Ambitious Effort to Digitize State Trial Court Records Provides Unprecedented Insight (Article)

Trellis opens the door on overlooked state courts.

Arguably the most annoying part of my career involved going to state court. Federal court had a genteel order to it. The only difference between the Southern District of New York and a random district elsewhere was the courthouse.

But state court was a wild mess. Hours of cattle call appearances. County clerk offices that functioned like personal fiefdoms. And impossible to search records. It’s hard to get a handle on a court system with depths you can’t plumb.

When we first talked to Trellis back in the early days of the pandemic, the company had an ambitious plan to gather the ungatherable — digitize state court documents and put them all under one searchable roof. At the time, the project had made impressive inroads into a few choice jurisdictions. Catching up with CEO Nicole Clark at Legalweek, the company’s come a long way in a very short amount of time.

Today, Trellis has the court documents from 17 states — or, given the power of county clerks to support or obstruct the process, it’s fairer to say 475 counties. There are over 100 million searchable filings.

And with a lot of documents comes a lot of opportunities for powerful analytics.

At the trial level, efforts to unravel a state court judge always suffered from a lack of reported opinions to analyze. With the vast Trellis library, the system can provide ruling and grant rate analytics, projected case and motion duration information broken down by subject matter, and insights into the judge’s experience drawn directly from their docket. The system provides similar insights on opposing counsel and expert witnesses.

Analytics like these aren’t necessarily new to the industry, but past efforts presented the state court picture through a glass darkly. Published state trial court opinions are few and far between and only provide part of the picture. With a full accounting of the docket, Trellis gets a clearer look at how judges manage their matters.

With all the documents under the Trellis roof, users can also take advantage of a practical brief bank tailored to the court they need. Find model jury instructions and motion language specific to the judge’s taste. 

Meet Lawyer Entrepreneur Nicole Clark CEO Of Trellis — The Google Of Legal Analytics


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.