Detroit Free Press – Traffic court goes digital: Start-up fosters settlements

Traffic court is going digital.

Ann Arbor-based start-up Court Innovations has developed a software solution that allows drivers to settle traffic violations by negotiating in a virtual environment instead of showing up to court to fight tickets.

The model, which can also extend to other minor civil infractions, is appealing to courts because it reduces workload and increases fine collection rates. And it’s appealing to offenders who don’t have time to show up in court or simply can’t afford to take off of work.

“It really does save the court a lot of time, and people feel their voice is heard by going this way,” said MJ Cartwright, CEO of Court Innovations, the first spinoff from the University of Michigan Law School.

After about a year of product development and testing, the company has secured three clients: Washtenaw County’s 14A District Court, Bay County’s 74th District Court and Wayne County’s 30th District Court in Highland Park.

But the software service reflects the kind of sensible solution that can alleviate the overburdened judicial system throughout the U.S. In Detroit, for example, the 36th District Court’s inefficient bureaucracy and abysmal fine collection system contributed to the city’s collapse into bankruptcy.

With a system like Court Innovations, which was founded by U-M Law Professor J.J. Prescott and former law student Ben Gubernick, courts can refocus their efforts on critical cases instead of minor issues that bog down the docket.

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