Could Your Court Go Entirely Virtual?
As the pandemic drove courts of all sizes into the digital age, “virtual court” became a buzzword for court personnel and community members alike. For many, virtual court has become synonymous with remote hearings, but from where we’re sitting, virtual court is so much more.
We work with courts across the country every day, and we see online court services move from a nice-to-have to a true necessity for many communities. Gone are the patch-something-together-let’s-make-this-work days of the early pandemic. Now, courts are investing in the right technology to create greater access and safety for their communities and in the future.
They’re redefining virtual court, and remote hearings are just the beginning.
Virtual Court Explained
A true virtual court could operate entirely online. Beyond remote hearings, here’s what forward-thinking courts are offering online to make their services available anytime, from anywhere:
- Pre-case help (chatbots and litigant portals)
- Electronic filing (with pro se support)
- Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) and Mediation
- Remote/video appearances (whether with the court, a mediator, a probation officer, etc.)
- Electronic reminders and instructions (what’s expected, due, upcoming, etc.)
- Continuing online case access and interaction (subsequent files, payments, etc.)
- Court-ordered obligations – performance and reporting (whether financial, community supervision, etc.)
Six Considerations Before Offering Online Services
Additionally, courts implementing online services should always keep justice-involved individuals at the forefront of their planning. Consider:
- Can community members access help and expertise without walking into your court building?
- Are all required forms accessible online, and is there a way for individuals to get help filling them out?
- Is there a secure way for individuals to share information and/or documents with the court?
- Can payments be made easily, quickly, and securely in a way that both the individual and the court can track?
- Can justice-involved individuals access materials and updates related to their own case(s)?
- Are all of the court’s services accessible from any internet-enabled device? Are there options for people without their own device and/or internet connection?
As your court considers what to bring online and how to do it, talk to our team of experts about what we’re seeing work for courts like yours. We were helping courts go virtual for years – well before the pandemic began – and we’ll be here supporting our court partners for years to come. Give us a call today.