Paperless Municipal Courts

September 02, 2021 by Lily Rexing

Paperless Municipal Courts

It’s easy to become used to legacy systems, but paper usage and inefficiencies add up over time. The City of Victoria Municipal Court in Texas had been using a “paper lite” case management system since 2001. While the system had a case flow management process and electronic abilities, it did not keep up with evolving technology. The court knew it was time for a change.

Prior to the pandemic, the court strategically implemented a new comprehensive technology system and electronic processes to manage court cases, maintain court records, ensure the integrity of case filings, and enable efficient case flow. To optimize public service, the court also instituted electronic imaging, online and phone payments, text messaging and phone notifications, digital jury summons management, and online public records access for the public.

All of these functionalities were in place when the coronavirus pandemic struck which enabled the court to successfully continue operations. “The COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted organizations throughout the country,” said Tiffany Totah, Victoria’s municipal court administrator. “Because of the solutions we had in place, the City of Victoria Municipal Court was able to continue providing access to justice for the citizens served within its jurisdiction.”

During pandemic closures when buildings were closed, citizens in Victoria were still able to pay fines through the online payment portal and access relevant status updates on their cases through the online records search, also useful for bonding companies and attorneys. Electronic case management allowed the municipal court judge to process documentation electronically using a secure fingerprint solution. Court staff were able to send electronic documents to citizens and upload information received from other departments directly into the case management software.

Thanks to these innovative ways to increase access justice, the court was well-poised to continue serving the public while keeping staff and citizens safe during the pandemic. For this foresight and scalable innovation, the court won a 2021 Tyler Excellence Award.

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