At CourtReference, we’re always alert for advances in court technology. We don’t just mean finding court records; CourtReference has provided links to online court record resources, other court-related resources, and court websites for many years. We’re talking about interaction with the court by actual parties to the case.
Gone are the days when every interaction with the court took place in person. Payment of court fines online was one of the first methods of conducting court business electronically, and now it’s the most common; we covered it here, here, and here.
Once it became so easy to admit your guilt and pay your fine online, it was only a matter of time before some courts allowed you to fight your fine online; we covered an example of that here. Further expansion of online and e-mail options in Washington (arguably the high-tech capital of the world) included not only parking ticket cases, but also traffic tickets, other minor infractions, deferral and mitigation requests, anti-harassment orders, and even small claims case filing.
Filing of court papers by attorneys has been possible for years, but some courts now allow – some even require – electronic filing by parties without an attorney. We examined e-filing of court papers here and here.
Parties’ court appearances by telephone have been allowed by some courts in some cases for several years. But telephones are so “2000” – now some courts allow video appearances. What could be next, after telephonic and video appearances? Hmmm … could it be SKYPE? Of course it could, at least if your appearance is in Missoula Municipal Court (click the “Preparing for Court” link on that website) in Montana, and your offense doesn’t potentially involve jail time. Skype appearances are also permitted in some juvenile dependency hearings in California’s Santa Clara Superior Court. That same court is about to also start permitting Skype hearings in some family law mediation proceedings.