Under the Mask, Virtual Courts Aren’t So Scary
I saw a meme the other day that said, “I’m already over Halloween. I’ve been wearing a mask and eating candy for months now!”
Doesn’t that just about sum up 2020? We’ve been living out the premise of Halloween since March. Coming up on November, the irony is scary and, as illustrated by the circulating meme, also a bit humorous.
Thinking more about this mask concept, I couldn’t help but draw another parallel: while people have been masking up, virtual court operations have been widely unmasked. When the pandemic forced courts across the country into Zoom trials, digitally routed case files and electronically signed warrants, the virtual court phenomenon was unmasked and, quite frankly, debunked – not only was going paperless not as scary as prior conversations had conjured it up to be, but it was, in fact, helpful and more efficient.
Under the mask of preconceived notions about how time-intensive, expensive and intimidating digitally transformed courts can be, there was no villain. Truthfully, virtual court operations were a blessing in disguise all along.
Probably for the first time, everyone had access to justice from their laptop, smartphone or tablet. Hand-in-hand with mobility were digital workflows, which have proven to be the long-missing catalyst for faster case turnaround – and I’m not just talking about operations. Capabilities, such as electronic signatures, have equipped the Judges and Court personnel with unparalleled freedom. No longer chained to their chambers, Judges, Clerks, Prosecutors and even Plaintiffs and Defendants can review and sign their documents from anywhere – a necessity in today’s remote society where, at any given time, you could be shopping for your kid’s Halloween costume, grabbing your turkey on sale at the grocery store, video-chatting a teacher, or participating in any other on-the-go activity.
For the Courts, befriending digital operations has completely shifted what “the court” actually is – no longer a place, but a process. Access to justice no longer means taking a day off work and cutting into your budget for transportation and childcare costs – it means managing your legal matters in a timely fashion that accommodates everyone’s schedule.
Perhaps the best example of this is seen in our online dispute resolution (ODR) platform. A neutral environment that eliminates the often confusing and intimidating barriers of being in court, facing your offender, or making abrupt, emotional statements, ODR meets people where they are and keeps case participants on track with their to-do’s, such as payment deadlines, paperwork that needs to be signed, or agreements that need to be made – all which can be completed and submitted with the click of a button. Hosted in the highly secure Microsoft Azure Cloud, our platform also facilitates secure, instantaneous document exchange and instant messaging with mediators and arbitrators.
No tricks and all treats, ODR has truly been revolutionary for Courts and their communities. If you find your court processes unprepared for the abrupt arrival of virtual-everything, feel free to call us.
Cheers to a Happy Halloween!
The Maze That’s Haunting Communities
And we’re not talking corn. Navigating the confusing, complex justice system can oftentimes feel like you’re stuck in a “court” maze, being haunted by legal matters that, for accessibility reasons, you just can’t wrap-up. But instead of being startled by snarling monsters at every turn, today’s constituents are more likely to find human elements.
Courts Today swiftly outlines about how courts are addressing these barriers, committing to more commonsense language, and offering online resolution tools to reverse the curse of limited access to justice.
The Candy Bowl Approach to Digital Transformation
Piece by piece, the candy slowly dwindles. You vow to only have one piece a day, but that quickly turns into one piece an hour (especially working from home!). Multiply that by however many people are in your house, and that’s the rate at which your stash is being eaten through – literally!
What if, instead, we could apply this concept to digital transformation? If we saw the results in cost and time savings, customer satisfaction and more robust processes instead of our waistlines?
That sounds like a much better plan to me.
What Scares You?
In addition to the year 2020, there’s always been one frightful constant lurking about: paper-based processes. Yikes!
We’re rewinding to the very first episode of The Paperless Productivity Podcast, which also happens to be a Halloween episode. In it, we discuss nightmares-brought-to-life, such as years of court records being completely wiped out in fires or natural disasters, and the dreadful costs of recovery. With the pandemic ushering in a world of virtual court processes, this episode puts the nail in the coffin about the benefits of ghosting your paper practices.
The Trick to a “PayDay” Treat is Preparation
Well, it’s more like a “pay off,” but who isn’t thinking about indulging in a PayDay this weekend?
These leading jurisdictions definitely are after being recognized in the 18th Annual Digital Counties Survey for being ahead of the COVID-19 curve with prior investments in digital transformation. As reported by this GovTech Article, “Prior to COVID-19, this year’s winners all had projects in play that turned out to be game-changers when the pandemic struck.”
First place counties can be found from coast-to-coast and have been making long-time, hard-hitting efforts in increasing citizen and staff accessibility with advancements in remote-collaboration tools, electronic signatures, workforce-mobility capabilities and more – all investments that paid off when the world went remote.
Some projects even extended their digital capabilities to uplifting their community amidst the pandemic, like Arlington County, VA., who partnered with Comcast to ensure every child on the reduced or free lunch program had access to broadband, and is supporting more telehealth visits by ensuring a fiber-optic network connects the county’s hospitals to free medical clinics.
Enjoy the short stories of each first-place winner here – you may even find yourself drawing from their inspiring efforts to develop your own innovative preparedness plan. What a treat!
What Can We Do For You?
ImageSoft guides courts through the various challenges of becoming a paperless court. Our industry-leading solutions offer a component model methodology to automated workflows, improved speed and efficiency, reduced costs and proper compliance.
ImageSoft is ready to help your court system reap the benefits from digital transformation.