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The Judicial Innovation Fellowship (JIF) is an initiative incubated at the Justice Lab at Georgetown Law Center’s Institute for Technology Law and Policy. The JIF is a year-long fellowship for technologists, designers, and user testers to transform justice across state, local, territorial, and tribal courts. It is an exciting new opportunity for technologists, product people, and designers to use their talents for justice. Partnering with state, local, territorial, and tribal courts, fellows will have the opportunity to work inside courts to improve how people access justice. Courts gain a unique opportunity to improve operations and equity by receiving a Judicial Innovation Fellow.
The Hamilton County General Sessions Court Judicial Innovation Fellowship and Kansas Judicial Branch Judicial Innovation Fellowship SRL e-filing Initiative projects are the featured SJI Grantee Spotlight for March 2024.
In February, the Judicial Innovation Fellowship presented at the Legal Services Corporation’s Innovations in Technology Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was an opportunity for forward thinking justice advocates to learn about the program and how JIF Fellows improve court technology and culture.
For example, Kat Albrecht, who works with the Hamilton County General Sessions Court in Tennessee, spoke about how shadowing different court staff helped her uncover persistent issues in the court’s data system. In an early discovery, she learned that criminal dockets printed in a hard-to-read font size, which caused headaches for clerks, judges, and litigants. Kat’s discovery has been relayed to other departments in county government, who are looking at potential long-term solutions to improve data operations within the criminal justice system.
On panel, they also were joined by Verenice Ramirez and her court partner, Jonathan Mark of the Utah State Courts’ Self-Help Center. Jonathan explained that Verenice, who is a designer, provides an otherwise missing point of view at the court. Having her on staff helped his team adopt project management software and new processes, like using Kanban boards to track project progress. This is something the department had wanted to do for some time, and having Verenice in the office lowered the learning curve, making adoption attainable. Similarly, they heard from Emily Lippolis that her work with the Kansas Courts has helped teach court partners about website design, which assists them in making more informed decisions when developing online portals for court patrons.
“Our fellows are not only bringing much needed design and data expertise to courts, they areTanina Rostain, Georgetown Law Professor and JIF Co-Founder and Faculty Director
winning over the hearts and minds of our court partners, which is a key element for the
sustainability of their particular projects and for the success of JIF in the long term.”
In all three instances, the fellows demonstrated that their impact extends beyond their individual projects to how their partner courts operate.
With information flowing in both directions during the conference, the fellows were also able to connect with fellow travelers from other states and learn more about the access to justice gap and justice technology. Collectively, the panel and the trip were a great success.
Now back in their respective courts, the fellows are starting the second half of their fellowship. In the coming months, they will synthesize recommendations for feedback and refinement.
August 1, 2022
King County, Washington, was ground zero for the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. The Washington State Supreme Court suspended most court operations in all courts on March 18, 2020. Acknowledging access to justice is of critical importance, King County Superior Court (KCSC) leadership vowed to continue to hold matters on all …
July 1, 2022
Juvenile court judges are the most important public figures in the juvenile justice system–their decisions impact whether hundreds of thousands of youth each year become court involved and for how long, whether they are involuntarily removed from their homes and communities, and the services they receive. Despite the importance of these judges, states and locales …
June 1, 2022
Each county in Mississippi contains its own Justice Court where community members bring legal actions to settle local, small-dollar disputes. Court regulations and policies vary in each county, and they can be incredibly confusing for Mississippians to navigate, almost all of which are pro se litigants. The COVID-19 pandemic created more variation as judges and …
May 2, 2022
Participating in the judicial system can be traumatic and stressful. Mediation is a tool used for resolving many judicial matters, thus mediators often encounter disputants experiencing the worst time of their lives. With this in mind, Texas Dispute Resolution System™ (TDRS) began a process to enhance their mediators’ skills and knowledge when engaging disputants during …
April 1, 2022
The State Justice Institute awarded a key grant to the District of Columbia Courts’ Office of Court Interpreting Services to launch the Courts’ Interpreter Registry and the first-ever Amharic Court Interpreter Certification Examination. These initiatives demonstrate the Courts’ commitment to increase access for Limited English Proficient (LEP) and deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals to the judicial …
March 1, 2022
In November 2020, the Family Center of the Conciliation Court (FCCC) within the Arizona Superior Court in Pima County, was awarded a Pandemic Response and Recovery grant from the State Justice Institute (SJI) to implement the Court’s vision of converting what was an employee-led, in-person parent education course to an on-demand, online, and self-paced e-Learning …