Three years ago, NAPCO published a reference guide on the current and potential use of remote technology for adjudication processes and court operations. The guide’s purpose is to help court leaders improve access to justice, reduce litigation costs, and decrease trial court delay where geographic distance from the courthouse by litigants, lawyers, witnesses, and the public may present impediments. “The report continues to be quite useful based on reports from presiding judges and court executives I’ve encountered over the years,” reported Gordon Griller, NAPCO’s Executive Director and a court management consultant with the National Center for State Courts. “References to the guide,” he noted, “pop up in a wide variety of places.”
Courts Today, a bi-monthly publication of Criminal Justice Media, referenced the NAPCO guide in it’s June/July 2019 magazine lead article on “Remote Appearances: Technological advancement in video conferencing, and the companies behind it.” The summer edition of the magazine is devoted to this year’s Court Technology Conference (CTC 2019) which will be held in New Orleans in September.
The guide’s author, Mike Bridenback, former executive officer at Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit in Tampa, reports that video conferencing to conduct court proceedings is only one dimension of remote technology use by courts. Other applications include the transmission, use and filing of electronic records, victim/witness testimony, simultaneous language translation, assistance to self-represented litigants, trial preparation by video conferencing (i.e. depositions, interviews), text/email messaging to litigating parties, remote fines and fees payment, digital court records transmission, and the execution of warrants and court orders. “If courts are not doing some of these things,” Griller remarked, “they’re behind the times.”
Interest in NAPCO’s remote tech guide has spread beyond U.S. courts to other parts of the world as well. Recently NAPCO and the State Justice Institute, which funded the guide’s development, approved a request to permit the guide to be published in China. Dong Ding, a Chinese graduate student in the LL.M. program at Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas, will translate it into Standard Mandarin, the official dialect of China spoken by 71 percent of country’s 1.4 billion people as their primary language. Download the English-language version (PDF).