hinge between technology and the work of the court, creating a business environment friendly to the bar and accountable to the public.”
Starting his career over three decades ago, Anderson first worked as a court reporter before getting a degree in computer programming in 1996. A year later, he joined the district court IT department as a programmer and since then, has worked on numerous projects that benefit the court and the legal community. He designed and developed the court’s first inventory database for tracking asset schedules, created automated procedures that improved the court’s business systems — including the first electronic transfer of ticketwriter citations — and developed customized databases that boosted staff efficiency, among many other contributions.
Most notably, he was instrumental in a digital recording project, CourtSmart, which permanently changed the way many proceedings are recorded and preserved. The system is used in every courtroom in the county to electronically capture and store case proceedings.
In another significant project, during the transition from county to state funding of courts, Anderson worked to move the district court staff, information, and email systems from Hennepin County to the judicial branch.
“I’ve always enjoyed working on projects that can solve problems and help people do their jobs more quickly,” said Anderson. “It’s rewarding to be able to use technology in a meaningful way, especially when it has a larger impact. We seem to always find new ways to do things, and are constantly in a state of improvement. To me, that’s very exciting work.”