The move to virtual hearings at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic not only helped protect public health; it also increased participation in court proceedings. Technological advancements affect every industry and organization. As new digital technologies arise, they present new, more effective ways to get things done, and the court system is no exception.
Here are some of the important ways technology is changing the way courts operate.
Video call technology has been around for a while, but it's become a lot more prevalent in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic transformed many businesses, including the court system. For a lot of people, the only way to work and remain safe in the pandemic was to work remotely. This dramatically increased the use of video calls.
Court hearings were able to continue using the same technology. Virtual courts made it possible for trials to go ahead with various parties in remote locations. This avoided the need for everyone to sit in the same room for hours, which was a major health and safety concern throughout the pandemic. While some individuals weren't keen on the idea, it was the only viable solution. Now that they exist, we are seeing that virtual courts may still be suitable for certain cases, and they are becoming more widely accepted over time.
Electronic Filing Systems
Court records must be kept organized and filed correctly. When court administrators need to find information for judges, magistrates, and lawyers, they need to be able to find the right paperwork without delay. Electronic filing systems can make this much easier. Documents can be filed and retrieved more efficiently, and there is no need to maintain a physical location where growing piles of documents take up space. Digital records can be made accessible from remote locations, which can be essential for virtual court cases. Additionally, digital files are more secure, and they reduce paper waste.
Another major advantage of digital records is enhanced accuracy. Human error is a constant risk with traditional filing systems, and mistakes in this kind of environment can cause major issues. An filing system minimizes the chance of errors and helps keep everything in order.
Court administrators will still need to retain personnel to ensure everything is properly scanned and filed in the digital system, and perhaps also to assist people who have challenges using the technology to convert any paper documents into digital files. The time saved finding and sharing records, however, will heavily outweigh the time needed for these tasks.
In the past, if a member of the public wanted information on a court case, they would have to either go to the courthouse or call the clerk's office. When they do, they still might not be able to find the information they want. Online portals can allow members of the public to access the details of court cases online and more easily find accurate information from the convenience of their computer or smartphone.
The Future of Technology in the Court System
People are often resistant to change, as was clear at the start of the pandemic. Many people were reluctant to welcome new technologies that were introduced to the court system, but their benefits quickly became clear. As we move forward, it's likely that many of these new technologies will continue to be used, leading to greater efficiency, reduced error rates, and other positive changes in the court system.
Orion serves the courts with its CourtNotify subpoena management technology. This cloud-based software is configurable, integrates easily with multiple types of case management platforms, and is securely hosted within Orion's Azure Microsoft Government infrastructure.
For more insight on how software can support public service agencies, browse our blog.