Legal Disaster

Seeking to ensure critical information related to court cases is not lost or destroyed in the event of a disaster, California's Judicial Council has announced the adoption of a statewide set of guidelines to assist in contingency planning. Covering a broad range of concerns, the guidelines seek to establish best practices for such items as backing up of key data, maintaining secure password lists, sending notifications and alerts, and ensuring readiness through disaster simulations.

Judge Gary Nadler spoke of the need for increased consideration for disaster recovery and emergency preparedness at the council's November meeting, observing of October's wildfires in Sonoma County that "We didn't know at any point whether the fire would overtake one or more of the courthouses," and mentioning the court's case files were only saved when the IT director carried out the case management system's backup server by hand.

Said Judge Sheila Hanson, chair of the Judicial Council's Information Technology Advisory Committee which developed the guidelines, "When we talk about disasters we're thinking about disasters of all kinds, whether from extreme weather events or earthquakes, failures of IT systems, facilities, or utilities, or intentional malicious conduct."