This summary of traffic ticket online resultion is one of several case studies of what courts with Matterhorn traffic ticket and minor infraction resolution have achieved. For a study of six courts, see Ticket and Minor Infraction Resolution Outcomes—Six Courts.
29th District Court, City of Wayne, Michigan
Do More, With Less
Matterhorn gave us the ability to do more with less. The platform freed up our docket and gave us more time to process online cases and alleviate workload in certain areas. As opposed to dealing with citizens on the spot, our staff was able to work through online requests during time when the court was less busy.
—Linda Gable 29th District
The Court Sought to Make Justice More Convenient
The City of Wayne, Michigan, home to about 17,500 people, is located in Southeastern Michigan. The 29th District Court is a small, single-judge court whose leadership is known for engagement and involvement with the Wayne community.
The goal for court leadership has been to increase the court’s flexibility: to make justice more convenient and accessible for Wayne residents and maintain an exceedingly high level of customer service. As in other communities, many residents struggle with required in-person court legal proceedings and finding child care and arranging leave from work.
At the Same Time, Budgets Were Tight
Meanwhile, the court’s budget is tight and staff are already stretched thin, with no budget for increased headcount.
A pressing challenge faced by the court was the recent reduction of court personnel combined with overtime from their traffic officers. Court leadership knew that this would further strain the court’s depleted resources, as citizens who wish to contest their tickets at a pre-informal hearing must be scheduled and added to the court’s docket.
In this age of Internet technology, court leadership knew that there must be a cost-effective way to simplify many of the court’s legal proceedings without having to hire additional staff resources. They did not have to look far to find an answer–in nearby Highland Park, Michigan, the 30th District Court had been successfully utilizing Court Innovations’ Matterhorn platform. Impressed by the results, they were eager to offer this convenient, web-based solution to Wayne’s public.
The Court Selected Online Dispute Resolution
Historically, ticket-holders in Wayne have had three options for ticket resolution:
- Pay the fine and have points added to their license.
- Deny responsibility and have a hearing before the judge. If found responsible, face the same consequences as in #1.
- Schedule a hearing to discuss possible reduction or elimination of points.
Linda Gable, 29th District Court Administrator, said citizens typically pursue the third option, hoping to avoid having points added to their license. Before Matterhorn, the third option was a time-consuming, resource-intensive process that involved scheduling and attending a pre-informal hearing during court hours. That might mean the case would not be heard for weeks.
Now, with the online system, citizens can request a review online, rather than schedule an in-person hearing. This allows the work to be spread throughout the day and reduces strain on their staff. Whether the ticket holder chooses the online route or the on-site route, the case outcome will be the same, as the court’s decision is most often based on prior driving record.
The 29th District Court team took several steps to promote citizen engagement with the platform:
- An initial press release in the local newspaper
- URLs printed on tickets
- Online options highlighted on the court’s website
- Information provided by court staff to citizens that phone in about ticket resolution
At the beginning of the launch, the court saw slow but steady numbers. But as citizens gained familiarity with the system and the number of citations grew in Wayne, the online system began to double its growth each month.
“Citizens were very excited about the convenience factor of the new system,” says Gable. “Not having to schedule a date with the court during business hours was a relief to many citizens who had difficulty taking time off of work or arranging transportation to the court.”
Gable also discovered that citizens were recommending the online option to fellow residents on a discussion group for the City of Wayne community Facebook page. Once the word got out, the court was seeing nearly 200 online requests monthly.
Traffic Ticket Online Resolution Results
With Matterhorn, the percentage of in-person informal hearings decreased Year over Year (YOY):
- 30% between 2015 and 2016
- another 37% between 2016 and 2017.
The court was able to offer increased capacity without adding personnel - in fact, strain on staff was reduced.
The court is happy with the results of the Matterhorn system in their community.
Not only is the court able to handle a heavier workload with the same staff, it’s also able to maintain excellent customer satisfaction. The court is saving time and resources while managing its dockets more efficiently, and, in the spirit of the court’s goals, it has been able to cost-effectively expand access, flexibility, and convenience for the citizens of Wayne.
What is Matterhorn?
Matterhorn is online dispute resolution.
Matterhorn gives the public their “day in court” from their own device and from anywhere. This access allows people to stay at home, at school, and at work.
Judges, magistrates, and court staff remain involved, yet spend less on these activities. Matterhorn allows courts to offer 24/7 service without 24/7 staff. It allows the police to stay on patrol. It increases customer satisfaction.
Matterhorn integrates with many CMS and payment systems. It is software-as-a-service.
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