In a growing number of counties, court users have a new, convenient way to access court services – and the resource is in the palm of their hands through a free download on the Google Play or Apple App Store.
One of those resources is the mobile app developed and launched in 2018 by the Monterey Superior Court, which enables users to look up case information, search court calendars or make traffic payments. Another feature gives attorneys access to case documents, bail and warrant information and case dispositions.
"The app isn’t a replacement for the website users see on their laptop or desktop computer, but offers convenience and more avenues for access," said Monterey County Court's Chief Information Officer Paras Gupta. "It's less about the app, it's about providing access in ways today's court users are used to."
As of December 2020, the app had over 10,000 downloads, with an uptick during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gupta also emphasized how important it was to his IT team to create code ready for other courts to use or customize to serve their own court users. (View presentation)
Monterey’s app is one of 50 projects seeded through a Judicial Council Court Innovations Grant meant to spur the development of new programs replicable statewide.
If not for the Innovations Grant, we wouldn't have been able to do this project, at this speed. In Monterey, our users are now truly online, instead of in line.
-- Monterey County Judge Marla Anderson
Expansion to Other Courts
Borrowing Monterey's code, the Alameda County Superior Court developed and launched the CACOURT App with additional features like viewing livestreams of court proceedings. Because Alameda's IT staff has already written this feature's code, any court developing an app in the future may offer it to their users.
While the Alameda court was busy customizing its app, the Orange County Superior Court was focused on connecting a mobile app to its self-help portal. The Orange County court also offers a livestream feature for listening to court proceedings.
“It is a fast and convenient way for court users to access self-help services, especially during these challenging times of COVID-19, when we must maintain physical distancing,” Orange County Superior Court Presiding Judge Kirk Nakamura said.
Heather Pettit, the Judicial Council's chief information officer, is optimistic courts will catch on and begin deploying their own apps.
"We know this is how people conduct their day-to-day business, from scheduling summer camps to booking rental cars," she said. "Courts are challenging in-house staff to take this technology and make it available to their court users. The talent is definitely there, and the council is excited to see where this goes."