My wife and I just wrapped up a Zoom with some friends of ours that we hadn’t talked to in, what seemed like, forever. Despite such socially distant times, I’d argue that our world has become more connected than ever before.
I can’t help but laugh at myself because the technology to connect with friends and family has existed all along – we just never leveraged it until Zooms and FaceTimes became the primary way for people to connect. Suddenly, we’re not only Zooming our parents, siblings, kids and all the familiar faces, but people we haven’t made a point to connect with in far too long. In many ways, this has been the push so many of us needed to reach out to one another and re-establish relationships.
For the justice community, being thrown into this digital interconnectivity has been just as pivotal. The best way I can illustrate this is sharing my friend’s story. My friend, who happens to be a Judge, was overseeing a virtual court with a man who was trying to clear up some minor infractions. In the background, the Judge could see the litigant’s home was a mess – clothes and boxes everywhere without any sense of order in sight. A humanizing experience for both the litigant and the Judge, they went on to have a personable conversation, and the Judge compassionately encouraged him to start on a better path by picking up his place. I’ve also heard stories on the flipside, where Judges are taking virtual hearings from make-shift offices at home with dogs and children in the background and maybe a few things out of place. It reminds the nervous citizen that Judges are people too.
Just as we have been reminded about how easy it is to connect with distant loved ones, the courts have also been held accountable for increasing access to justice and truly connecting with people who need their help. With their hearings only a click away (rather than a drive and possibly some babysitting money), so many citizens have been able to resolve their legal matters. And, seeing their circumstances, the court is more understanding of why physically getting to a courthouse is not always realistic.
Of course, not all cases can be resolved online but, after seeing positive responses from both the court and the public, I’m thrilled to see progress finally being made in developing a more interconnected, accessible justice community.
Just as the courts have been called to pursue digital solutions, court tech has been challenged with rising to the occasion. Sure, the technology has always been there but, with a heavier reliance on end-to-end systems, solutions need to be as robust and secure as ever. To ensure your court is investing in the most optimal solutions for each step in the process, I encourage you to follow the NCSC-recommended component model approach. Design an individualized blueprint that, instead of marrying one vendor for every need, supports the best-in-class feature for every step. If you’d like to learn more about the component model and how we’re using it, I recommend listening to our recently recorded, two-part podcast with Kevin Bowling, Chair of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Global Advisory Committee.
Throughout this newsletter, you’ll also see that my team has been in encouraged talks about online dispute resolution, and how we can best contribute to every court’s need for sustainable, mobile solutions. I’m extremely proud of my product development team who just launched an enhanced version of our electronic signature solution TrueSign, which is hosted in the highly secure Microsoft Azure Cloud, and is compatible with mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. As always, they’re listening to the evolving challenges of courts and the community, and are constantly evolving strategies to fill the accessibility gap. If you have recommendations, we’d love to hear them!
As always, it’s an honor to connect with you! Stay safe, enjoy this last bit of Summer, and we’ll talk soon.
More Than Electronic Signatures: Capabilities “Beyond the Dotted Line”
You know what electronic signing is, but our developers have been focused on what, historically, it’s not.
Join us on September 9th for a live demonstration of TrueSign, the Microsoft Azure Cloud-hosted, mobile-friendly, CJIS-compliant digital signature solution finally taking the eSignature process beyond just a dotted line.
A History of (Online) Dispute Resolution
Throughout human history, access to justice has been uneven.
Our earliest legal codes reflected attempts to provide a way for the King to define rights and penalties for proscribed behavior. In one of the earliest surviving Saxon historic documents, Aethelberht, one of the Saxon Kings of Kent, defined penalties (generally, financial penalties) as a means of providing justice for specific wrongs. The purpose for the codes included the extension of the King’s justice to as many of the King’s subjects through deputies standing in for the king. It is not hard to understand why this became necessary — the king could not possibly sit in Court and administer justice in-person for every dispute. (The Laws of Aethelberht, The Chronicle of the Dark Ages, Edited by Richard Barber, 2008).
Revived by the Component Model: The Heart of Court Administration – Part 1
“Somebody wiser than me once said that you should ‘never waste a good crisis,’ and it seems like this pandemic has been a crisis for many of us in the court world.”
For 42 years and counting, Kevin Bowling has been serving the needs of justice administration and public service. Currently chairing the U.S. Department of Justice’s Global Advisory Committee, Kevin is now calling on his experience with the evolution of the court system to support next steps for the post-pandemic court. Speaking right into the heart of court administration, Kevin unearths all the relevant fruits of the component model, especially its role in sustaining a more inter-connected court and providing the opportunity to “plug-and-play” with various technologies that support the court’s adaption to a new normal, including litigant portals, jury management systems, and how to walk the fine line between access to justice and CJIS compliance.
ODR: A Platform for The Court and The People
Online Dispute Resolution, or ODR, has been on the court’s docket for quite some time. The concept follows that, to make justice more accessible, litigants can clear up minor disputes online and remotely work with meditators to determine a solution that will be agreeable with the courts.
As with most amendments to traditional court processes, ODR has been hemmed and hawed over for years with no true progress. But as the pandemic has forced Judges, clerks, attorneys and the overall court community to understand and adapt to the available technology, the more everyone is pleasantly surprised by the results.
Not only does it free litigants from the worries of missing work, commuting to the courthouse, parking, finding babysitters, etc., but ODR is championing the justice community’s mission and encouraging individuals to be more accountable. With 24-7 access to the ODR portal, the ability to communicate with affiliated parties outside of normal court hours, intuitive, secure file sharing with the click of a button and online payment portals, ODR is giving individuals control over their legal matters and more opportunities to move forward.
To understand more about how ODR is helping the courts and the public, enjoy this quick read courtesy of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC).
What Can We Do For You?
ImageSoft guides courts through the various challenges of becoming a paperless court. Our industry-leading solutions offer a component model methodology to automated workflows, improved speed and efficiency, reduced costs and proper compliance.
ImageSoft is ready to help your court system reap the benefits from digital transformation.