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Doug Rowe

2030: A glimpse of the future at the 2018 NCSC eCourts Conference

2019-01-04

It’s hard to imagine that in the last 11 years how much technology has transformed the world (cellphones, AI, 3-D printing, just to name a few). We are, at this moment, just 11 years away from 2030. What will courtrooms look like then? How will technology impact access to justice and the adjudication of cases?

BerryDunn recently participated in the National Center for State Courts Conference in Las Vegas, where the future of the justice system played a major role. It was great to see many familiar faces and meet new colleagues with the same mission―sharing ideas and successes with the goal of making courts more efficient and accessible to the public, now and in the future. For those unable to attend (the conference did sell out), we wanted to highlight some important central themes from the conference presentations.

An intriguing roundtable discussion and other breakout forums at the conference focused on how advances in technology may shape the future delivery of justice services to the public. Key themes included:

  • Virtual versus physical courtrooms―will physical courtrooms become a thing of the past? Use of virtual courtrooms would eliminate the time and expense burden associated with participation in proceedings in a physical courtroom environment; parties wouldn’t have to take so much time from work, arrange childcare, arrange transportation to/from the courthouse, and pay for parking. Some level of virtualization is happening today in our courtrooms through remote testimonies and video conferencing. There was general consensus among panelists that the future courtroom will look much different.
  • Artificial intelligence―courts and legal procedures work well for those involved in the courts on a daily basis, and are trained and knowledgeable in their procedures. For others, the justice system is difficult to navigate; specifically for self-represented litigants. Access to justice is designed for those trained to use it and use it regularly—not for a casual user of the courts. Artificial intelligence (AI), along with notification technology, may be used to help people navigate the justice system with ease.

    The panel discussed seemingly endless opportunities for utilizing AI technologies to bridge this gap between those who know how to navigate the system and those who don’t, enhancing the justice experience for everyone.
  • Aging staff/attrition―the panel discussed the shifting focus from internal operations (i.e., physical buildings and self-hosted case management systems) to an external focus (i.e., providing court services using outsourced means). Outsourcing technology, and acquiring it as a service (i.e., subscription model) may reduce the burden on internal staff, and decrease the need for physical data centers. The addition of more automated tools (such as a robot greeter in the courthouse lobby as featured at the conference―quite an experience) is just one example of a progressive use of technology to benefit the public.

Orange County, CA Superior Court―e-notifications using text messages

The judicial process is extremely deadline driven. For self-represented individuals, meeting deadlines and knowing what information is needed next and when can be the difference between successful and unsuccessful outcomes.

Orange County, CA Superior Court (OC Court) has long been an innovator and early adopter of the latest advances in technology. Orange County conducted a pilot program using e-notification reminders to litigants and interested parties. Using intelligent workflows, text notification reminders are pushed out mobile phones regarding deadlines, court appearances, and other schedule-related activities.

The panelists report that the pilot program has been highly successful, resulting in a significant reduction in failures to appear. The OC Court plans to continue to find innovative ways to utilize technology to better serve the public, increase access to justice, and simplify the navigation of the court system.

At BerryDunn, our goal is to help justice and public safety clients make the most of their technology investments. We have a complete portfolio of service offerings to assist justice agencies with their unique technology challenges and organizational change management needs.

Please contact the leader of BerryDunn’s Justice & Public Safety practice, Doug Rowe, for more information.

See you at the CTC in September, 2019!