The pandemic isn’t over, but fortunately, the panic of rushing to move operations online for the first time is behind us. Now that we’re well past panic mode, it’s time to think about what’s the right way for courts to operate remotely, not just what’s the most available or immediate way to go remote.
If you could design your ideal virtual court, what would it include? When we consider the virtual courts that are truly making a difference in communities across the country, we’re seeing a few things they have in common:
They’re modeling “justice for all.” Going online doesn’t solve all your access problems, and even when the court is remote, it’s not always accessible. When community members don’t have personal internet access, the right technology, or are facing other barriers, an online court still isn’t accessible. Some courts are thinking creatively about kiosks and other public access points to make justice truly accessible for all.
They’re working inside and out. Courts with successful remote programs aren’t just moving public-facing court interactions online, they’re also beefing up their internal case management capabilities. When internal teams can collaborate online, see information updates in real-time, and personalize their online work experience with dashboards and layouts, everyone can work more efficiently.
They’re still innovating. The time for innovation wasn’t just at the beginning of nationwide lockdowns; it continues every day. We love the virtual assistant launched by Montgomery County in Ohio1, the Justice Buses in Minnesota2, the virtual front counter in Massachusetts3, and so many other creative solutions we’re seeing nationwide.
They’re thinking big picture. Remote court isn’t synonymous with virtual hearings; bringing the court online means so much more than that. Moving a few functions online can be a good thing, but remote court is at its most effective when the entire experience—both for justice-involved individuals and for court participants—is thoughtful and strategic. Virtual hearings, online dispute resolution, eServices… the full list of what makes up a remote court is seemingly endless.
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