Mobile devices have become part of the fabric of our daily lives. They have fundamentally shifted how we, as consumers, experience services in many, if not most, industries.
Case in point: when was the last time you went to an actual bank to deposit a check? The use of mobile applications and web portals have all but replaced brick-and-mortar banking in our daily lives, and it has vastly improved the customer experience and caused a cultural shift that has transformed how the banking industry does business.
What if I told you that the judicial system in the United States could be next?
Even now, many courts allow citizens to pay fines and fees online through web-based portals and mobile devices. But what if we took things much, much further? What if, for a minor violation, a citizen can provide the necessary documentation and forms, receive a decision from a judge and pay any resulting fines, all without ever having to enter a courtroom or take time off of work?
Reducing the caseload for minor violations in the courtroom not only helps those defendants whose missed work time would potentially be a financial hardship, but it also helps relieve an overburdened court system. According to the Department of Justice and the Courts Statistics Project, the U.S. State Courts were actively managing approximately 103 million cases, roughly one court case for every three people in the United States. The substantial majority, 54 percent of cases, are non-felony traffic and minor code violation cases.
The court system and judges are not only managing full dockets, crowded courtrooms and antiquated paper-filing processes, but must also focus on complying with applicable laws, determining a person’s ability to pay, issuing a fair and equitable decision and expediting payment in a user-friendly way. By going mobile, the courts can help streamline and transform these processes.
In addition to the intrinsic time saving value of being able to manage a case away from the court, a mobile solution has additional potential benefits. The courts could use mobile devices to handle multi-language support as selected by the user to encourage adoption and usage from non-English speakers. Additionally, citizens requesting leniency would know exactly what supporting documents and information must be provided to get a quick decision by the court. Finally, judges will have real-time access to the information required to rule on a leniency or fee reduction request.
The judicial and legal professions are traditional, based on hundreds of years of practice and process. Like other areas of government, the courts have been slower to change and adapt to innovative, disruptive technologies. However, leveraging cloud and mobile technologies would help transform how the courts interact with citizens, much like mobile banking did for their consumers. Doing this will allow the courts to be more agile and responsive with court constituents, improve access to justice, and enhance the efficiency and productivity of our court system.
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