SJI promotes and supports innovative technology projects that will improve court processes and procedures, including technology projects that: streamline case filing and management processes, thereby reducing time and costs to litigants and the courts; provide online access to courts to litigants so that disputes can be resolved more efficiently; make structural changes to court services that enable them to evolve into an online environment.
Implementing National Open Court Data Standards in Pilot Courts
The National Open Court Data Standards (NODS) were developed by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) and are endorsed by the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) and the National Association of Court Managers (NACM). The purpose of the NODS is to facilitate the consistency and sharing of state court data by standardizing logical and technical data standards. NCSC will work with states and courts to help them assess their needs, develop strategic plans for NODS adoption, help courts map their data to the standards and then create programs that enable consistent extracts. NCSC will also provide assistance to courts in developing data governance policies relative to data standards, data quality, and data sharing. NCSC will apply the knowledge gained from this process to create implementation case studies, improve the leadership and user guides to NODS, and create a NODS guide for users of court data.
Medical Debt Online Dispute Resolution
Medical debt is a national crisis confronting patients, health care providers, insurers, and guarantors of payment for medical services. The Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) is developing an online platform to resolve medical debt disputes starting in Hamilton County, Tennessee, and ultimately expanding to similar programs statewide. The goal of the project is to create an easy-to-understand application of how technology, legal assistance, meditation, and judicial resources as needed can provide a model for pre-court filing resolution services. The project will serve as a pilot for online dispute resolutions across the state in many areas of legal claims, in addition to medical debt.
Prefiling Landlord/Tenant Online Dispute Resolution
The Iowa Judicial Branch is implementing a prefiling landlord-tenant online dispute resolution (ODR) pilot in Story County, Iowa, to increase access to justice and effectively triage cases for residents involved in the rental housing market. In addition to the ODR platform, a Housing Coordinator will be hired to develop an inventory of community resources and housing assistance programs and provide legal information. The National Center for State Courts will provide support to the project and prepare a case study documenting lessons learned and make it available to other courts interested in Online Dispute Resolution in Landlord/Tenant cases.
Justice Court Access Program
Justice Courts are the “People’s Courts” of Mississippi, handling small claims civil and misdemeanor criminal cases. The goals of the Justice Court Access Program (JCAP) are to establish best practices for Justice Court procedures in emergency situations like a pandemic, provide self-help resources for self-represented litigants in Justice Court, and create a virtual navigator program to assist Justice Court litigants throughout the state. The Mississippi Center for Justice will:
- Assess how Justice Courts transitioned to virtual court through surveys of all 82 Justice Courts in Mississippi;
- Compile the survey results and recommend uniform policies and procedures, along with standardized forms for self-represented litigants;
- Create resources for the court and self-represented litigants, including a training video for judges and court staff and self-help videos for self-represented litigants;
- Develop an online virtual court navigator; and
- Provide court and public awareness for the new resources
Evaluation of Two Statewide Virtual Mediation Services Administered through Local Dispute Resolution Centers and E-Learning Faculty Development Model
The Michigan Supreme Court and State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) will evaluate two statewide virtual mediation services administered through local dispute resolution centers; and develop, pilot, and institutionalize an e-Learning Faculty Development Model.
The SCAO/Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR) provides two statewide virtual mediation programs, which are administered through Local Dispute Resolution Centers. The services include: 1) the MI-Resolve online platform; and 2) online Zoom mediation. Both programs manage court referrals of small claims, landlord/tenant (including eviction), and general civil cases, and are administered through a statewide network of 17 Community Dispute Resolution Program (CDRP) centers. The evaluation will empirically demonstrate the effectiveness and national replicability of these two mediation programs.
The project will also enable the Michigan Judicial Institute (MJI) to identify court personnel to serve as volunteer faculty for peer judicial education sessions delivered through virtual platforms. The “train-the-trainer” curriculum will be structured as a virtual workshop, and introduce the core components of active learning using interactive lectures. This will include model learner engagement activities, and teaching workshop participants on how to use virtual conference platform tools to create their own virtual sessions.
New Hampshire Courts Website Redesign
The New Hampshire Judicial Branch (NHJB) has outlined the critical need of web development, restructuring, and redesigning of the New Hampshire Judicial Branch website. The NHJB’s court website has emerged as the single most important vehicle for public communication and education, as the courts effectively connect with more than 1.3 million New Hampshire residents. With the pandemic placing additional pressure on remote courthouse access, this project comes at a particularly critical junction in the court evolution. The NHJB expects to have a fully developed and launched court website that will provide far greater access to and satisfaction with court resources for self-represented litigants, attorneys and the legal community, educators, and the media.