Oxymoron: a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect. Today’s favorite: ‘absolutely unsure’. There was a time when humorous oxymorons could elicit a snort of laughter. I remember when ‘military intelligence’ was once considered a snicker inducing phrase.
I gently offer an oxymoron we would all like to see go away ‘government best practices.’ Should this phrase really be an incongruous contradiction? I was exchanging messages with the CIO of a county in South Carolina last week. I’ve known him for 15 years and I met him when he created a best practice. He implemented systems that enabled access to geospatial documents through his ESRI maps. It was innovative, it was very well done, and it has become a best practice. It also has made the CIO a bit of a celebrity in government IT circles. He has won numerous awards and his solution has been imitated many times.
‘Justice system innovation’ is yet another oxymoron I would like to no longer run into. Innovation thrusts the courts forward, allowing those within the system to offer fair and equitable justice to all. Where would criminal cases be if Alec Jeffreys had not developed the genetic fingerprint and testified in court? Back then in 1986, Jeffreys was considered crazy, but fingerprinting remains a common practice that has helped to solve billions of cases worldwide. Innovators pave the way for better futures.
The point is, innovation in the justice system (and all government agencies and entities) is a powerful thing. I’ve run into many examples of counties or states being hesitant to adopt a new process solely because they had no other data to support them. Counties across the country are benefiting from risks they took as a thought leader. Things like e-filing, digital agenda management, digital evidence management, and electronic bench software are changing how we serve justice. All you need to do to take part in the transformation is take the first step. At the end of the day, someone has to be first. It’s the thought leaders of the world who go down in history for their contributions. Not only will future court personnel thank you, but the community will as well. Do not be afraid to think outside the box and try a “wild and crazy idea.” You never know what might stick!
To all those IT professionals reading this, who wants to innovate? Who wants to deliver better constituent/customer service? Who wants to jump start their career? Most importantly, who wants to make these oxymorons obsolete:
- court aid
- court assistance
- court efficiency
- court initiative
- court organization
- court worker
If you team up with ImageSoft, and deploy our solutions, I’m certain you can do this!
Do We Truly Want to Revert to the Completely In-Person Court?
There are irrefutable benefits to providing in-person hearings for specific, highly vulnerable case types. Showing up to see an assailant receive their sentencing, to emotionally connect with a jury on a high-stakes case, or to see the support of your loved ones and community sitting in the benches behind you are human elements of the court that cannot be lost. There are also more drawn-out proceedings, lasting months, that are too complex and high-volume in attendance to be upheld by the internet.
But for most cases, such as traffic incidents, landlord-tenant disputes, misdemeanors and even divorce mediations, the in-person court does not do the case, citizens or the legal counsel any justice.
Digital Transformations is a Journey: Begin with the End in Mind
For many of us 2020 was a transformative year, both in our personal lives and professional lives. As the world turned upside down, many organizations quickly adapted to meet the needs of their staff, constituents, and customers virtually. For many, future technologies were no longer a roadmap wish list item or a dream, but a critical and immediate need. As the world starts to right itself, it’s crucial to continue preparation on digital solution efforts. Whether it be natural disasters, power outages, fires, floods or hurricanes, unseen situations aren’t going anywhere any time soon.
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Big news often comes from concentrated areas. In an attempt to prevent fraudulent and counterfeit court documents, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon has unveiled new, bipartisan legislation that will require any federal, state, and tribal courts to utilize electronic signature technology. E-Signatures are protected by encryption technology, making it much more difficult for people to get counterfeit documents through the court. The legislation also directs the National Institute for Standards and Technology to set new precedents following suit. Countless reports have uncovered forged documents within the courts. Now that we have access to top-notch electronic signature platforms, it makes sense to transition to a virtual and secure signing option.