The US Justice System was developed to serve justice to the people, for the people. We all have a right to a fair trial, and thousands of court cases take place every day across the country. As with any industry, however, the Justice System is not perfect. Some of the most common complaints involve the length of time it takes to complete a trial, as well as how difficult it can be to submit all the necessary documents. For those outside of the field, it may be hard to understand why processes are so tedious and lengthy. Once you look inside, you find busy offices that are lacking in the type of technology needed to manage a load so large. Luckily, there are many digital solutions available to courts that were created to solve specific challenges within the industry. Today, we’d like to discuss some court-centric solutions that aim to streamline Justice System processes and make day-to-day tasks easier, more efficient, and more secure.
First on the list is electronic filing, otherwise known as eFiling. Electronic filing is the alternative to storing hard-copy documents in filing cabinets and binders around the office. Court documents can be filed electronically, helping courts go paperless and ensuring that they do not misplace, damage, or otherwise alter a file. Clerks and admins can file from anywhere, submitting a digital copy directly to the courts in real-time. Those responsible for filing said papers can view them online, sort them by document type, case, importance, etc., and approve or deny them. E-Filing offers filers and courts 24/7 access to important documents and safeguards them behind several layers of data protection. Turnaround is much faster than with the traditional process, so proceedings can begin in a timely manner.
- Take eFiling to the next level by integrating it with other systems and applications. Compatible with some of the most popular business apps to help you reach your paperless potential
- Missing or damaged documents
- Travel delays
- Mailing delays
- Unsecure storage
- Limited access to documents
The Justice System also benefits greatly from an electronic/digital signature solution. Electronic signing was made legal by the E Sign Act of 2000, and TrueSign can be used for documents that must comply with regulations including HIPPA and CJIS. If it’s officially accepted, why are so many courthouses still doing a large percentage of their duties with physical documents? As the name implies, electronic signature products allow you to request and collect signatures electronically. A large percentage of courthouse duties involve contracts, approvals, acknowledgments, and other signatures. E-Signatures allow proceeding to move along swiftly, as there is no need to worry about getting a physical document to all parties. Gone are the days of mailing or delivering files, instead replaced by an email, text, or QR request through TrueSign, our proprietary eSignature technology. There is unlimited access from nearly any device, and your smartphone can be transformed into a signature pad with just a few taps. TrueSign now features digital certification, authorizing and validating all signatures, linking them back to IP addresses, and encrypting them for safekeeping.
- Travel delays
- Mail delays
- Limited access to documents
- Slow turnaround
- Unsecure signing and document storage
- Compliance issues
While not useful for only the Justice System, digital workflows are an excellent tool within courthouses and prosecutor/attorney offices. Workflows are created to assist with tedious and repetitive tasks. This could include adding meetings to agendas, sending notification emails, logging data, tracking progress, and more. Most importantly, digital workflows help to improve communication between and across departments. When one hand knows what the other is doing, tasks can be completed much more efficiently and effectively. Digital workflows allow employees to stop spending valuable time on mundane duties or tracking documents down. Staff is free to assist with more pressing issues, and complex technology ensures top-quality safety and accuracy.
- Communication breakdown within departments
- Communication breakdown between departments
- Inefficient methods of completing repetitive tasks
- Human error caused by a lack of interest or attention in a task
- Missed or forgotten duties due to staff-related problems
Online Dispute Resolution
Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is the future of mediation and arbitration. Typically, a settlement can take an average of 16 months from start to finish. That means that for over a year, clients must pay legal fees and deal with the stress of their case. ODR is an alternative route that is proven to shorten the process significantly. Rather than attending sessions in-person, clients meet via online video conference. This allows all parties to meet from somewhere that is convenient, safe, and comfortable for them. The virtual experience helps to keep tensions low and encourages more honest and open discussion. Fees are often significantly less, making professional mediation more accessible to those of all income levels. Resolve Disputes Online, our partner in ODR, even offers AI Mediation. The platform takes a look at the case information and offers a settlement amount. Negotiations can occur in-platform, until all parties are content with the outcome. The platform even guides users through the process, taking legal jargon and breaking it down into understandable tips and tricks.
- Lengthy mediation cases
- Tension caused by reuniting opposing parties
- High legal fees caused by a drawn-out process
- Inaccessibility to lower-income people
- Confusion about the mediation process
- Travel/scheduling delays
Electronic Bench Platform
Judges have their hands full when it comes to cases. Not only are there hundreds of cases or more at a time, but each has mountains of documents, evidence, testimony, and notes. With so much to manage, it’s easy to see why Judges can be overwhelmed on the bench. Electronic Bench technology helps to condense the mountain of papers into a far less intimidating digital file. While on the bench, the Judge has access to all digital files including documents and exhibits as well as notes they left themselves the last time they looked over the case. aiSMARTBENCH by Mentis Technology offers a 360-degree view of the judge’s load for the day, week, and month. An agenda or docket can be added to help the Judge remain organized, and various apps can be integrated, including existing case management systems. With aiSMARTBENCH, each judge can customize their view to best suit their individual work style. They can create tabs, filters, files, and more to help stay organized even with a heavy caseload.
- Integrate TrueSign for real-time digital signatures for a nearly completely paperless process!
- Disorganized paperwork
- Uncertain agenda
- Tedious searching for files
- Divided attention between various resource folders
- Delays caused by signature requirements
Digital Evidence Management
The last court solution to discuss is Digital Evidence Management (DEM). As we adapt to a more modern and tech-savvy world, so too must the Justice System. It’s becoming increasingly common to see videos, audio recordings, social media screenshots, cell phone dumps, and other virtual files being submitted and accepted as evidence. Per the traditional methods, managing these various formats can be next to impossible. Digital Evidence Management compiles all exhibits onto a single platform that can be accessed 24/7 from just about anywhere. Uploading is simple for all parties, organizing exhibits is a breeze, and reviewing files can be done without having to hunt for X, Y, and Z player/device. Digital Evidence Management even allows you to view scanned documents to avoid needing any hard copies. It’s much more secure than storing evidence in cardboard boxes, and it allows all parties equal access to the files needed to build a case.
- Cluttered and disorganized evidence storage
- Delays caused by having to share a single piece of evidence
- Needing multiple devices to review and playback various formats
- Long process of submitting evidence and awaiting admittance
- Limited access to important documents
- Security and chain of custody issues
As you can see, there are many digital solutions that are designed with the Justice System in mind. Legacy processes have their place, but if courts wish to stay efficient and modern, it’s time to adopt new solutions. Each of the above solutions benefit many of the personnel throughout the courts including clerks, attorneys, prosecutors, and judges. Through digital transformation, the US Justice System will see enormous growth in its ability to serve the public. If you’re interested in learning more about any of the solutions mentioned here, please visit https://imagesoftinc.com/courts/.