December 1, 2021
The growth of the internet has enabled everyone to do almost any task online. From a smart device, anyone can do homework, research, pay bills, answer surveys, order dinner, and even have conversations or play games with friends across the country in real-time over video. It is no wonder that court users are asking to handle some court-related issues online too.
Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is a public-facing digital space in which parties can convene to resolve their dispute or case. There are eight lessons that state courts should consider when implementing ODR. In short, courts must identify the problem they are trying to address. ODR is best integrated with court case management platforms. Frequent communication with stakeholders helps to guarantee the success of an ODR program. Also, courts should be flexible about rules and practices. The primary focus should be the user's experience and efficiency.
The National Center for State Courts’ May 2021 report “An Evaluation and Performance Measurement Framework for Online Dispute Resolution Programs: Assessing Improvements in Access to Justice” details the most common ODR case types: "noncriminal traffic, small claims, consumer debt collection, landlord/tenant, child support modifications and enforcement, and simplified divorce and related child custody and visitation disputes.”
Since ODR is online, it can save time, is more convenient, and more accessible to litigants who have issues with transportation, daycare, or other access to justice barriers. One example is simple traffic violations, which can be especially helpful for those residents living outside that state.
Connecticut’s ODR system for traffic violations is the Online Ticket Review Program. To participate, users access the website and enter their ticket number. It permits users to plead not guilty and as a result, a prosecutor reviews the facts surrounding the case. Users need to submit a narrative, documents, and pictures as required. When the prosecutor reviews the case, users receive notification of the offer and next steps. Other programs include those in:
- Clayton County (Georgia) State Court
- Superior Court of California, County of San Joaquin
- Acworth (Georgia) Municipal Court’s Virtual Court Room
Does your court have an ODR system for traffic violations as well or use for other case types not mentioned? Share your experiences with us at Knowledge@ncsc.org or call 800-616-6164. Follow the National Center for State Courts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Vimeo.