In these uncertain times, courts are having to make budget cuts. The necessity to cut costs requires a close ongoing assessment of both routine as well as incidental expenses. Many court procedures and expenses are under scrutiny; efficiency is valued as never before. In determining what can be cut from a budget and what absolutely must remain – many courts are in a quandary. After all, courts do have a mission to provide impartial justice to all citizens and to render that justice with transparency. Protocols are in place to guarantee that integrity is not breached and to provide necessary and stringent accountability. Procedures have been instituted to safeguard access and openness. These cannot be changed on a whim or simply for financial expediency.
While the core mission of the courts to dispense fair and equal justice cannot be compromised and is foremost, there are other factors to be considered when cutting expenses. The burden of cutting costs should not be shifted to the public without careful and serious consideration.
Longer lines for Justice
A wary public has already been burdened with cuts to services that many consider crucial. State and municipal courts are leaning on tax payers with cautious yet tangible cuts in hours of service. Now, legal issues that took weeks to address can take months. There are longer lines and shorter tempers. Staff have been reduced from full-time to part-time or even laid off altogether. These changes can be frustrating and time consuming. With the public already fatigued by service cuts, courts must look for other ways to create savings.
Unified Communications Provides New Solutions
Technology has an answer. New innovations in Unified Communications have opened the possibility for courts to save money while providing a new service. This is because courts around the country are discovering the convenience and simple ingenuity of virtual appearances.
Technology is circumventing distance, enabling people to appear in court without being physically present, using applications that enable video appearances or telephone conferences. A person sitting in a jail cell can now “appear” in a courtroom many miles away. An individual who cannot travel because of disability or cost, can now “travel” instantaneously and be able to make their case in a court of law. This type of technological intervention is just one of a series of innovations that make courts more efficient and cost effective, however it is a major one and is becoming increasingly popular as courts all over the country discover the simplicity and convenience of virtual appearances.
V-Court for Virtual Appearances
Here at ATI Connect, we provide innovative solutions for justice that connect people with courts. Our V-Court solution will enable the public to register for a V-Court virtual appearance using our web interface. The Case Management System works with V-Court seamlessly to provide the appearance information. Reminders can be set by the public user as needed, by text or email or both — as preferred. Attorneys are given the option to register for multiple virtual court appearances in a single session online. Court staff can manage the virtual appearances with the case number through our V-Court Operator Console. V-Court can be deployed by any division of the court, or phased in by division.
V-Court also can be deployed on premise or hosted in the cloud.