The court system in the United States is undergoing dramatic changes as part of an effort to cut costs, reduce face-to-face contact and provide more efficient services.
To help explain those changes and outline ways to spur courthouse modernization, Advanced Kiosks is producing a series looking at the challenges of courthouse modernization and how implementing self-service kiosks can help address those challenges.
As discussed in Part 2 of our Courthouse Modernization series, the ability to e-file legal documents promises to provide increased access to the courts for average citizens, but it does present some challenges. Not everyone has access to a computer and/or Internet access at home, and the jargon contained in many of those documents can be difficult for non-lawyers to understand. It’s unlikely that courthouse staff will assist in filling out and submitting those documents.
The result, then, will be the opposite of what court systems intended when implementing e-filing. Once again, the legal system will be available for those with the knowledge to fill out those forms, or the resources to pay for assistance.
E-filing is just the first step in improving access. Courthouses need to provide an efficient, easy-to-understand, on-site way for people to e-file documents and handle other basic legal tasks.
Simplifying the process
One way courthouses are improving services and increasing access is through the implementation of self-service kiosks.
With self-service kiosks, residents can conduct courthouse business on their own time. Kiosks automate paperwork-related functions, freeing up court workers to tackle more complicated issues. The kiosk interface can be programmed to walk users through the form fill process with easy-to-understand instructions, with an option to deliver those instructions in a variety of languages if needed.
An ADA-compliant document kiosk, for example, can perform a variety of courthouse-related tasks, including:
- Marriage licensing
- Payment of government fines and fees
- Document printing and scanner
- Notary services
- And more
The customer-facing software used for courthouse services can also provide additional features such as scanning, printing, information access, wayfinding, and more.
A success story
The Prince William County court system in Virginia serves more than 470,000 residents, many of whom face a challenge common to many citizens across the United States: lack of convenient access to government services. Prince William County residents regularly needed to take an entire day off work to complete essential government business during limited business hours.
Recognizing the need to make these services accessible for everyone, court officials in the community turned to Advanced Kiosks to find a solution that allows citizens to handle their business on their time.
“In our community, we have one courthouse centrally located in the county,” said Clerk of Court Jacqueline Smith. “Still, for people who live on one side or the other, if they don’t have reliable transportation, it takes them up to 3.5 hours to get here by bus.”
With Office Extension 2.0, residents can access essential court services outside of court office hours at times convenient for them. The kiosks are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and accessible in both the courts and the local public library. For longer interactions, courthouses have the option of deploying the Office Extension Desk, allowing users to sit comfortably while filing their documents.
“Long-term, the kiosks are going to allow everyone in the population to exercise their fundamental rights,” Smith said. “I don’t think there’s any greater thing that any piece of technology could do for us right now than to allow people to access those systems without any burden.”
Up next in the Court Modernization Series: Part 4 – On-Demand Interpretation Services
Advanced Kiosks has for nearly 20 years been a leader in developing self-service solutions for many areas where we conduct business, and courthouses are no exception.
Our products make it easy for citizens to check in to appointments with probation officers, file legal documents, apply for permits and perform a host of other court-related functions.
Contact us today to see how we can assist in your courthouse modernization efforts.