Courts Disrupted

Last month in Las Vegas, court professionals and technology providers converged for eCourts 2016. To see videos from the conference please visit the eCourts website.

There were a lot of great presentations, but one in particular sums up the rapidly changing pace of technology in the courts – Courts Disrupted. For more than a decade, court filings continued to grow year after year, but have recently began to decline and are down 20% from historic highs. They don’t know all the reason why, but the business is going away. They do know the public views the courts as too slow, too costly, and inconvenient. Almost 75% of people polled think courts manage technology incompetently.

There is a huge disconnect between the public and courts.  Several initiatives are currently underway to help bridge that divide, and the joint technology committee is working on a white paper that will be published in the coming months.

The first initiative studied contemporary civil caseloads at 10 large urban courts. They found what the court viewed as the primary challenges didn’t match reality.  Judges and lawyers indicated torts were the biggest issue but upon review it was determined they only accounted for 7% of the entire case load; and contracts and small claims represented the largest number of cases.  Since all cases don’t require the same amount of effort, Differentiated Case Management is one solution.  The National Center for State Courts is working on predictions to determine what cases most often require the court to intervene.  Using technology, such as OCR, to capture key information and flag cases requiring attention can help move cases forward. Making litigant portals more convenient is another major goal.  Ultimately, the group identified 120 business rules they thought could be automated at the front end of the process instead of being handled manually downstream as they are today.

The Stanford Design School took the finding from the first group and created a visual workflow of the tasks in the lifecycle of a case.  The Case Management Visualization Tool is available on the NCSC’s website and allows you to customize for your court’s workflow. Orange boxes indicate where they believe there is a technology alternative.

The second initiative Stanford is working on with Google and Microsoft is to create an ontology that will convert legal verbiage to terms users type into search engines, or social media, to make it easier for people to get the answers they want when confronted with a legal issue.  Whether it is information about paying a traffic ticket, filing of divorce, etc. – the goal is to add tags to the courts website that will take people directly to the appropriate court jurisdiction for forms, fees or other frequently requested information.  Eventually they would like to be able to directly display results in Google instead of redirecting to the court website.

If you are interested in learning how the Extract Systems Platform can help to disrupt your court by automatically capturing key information earlier in the case lifecycle, please contact me at or 608-821-6534.

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About the Author: Troy Burke

With 30 years of experience providing clients with stellar service and strategic solutions for growth and development, Troy is committed to ensuring his customers receive the highest quality solution, training and support with every implementation. He frequently speaks on the topic of redaction and is actively involved with National Association of Court Management, Property Records Industry Association and several other government organizations.