3 Courts Modernize Technology
June 22, 2020 by
Improving efficiency in courts means moving beyond manual, paper-based processes by implementing modern technology. Three exemplar courts won 2020 Tyler Excellence Awards for doing just that in ways that are easily scalable and replicable in courts across the country.
- Wicomico County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, Salisbury, Maryland
Like many courts, the Wicomico County Circuit Court relied on mail or in-person attorney pick-up to disseminate case documents. To increase service and efficiency, the court implemented an e-service solution to distribute court-generated documents electronically. Just the second court in Maryland to implement e-service, it has seen significant success.
“Our service to the public has improved because parties now receive their documents much more quickly and in a well-documented manner,” said James “Bo” McAllister, clerk of the circuit court. For example, the system notes when service was made, what was served, and even when it was accessed by the receiving party. What’s more, envelopes and filings for expunged cases are automatically removed from the system.
Because the cost of paper, printing, and postage for every document is now eliminated, county expenses have been reduced. Savings are also evident in newfound staff time. Employees complete service in just a few clicks, allowing the team to reallocate time to projects with more strategic importance.
- Tarrant County Justice of the Peace Court, Precinct 1, Texas, Fort Worth, Texas
The Tarrant County Justice of the Peace Court, Precinct 1, also developed a paperless process that increased efficiency and increased access to justice for the public through e-filing. In 2017, justice court 1 went live with a paperless process for eviction suits. For these case types, clerks no longer needed to retain any paper documents or create folders. From this early success, the court sought to roll out a paperless process across all case types.
With a new e-filing system, the public can view their cases, print documents, and complete any filings online. In fact, all pro se litigants and attorneys are now required to file their cases electronically. Not only does this streamline processes and eliminate paper, it provides the public and attorneys with increased access, convenience, and flexibility in conducting court business.
Along with providing e-filing to the public, Tarrant County implemented a hearings calendar function to manage all case types electronically. Clerks can run reports and pull up cases and scheduling for hearings, jury trials, non-jury trials, pretrial mediation, and more.
- Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara
The Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, struggled with paper-driven and antiquated case management systems. The custom systems were not only outdated, but they were also not integrated, leading to manual processes that strained already limited resources.
To unify case management operations and automate transactions, the superior court implemented a new technology solution that facilitates public access. Constituent self-service and new efficiencies have reduced case backlogs with no staff increases, particularly in critical areas of children and family. With one modern platform, the county was able to consolidate and reduce case management expenses while also meeting compliance requirements.
A clear accounting of activity with every case through an integrated system further supports data-driven decision-making about performance, processes, and priorities. “All of this has increased our ability to make informed, data-driven decisions leading to higher productivity through better utilization of resources,” said Rebecca Fleming, chief executive officer of the court.
When courts adopt modern technology, the ROI is great. The courts above saved money and time while increasing access to justice for their constituents through e-filing and self-service opportunities. In addition, modern tech solutions facilitate data analysis and reporting for more informed decision-making, while also reducing backlogs without increasing staff.
Explore other 2020 Tyler Excellence Award Winners in Courts & Justice for more inspiring innovation.