During the COVID-19 Pandemic, many courts across the United States had to close their doors to the public, a difficult decision. The Superior Court of California – San Joaquin courthouse was closed to the public from March 2020 to July. During that closure, the public had minimal outlets to ask questions, ask for payment plans, or contest tickets. The court launched an online traffic case platform, powered by Matterhorn and built on Amazon Web Services (AWS), in October 2020. This platform let people contest and resolve their traffic cases safely and remotely.
How the Online Traffic Court Platform
The court’s online platform allows people to contest citations, upload files, and schedule or even reschedule a hearing. The court may dismiss a case or offer a reduced charge and fine, as appropriate. Then, people can accept the offer and pay online, immediately.
The court uses the platform to triage cases, and depending on the details of the case, it may be handled by a clerk or can be escalated to a judicial officer. Law enforcement provides their Officer’s Statement via the platform. Once an offer has been made to the member of the public and accepted, the platform generates a Minute Order (final judgment) summarizing and recording the outcome.
Immediate Impact of Offering Online Access to the Court
The court launched its online traffic case resolution program in October 2020 (site), and it provided immediate impact to the court and the public during a difficult time. They came to court online to reschedule court dates, request a reduced fine/charge, or start a payment plan. To date, the average number of cases resolved on the platform is close to 600/month.
Public Response to Online Traffic Court (Surveys)
“it saved me from calling in sick or [needing to] use my vacation time”End-user feedback (survey) September, 2021
“I was surprise[d how] fast and convenient it was to use the website.”End-user feedback (survey) September, 2021
The public gives the system high marks. Most post-case survey respondents said that the system was easy to use (>80%), their case was resolved in a timely manner (75%), that they understood the status (75%), and that their case was handled fairly (92%). Over 75% would recommend the system to others.
Benefits to the Court
- Court processes continued and funds paid even with the physical court closed
- Software as a service (SaaS) platform with minimal investment outside of defining and working the process (no capital investment, no operational costs with respect to system maintenance)
- A comprehensive and secure web dashboard to triage incoming requests and actions
- Provide sub-offers on a citation with multiple infractions
- Escalate cases within the court depending on case types and evidence provided
- Communicate with the public in a standard and templated manner
- Push any updates to the case or hearing dates automatically
Benefits to the Public
- Access to the court via their personal device using a web application at their convenience, including, if needed, court trials via Zoom
- Avoid travel time and parking fees
- Request review on a citation with multiple infractions in one go
- Ability to contest traffic citations and upload proof for correctable infractions, and reschedule court dates
- Communicate with the court on missing information
- Receive updates in real-time
- One stop to accept an offer and pay their infraction online
“The San Joaquin Superior Court continued its work and provided access during a difficult time. This is important for the people in San Joaquin and our team to further expand access to justice. Our partners at Amazon Web Services ensured Matterhorn scaled effortlessly to handle the Court’s needs.”MJ Cartwright, Matterhorn CEO