Yesterday I was in Richmond to participate in a focus group to help the Virginia courts system run better through IT (it’s good to see governments using information technology to help their citizens–I’m for limited government, not Luddite government). Virginia recently created a commission to look 10-15 years into the future and make recommendations that will position the Supreme Court of Virginia to address upcoming challenges. And as I learned, Virginia’s judicial system can certainly benefit from IT solutions.
Most judges, court clerks and lawyers that I have known place a good deal of emphasis on the integrity of the judicial system and view our courts to be almost sacred institutions. This mentality means that change can come slowly, even if it is for the better–and courts have ample opportunity to incorporate technology into their operations.
In particular, videoconferencing has HUGE possibilities for quick face time in front of a judge, mostly related to routine stuff like determinations of indigency in criminal cases or pre-trial scheduling and discovery. Anything that minimizes the need for attorneys and their clients to appear in court reduces costs all the way around–to clients, lawyers that have to travel to different courthouses, and taxpayers that fund courthouse operations and salaries to bailiffs, court reporters, sheriffs that transport prisoners, etc.
From my perspective, the judiciary is an untapped opportunity for IT-minded entrepreneurs. Perhaps there’s a company already out there that will improve the filing of court forms in a similar way that TurboTax and Quicken did for electronic tax filings?