Is the future of courts in the Metaverse?
Likely yes, but we need to take some baby steps. First let's get the courts to have websites made in this century.
The Supreme Court of Ohio announced on January 10th, to the deafening cheers of thousands of attorneys across the Buckeye State, that it will be accepting technology grant applications for courts to upgrade their tech. A long time coming, this grant will help alleviate the frustrations of lawyers and constituents having to deal with archaic technology from over 20 years ago. At times filing online entails 45+ minutes of loading, reloading, questioning your life choices, and loading an old website struggling to perform even the most menial of functions.
Applications for 2022 will be accepted until Feb 16th, with grants awarded in May. The grant will be available to any county, municipal, appeals, and common pleas courts.
Since the pandemic has pivoted court into the online space, this funding was necessary for many courts to operate online. It enables remote-access technology, hearings, staff meetings and other court business to go virtual. Much more needs to be done, but this is a good start.
Is this Grant necessary? Yes. Here are some current technological challenges in various Ohio courts.
There are still courts in Ohio that require physical carbon paper for court filings.
Many courts do not have an electronic filing option.
There is no universal e-filing system throughout Ohio. Meaning each court, if it even has an online option, has its own system for categorizing various filings.
If there's a problem with a physical filing, many courts will send the filing back via snail mail, instead of just using email or online messaging systems readily available to them. This incurs additional costs, and wastes valuable time.
Shockingly some local courts have been fully shut down since the beginning of the Pandemic. After reaching out online a multitude of times and not hearing back, one of our attorneys went to visit a local court, and was turned away by a Police Officer who informed them that the court had been closed since the pandemic began.
According to Courtnewsohio.gov “Grants for 2022 can be used to buy new, or to upgrade systems, hardware, or equipment for projects, such as:
Technology systems that support pretrial services or digital notifications
Online payment systems for court costs and fines
Case management systems or technology that supports a court’s fundamental duties
Courtroom or building security equipment.”
While some courts in Ohio have failed to adopt modern processes, many courts have admirably mobilized online quickly and efficiently. We appreciate those courts who have mastered virtual technology, and proceeded with full court functions in an just and orderly fashion.
Above you can see the significant increase in tech funding to courts since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020. This graph is provided from courtnewsohio.gov