On Thursday, April 12, 2018, Matterhorn hosted an ODR webinar on Access to Justice. The webinar featured panelists Paul Embley, CIO of the National Center for State Courts, and MJ Cartwright, CEO of Matterhorn.
For all who attended, thank you for your interest. For those who could not attend, and for the reference of those who attended, here are the materials from the webinar.
ODR Webinar Video (slides and speakers)
ODR Webinar Slides
ODR Webinar Transcript
Dunrie Greiling – Host
All right. I’ve got two o’clock. What do you think? Should we get started? Let’s do it. Hello and welcome to our online dispute resolution webinar “Increase Access to Justice with an Online Door to Your Court.” Our speakers today will be Paul Embley who is the Chief Information Officer at the National Center for State Courts; and MJ Cartwright who is the CEO at Matterhorn. I am pleased to say that we have attendees from all over the US and Canada and Europe (and Australia!) on today’s webinar. For those who made time today thank you for your interest and we’ll look forward to hearing your questions and answering them on this webinar today. Then, for anyone who is watching on recording, welcome as well and thank you for your interest, and be in touch with myself or the speakers after to get any questions you have answered.
My name is Dunrie Greiling. I am the Market and Product Strategy Lead at Matterhorn. I’ve been here at Matterhorn in Ann Arbor for about a year. Even in my time here has been gratifying to me to see the increase in enthusiasm and curiosity in online dispute resolution in the justice world. In helping courts and find increased access and find ways to improve their operations online. We have a great session today. We’ll hear from our two speakers and together they’ll provide an overview of the current state of online dispute resolution in use by courts. Draw on results of research by the Joint Technology Committee as well. We’ll introduce that in a moment. But first I’m going to spend a little more time introducing each of our speakers. I’ll also share a little bit about the logistics of this webinar. I think all the attendees are muted, but our speakers are not. You should be able to see them on the side panel there. Then you will have the opportunity to ask questions in the Q and A. We will leave about a third of the time to get your questions answered.
That’s kind of the plan. All right. Our beautiful slide is not showing the beautiful, brand new, gorgeous National Center for State Court website. I’m not sure. Maybe it’s … Yeah. My beautiful art work is gone. The National Center released a new website very recently. It had a beautiful picture from Hawaii on the home page when I took the screen shot. It really made me think that the palm trees and the beauty of Hawaii was in my heart when I took that picture of the website. It is not in front of you all today. I’m sorry about that.
But Paul Embley is the Chief Information Officer at the National Center for State Courts. He has 24 years of experience focused on managing private sector and government IT projects. Prior to joining National Center for State Courts he was a resource to many national and international agencies on standards and information sharing. Since I don’t have the National Center website here to showcase people, Paul would you like to say a few words about your role in the National Center? I realize it’s unscripted but I would appreciate that.
Paul Embley, CIO National Center for State Courts
Well, I certainly could but I’m not one on big introductions. I believe that you figure out what people can contribute pretty soon into the conversation. I would encourage you to go to the new website. We continually try to make it so that you can actually find things on our website. The URL for that is ncsc.org. Like Dunrie said there’s a great picture of a courthouse in Hawaii there.
Yeah. If you need a taste of the tropics you can go to the National Center for State Courts. Our next speaker is MJ Cartwright, the CEO of online dispute resolution company Matterhorn. MJ leads all aspects of Matterhorn. Matterhorn provides meaningful, usable, and fair solutions that expand online and mobile access to our courts for the public. Let the public go to court without going to court in person. Matterhorn is now in 40 courts in eight states and growing. So coming to a state near you. MJ, is there anything else you’d like to say?
MJ Cartwright, CEO Matterhorn by Court Innovations
No. But I look forward to Paul leading us off here shortly.
Fair enough. All right. Our goal for today was that we were going to introduce you two resources from the National Center for State Courts Join Technology Committee. These are the two resources here on the screen. Gain perspectives on whether and when ODR will be right for your court; identify steps and commitment required to implement a court connected ODR program; and get your questions answered. I am going to turn the mc-ing or the mic over to Paul Embley who will start us off on these great resources that are available now.
Thanks, Dunrie. I always love being first because then that means that MJ gets the accordion slot so she gets to figure out how much or how little time she may have. But I do want to emphasize that we do have two resource bulletins out there. One is about case studies that we’ve done in courts. Those courts are not just US based courts but we’ve learned a lot from our international partners about different ways that ODR can be implemented. I would encourage you to take a look at that. The ODR for courts, that’s a bit longer but there is a lot of detail there. If you are considering implementing ODR in your courts, there’s a lot of information there that you’ll want to have at your fingertips and want to be able to review with your staff as you move forward.
I strongly encourage you to look at those. The easiest way I know of to get to them is to go to ncsc.org/jtc for Joint Technology Committee. Then you’ll see a button right there that takes you to all the different bulletins that are available. Next slide. Great. Oh, darn. We are missing a great picture of the Colosseum in Rome. But I love what Justice Earl Johnson Jr had to say. His quote is, “Poor people have access to the American courts in the same sense that the Christians had access to the lions when they were dragged into a Roman arena.”
Now I just love that. Now interestingly enough Justice Johnson retired in 2007. In that 10 years we could replace that very first word, even strike it out, and just say people. It’s people who have moderate or even decent incomes who do not have access to the American courts because of the expense and the time and everything that goes into bringing a case.
Next slide … What happened to the slides? Dunrie! Save us!
Well there’s a great slide here that talks about opportunities for courts. Obviously I can talk about it even without a slide … There’s something that I want to read. It’s from a study that or a paper that the Conference of Chief Justices put together. They were concerned about justice for all or this is called the Civil Justice Initiative. But one of the things that they say about navigating courts is those who enter the system confront a maze like process that costs too much and takes too long.
They also say, “Courts lack any of the user friendly support we rely on in other sectors.” I can guarantee you that nobody would ever think to compare a court service with Amazon service. I know some of you live in areas where you can get even same day delivery. Same day deliver does not happen in our court systems. One of the recommendations from this CCJ report was the court should take all necessary steps to increase convenience to litigants by simplifying the court litigant interface and create on demand court assistance services. One of the reasons why I am so passionate and why I love ODR is because it gives us those opportunities to address some of those concerns that Conference of Chief Justices had. The beauty for me of ODR is that you can increase your service level to the public but at the same time reduce your costs. Virtually everything that we do, you can do one or the other but you can’t do both. ODR definitely has that capability to do both of those. Next slide.
Okay. Oh, sorry. I’m working with two monitors here. I apologize. Dunrie is doing exactly what I’m telling her to do and I’m not doing it. Efficiency. One of the beauties of ODR is that you do not have to rely on other people’s schedules in order to go through the process. ODR can be done anytime. Because it’s an asynchronous process meaning that you don’t have to be int he same place as the defendant or the other party. You don’t have to be in the place as your lawyer. You don’t have to be in the same place as the mediator. Whoever the parties are that are a part of the process. They do not have to be together. ODR solutions allow for that asynchronous communication. Some of the ODR solutions actually allow for asynchronous as well as you can do synchronous. You can do live chat. You can even do video conferencing similar to what we’re doing on today’s video call.
There are a lot of opportunities there to increase the efficiency of the courts. The other thing that is probably even more encouraging to me is that many of our processes … and I’ll use Utah as an example. They took what was a 46 step process and they were able to simplify that down to nine steps. Any time you take something from 46 steps down to nine steps, you are going to increase some efficiency somewhere. Implementing ODR is that wonderful opportunity that we have to look at our processes and say, “Why is it that Ben has to stamp that? Do that particular stamp? Or why is it that Sally has to put a red tab on that?” There’s a lot of opportunities there for us to simplify our processes down to what are those basic steps that need to be down to ensure fairness. To ensure all of the things that we are concerned with in the justice system. Next slide.
Fairness. One of the things that I say and maybe I probably need somebody to correct me. But I don’t believe that technology is a discriminator except against those who don’t have it. But it doesn’t care about race, ethnicity. It doesn’t care about financials. It doesn’t care about so many of the things that sometimes with our [inaudible 00:14:45] biases we get wrapped up in. We know that judges can make different decisions based on whether or not their team won or lost over the weekend, or whether or not their hungry or angry. You know, and so forth. The nice thing is technology doesn’t do that. Now I’m very, very passionate about saying technology will have biases if we program those in. We need to be very, very careful about what information we feed into technology. But technology is at the outset fair because it doesn’t really care about any of those things.
All right. I need to put on my readers to make sure that I hit all the points that I had. The other thing that I think factors into this, which I really love, is that quite often we use the language int he courts or in the legal world that most people are not familiar with. People would not know what prose is. There’s so many different legal terms. The beauty of ODR is it allows people to step back and to … whether that’s call a friend or whether that’s do a Google search or whatever. But they can understand some of these terms that we’re using a lot better. They make better informed decisions when we are presenting them with maybe a potential resolution or whatever. Next slide.
Then enforcement. Obviously the courts are not an enforcement agency. But one of the things that we can do with ODR is that we can do things such as helping people set up payment plans and monitoring that kind of thing with the ODR solution. We haven’t had those opportunities maybe in the past. That allows us to do a better job of maybe having our judgements adhere to. Plus the other thing that we find is that when people are part of that solution, when they help come up or craft that solution on their own. They are much more likely to actually follow through and adhere to that then if it’s just something that they agree to in front of a judge without really understanding what it was that they were agreeing to. Next slide.
Then this is a huge one for me. I was at my parents house visiting with them. My sister came in to town. She would’ve stayed longer but she had jury duty and she could not move it no matter what. She was a willing … well she was a somewhat willing participant in the jury process. But you think about so many of these people where they get a court date set and we don’t really take into account whether or not they’re working. We don’t care what the bus schedules are. We don’t care about whether or not they’re deployed or what happened. Now sure there are continuances. I get that. But for the most part we are not very sensitive to where people live. You know, landlord tenant. You think about that. Well, if they’re living out of state. Is it really fair for us to say you have to be appearing in this court at this time and so forth? Well, this is an opportunity for us to allow people who are working day shifts and can’t afford one more absence otherwise they lose their job. Allows us to take care of those people. Military duty. Just on and on and on. Access is a huge one here. Next slide.
Then our customer satisfaction. One of the things that we have kind of latched onto that we love is what’s called a Net Promotion Score or Net Promoter Score. I don’t know how many of you have participated in it. Please stay online for a one question survey kind of thing. They say, “Would you hire this customer service rep?” Or, “On a scale of one to 10, what would you give?” There’s an opportunity with ODR for us to measure that customers satisfaction. Just a simple question of, “Would you recommend this process to somebody else?” can tell us a lot. “On a scale of one to 10 with 10 being likely to you will definitely recommend.” If you’re getting all nines. Wow, you’ve got a great process going there. But that Net Promoter Score can really, really help tell you a lot. Then there’s obviously other ways of surveying. Getting in there to see how satisfied people are.
One of the things that we have found with the numbers, and you’ll see these in the report is that satisfaction goes up because people are getting timely resolutions. They’re getting resolutions that don’t require not only for them not showing up in a court, but also their financial burden of just parking and gas or transportation. Whatever it is, is minimized plus quite often they can work out details where they feel like the cost was much less to them. That time and money thing that so many people care about are big, big factors in this and lead to much greater satisfaction. With that I’m going to turn it over to MJ so that she can tell us all about great things that are going on.
Thanks, Paul. Appreciate doing this webinar with you and for all the insights that the JTC sponsoring their bulletin has put together. There’s a lot of good information on those two bulletins that Paul mentioned.
As I take you through our solutions I’ll just give you a quick history.
On this next slide we talk about the different solutions that we have really been able to work with the courts on. We’ve been pretty excited about the range of online dispute resolution. When we started with some of the courts here in Michigan, down the road. That it was around some of the traffic violations and resolving outstanding warrants. Failure to comply type warrants where people were scared to go into the court because they had an outstanding warrant that needed to be resolved. As we started working on those cases we also expanded into various misdemeanor cases beyond some of the civil infractions. Then we moved on to adding some of the domestic relation issues that come up when you’re looking to do some of the child support issues. Some of the change orders that occur with parenting time, support time, custody and such. As well as civil cases. This is looking at small claim disputes, tax disputes and things along those lines.
As we started expanding this there’s a common factor that was popping in a lot of the online dispute resolution that we are seeing in an ongoing way is the ability to pay. If you are able to actually work through and resolve the dispute, at the same time can you set up a payment plan? Or at the same time can you see if certain fees or a fine be waived based on the poverty level? There’s various things that one can look at. That’s been a really recent expansion that we are pretty excited about in the things that we’ve been working on. But I’d like to take you through one of these scenarios. I’m going to draw on several pieces as I take you through. You’ll see on this next slide it gets in to the configuration. This is a potential configuration that you can use when you’re working on an online dispute resolution. But it’s a workflow that can be changed.
For example if we’re looking at an online plea. I’ll take you through kind of a few example of online plea because I think it’s a good one to give you flavor on the flexibility on how it can be used across different court cases. But an offender is going to interact with the online dispute system. Sometimes you’ll involve a prosector, city attorney, law enforcement. Sometimes not. That second workflow block may not be there. Sometimes you’re dealing directly with the court. For the online plea stuff I take you through that will clearly be the case. The court has their process and then you are interacting back with the defender. There you can add a loop if you’re going back between the offender and the court on certain aspects with the staff of the court; with the magistrate with the court; with the judge of the court. It really depends on the type of case that’s being resolved and how the court and jurisdiction wants to set up that interaction.
The beauty of this is when you’re setting up an online dispute resolution, you don’t always quite know exactly the process you want in place. As Paul was saying in Utah, they were streamlining their processes. As you’re bringing a technology on you realize you may be able to streamline things you weren’t able to streamline before. You may want to change this. For example we’ve done this with several of our courts. That they realize that they are following a set of rules, really business rules that they want to use in a regular basis and change the workflow or simplify the workflow. We’ll see that across courts as they get more comfortable with the technology and were able to make some of those changes with them as they move forward.
As we look through this first use case that I’ll take you through, is a case where we have someone who needs to resolve their case with the court. They really have moved. They’ve moved out of Michigan. I believe this is a case where Leanne has moved to Alabama. This is a very common occurrence. We’re showing actually people on cellphones because over 50%, I think, it’s almost 60% of our cases now the users are resolving it on a mobile device and cellphone. It’s really important to us as we build out our solutions, we’re always user testing them and know that they are configurable and useful and easy to understand and read on that mobile environment. Let’s take you into the first slide here.
We’re bringing up a screen from Washtenaw Counties 14A District Court. 14A is the first court that we worked with on a pilot. We started off doing some traffic violations with them. Added on an online plea capability. Their first need for online plea was really to make sure that they had a way for those who are incarcerated to actually deal with their cases. When they were out of a jail and out of a prison, that they were able to go about and get re-entry into society in a very succinct way. This was one vehicle for doing that. They recently added on resolving warrants as well. But as we go into an online plea case we’ll bring this up. When the user clicks on that button to go onto online plea, a lot of things happen behind the scenes. I won’t take you through all of those details but we are looking for your case. We are finding your case in the system. We have an integration with the various courts to do that.
We’re also looking to see if you actually qualify to actually do your case online. It’s really important that certain types of cases … you need to know in advance. That may be a case that the court does not want you, as Leanne in this case, to do online. You should really know that up front. It may be the seriousness of the case. You may be a repeat offender that really succeeded the numbers and the limits that they feel are acceptable. Those things are happening behind the scenes. When you actually are qualified to do this online, you as a court can figure out, Okay. How do I want to set this up? I mean, what do I want to say to this person as they’re giving me my information here? What information can we pre-populate based on the integration that’s in place? Or are we going to require Leanne to fill out her information? Those are different variables. How are we going to have her make her case as to why she wants to plea online? Are we going to list some questions for her to fill out? Some smart questions that can be expanded based on what she answers. How does she want to be communicated with?
You’ll see on here also that we have an affirmation statement. This varies across courts on what they want to place there. Do they want something to sign? Do they want just really “I am who I say I am.” It really does vary across the different courts and how we configure the different case types for them. As we look to the next one in this process we can see that she has put in her information. She has submitted it to the court. We let her know that she has successfully submitted it to the court. We can also have the court kick back a notification to let them know via the text that she requested that it’s been submitted. But this is also another way to do that. This is a page that she can go back at any point in time and see where she is with her status that is in progress. This may be a type of case that could be quickly to resolve. But the whole is that you want to make sure that she knows the general time frame to expect and where she is in the process.
We find that this is really important for people. That they end up understanding the process better because ideally they don’t do this everyday. As court staff this is something that you know the ins and outs of. Typically someone coming into the court system for the first time or not a repeat offender infrequently, they’re not going to know how to do this. You can see the information display their own status. You can see that she can always see what she has submitted into the court. Then as we move to the next slide. We end up looking at it from the courts perspective. There’s a lot of different dashboards and a lot of things to look at here. But the whole thing is that you want to be able to look to see as new cases come in. You want to execute on those new cases. Making sure that they’re routed to the right part of your court. We can route those automatically behind the scenes. Sometimes there’s certain decision processes that you have people involved with. You want to make sure that it’s getting to the right people. Depending on how, once again, you configure this.
If you look at the next slide we can see a couple of the screens that display some information for decision making. This court wants to look at these pleas. Some of the pleas can be accepted or rejected based on information that comes in with the initial court magistrate in this case. Somethings will have to be sent to the judge depending on the information that is listed and the type of offense that it is. Now if we go down to the next slide you’ll see additional information. This is an area that we think is pretty important. That you display the information that’s relevant to the case. You have interfaces to the right data set that bring in the right information for evaluation for fairness, and to make sure that if someone does have … If it’s a traffic driving record that really has a lot going on that alarms you. It may have gone through some of the initial filters but there’s somethings on there that really make you hesitate and you want that person to come in. You want to know that information. Here’s a sample where we can see what Leanne has entered. We can scroll down if we wanted to see more on the history.
There’s a data warehouse. This is a case that’s in Michigan. We are linking to the state wide data warehouse for information. We’re also linking to the Secretary of State. This is also the DMV in some states when a driving record needs to be available to view for helping decision making process. If we move forward to the next slide here. Once a decisions made and we send out a notification. We send a notification out to Leanne to let her know. We like to make sure we keep information very short and to the point on the text so that when they can go in. They can view the details of the decision that’s been made or if more information’s required. In some cases we have a log in that’s required. You’ll click on the link and you’ll need to log into your case because it may be an ongoing case associated with a family court case. Which can go on for years when you have child custody cases involved. Otherwise, sometimes, it’s just a simple case but the security of a log in is required.
If we go to the next slide we’re going to be back with Leanne. Leanne’s going to look at this. She’s going to see that the judge has already reviewed her case. It’s come back with … now she needs to complete the plea form. If we go and click on the next slide here. This is instructions for Leanne. She knows what she needs to do. This once again will vary with each individual court. It will vary for the different types of cases you have. It will vary based on some of the orders within your state on what you need to do for an online dispute resolution. This is a case where she needs to plea guilt or not guilty. There’s simple instructions for her here. This is a way in which she would be signing on her mobile device, with her mouse if she’s on a computer in typing in her name and submitting this part of the plea.
If we go to the next slide you’ll see how this would look with the judge signature. The details of the plea that she’s actually admitting guilty to or saying that she’s not going to admit guilt to. It’s very important to make sure all of this is available and that they really know what they’re signing on line. That we know that they’re seeing the right information and that they are following the rules of that state and of that court when it comes to filing this. If you look at the next slide, I think we may have another … Okay. This is the next step for Leanne. All of her stuff has been filled in and submitted. Now it’s sent to the court. She doesn’t have anything to do at this point. She has filled out everything she needs to. This is a court where they wanted to do some processing and making sure everything came back appropriately, before they finalize and response back to Leanne that everything is fine.
If this step was fully automated it would come back immediately and go right to complete that everything is done. That will vary in the workflow depending on how the court is setup, how automated that court is, and how accessible their databases are for us to do that automation and integration. When we look tot he next slide here. You’ll see that it was recorded and that we’ve gotten back to Leanne. She knows that everything’s complete. She is done with this case and she can move forward. She didn’t have to go into court. In this case, she could stay in Alabama and finalize her court case by an online plea in Michigan.
If we move forward. I’ll just spend a little bit of time on some selected outcomes. When we look at the slide it’s kind of busy, but it really hits the key points that Paul was mentioning earlier. This webinar was kind of built on the whole aspect of access. I’ll spend a little bit more time on that. But if we look at efficiencies we do find that courts are vastly improving the efficiencies of how they operate. Not only are they diminishing their number of steps in their processes. But they have now time to do tasks and spend time on other more serious court cases then the ones that really had to go through the online dispute resolution. All the court cases are important, but some really do require more of the courts time. The enforcement, we’ve been able to see some great numbers on increase of collection fees and these fees being collected faster for the cases that are going through online dispute resolution. There’s a lot of reasons for that. Some are touched upon in the papers that Paul was talking about.
Then Paul talked about the fairness. We do measure that. There is a little bit of a correlation that if you did not get a great result in your dispute, you may be a little miffed and not reflect as positively. We do see some correlation there. But as a general rule people clearly feel better about the speed in which they are handled. The knowing where things are in their process. These things are all important when people really translate fairness. There are those who really didn’t get an outcome that they wanted. They still will respond in a positive way to the fairness of things.
Then also the customer satisfaction. I think access and customer satisfaction, there’s a lot that go hand in hand. If we go to the next slide, I’d like to spend a little bit of time on access. Because as we look at access to online dispute resolution in the courts. The one thing that has always been important to us is to make sure that this is another door to your court. It’s an online door to your court. It’s a court that you’re not removing any of the other access points. We’re adding a door. By doing tat we’re increasing it. One of the metrics that is held incredibly steady in our surveys with people using the Matterhorn ODR system is that they have … 39% of that, I mean, in this our end gets bigger and bigger. This number stays really consistent that they would not have been able to appear in court if it wasn’t for an ODR process. We were surprised at first. That number was so high. It’s held pretty steady.
As we look at the next slide. The other number for us is that more and more people are using online dispute resolution. We’re seeing our numbers really start to accelerate month over month as we look at that. We look at the lives that we’re able to touch and the impact we’re able to make as people go through that court process. This is one of our drivers to the person in Court Innovations Matterhorn. That really drives us as a business and drives us in how we would like to work with courts. The thing is that your courts have very satisfied customers as they work with you. Online dispute resolution is an extension of your court. They’re looking as that satisfaction to you guys. We have a couple of quotes that we pulled. We pulled kind of a range that have come in that time away from work is an absolute no go. I mean that’s a really important aspect that we hear repeatedly.
If we look at the next slide we’ll see a couple other quotes. One based on a surgery and medical ability to really keep them from being at court. We hear this all the time whether it’s someones personal medical problem or they’re taking care of someone who has medical problems. The other is that they thought this was going to be … I mean I love this quote. This just came in a couple of months ago. “I was bracing myself for it to be a nightmare. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was easy to navigate.” Of course we’re thinking, “Well, of course it’s not going to be a nightmare.” But these are people who are having to deal with the court system in a way that they don’t normally have to deal with the court system. They’re checking out, we’ll let’s see how it works online.
I think we have one more slide of a few details. No, that was it. We just pulled a sampling. But for us we’re finding that as more and more people and expectations are increasing to work with the court in a more timely manner. That ODR really is starting to be accepted across the country. Dunrie had mentioned we’ve expanded beyond Michigan. Clearly this is our home base. We are in eight states total. This is really something that courts and your customers in courts are not only expecting, but really glomming onto. I think that kind of wraps up my section. Right, Dunrie?
That’s right. Thank you, MJ. Thank you, Paul. For sharing both your expertise and your enthusiasm for online dispute resolution. We do have gotten a few questions already via the Q and A in the webinar software. Please, if you have a question that you would like to ask our panelists. Please jump on the Q and A, and we will address them. I will start with one that we received early on actually. Matthew Sawicki asked at about 14:10, “Is it fair to offer a platform that all litigants may not have the opportunity to use?”
You want me to start with that one?
It’s always an interesting dilemma. This is conversation that we have all the time with our Chief Justices about well, what if everybody can’t use it? One of the things that we remind our Chief Justices about is that this is not a perfect solution. But right now not everybody can access the courts. One of the concerns that we have is that because it’s not 100% solution, because only 95% of the people … Well, let’s be realistic. We know that 85% of the people in the US over the age of 60 or whatever have smart phones. Then it actually increases as the age goes down. When you get down to age 20 and so forth, that percentage is much higher. Let’s take it 85%.
If we have an increase of 39% as MJ pointed out in one of the slides. If we have an increase of 39% of the people who now can access the courts. Should we say, “Well no. That 39% can’t access it because that remaining 15% of 60 and over can’t access it well.” That’s just bad economics no matter what. Now should we be trying to find ways to give that additional 15% access? Absolutely. But the other thing to keep in mind is that ODR is one of many solutions. We don’t all of a sudden start closing down court houses because we have ODR. But we offer ODR as part of the process for people to go through the court.
The other thing that we point out is that ODR should never, ever prevent somebody from starting the ODR process and then say, “You know what? I’m not getting to where I need to so I need to go physically appear in a court.” That should never, ever be removed from the table as an option. We should always have ODR as one of many possible ways into the court.
Yeah. Yeah. Agree with Paul. As I said earlier that we do view it as an additional door. You don’t really want to restrict other access points to the court.
We have another question from Jonathan Rosenthal. He asked … I think this is for MJ. “Do you language test your screens? If so, what grade level?”
Well, yeah. We have found that in some of the tests that we’ve done in focusing on that sixth grade reading level. Even in some courts we have been asked to look and bring that reading level down even further. Those are some of the things that we continuously struggle with, that I think all courts struggle with, when they’re implementing technologies to get it at that right reading level. That you’re getting the information across that you need to. But you’re, at the same time, having them understand it. Yes, that’s a good question.
Dunrie, if I could add real quick. As you read through the ODR papers. One of the things that you’ll find is that is a very strong recommendation that you make sure that you are testing for that readability and what grade level. We even have a recommendation for a grade level in the paper.
Oh, great. Wonderful. We’ve had questions about whether the slides will be available. Yes, they will. I will make sure you have that information. Then if you have questions after this, of course, we will share our contact information and followup with you directly.
Other questions include from Susan Anderson. “What is the feedback using this for small claims and civil cases?”
We have a lot of feedback from our users. Those who go through the process. The plaintiffs and defendants as well as the courts. It’s a range of feedback, but clearly the satisfaction stuff is pretty high on this. It matches some of the numbers that I briefly went through as we were going through this. We could actually send you some of the summary that we get of specific feedback from the small claims. Because I don’t have it in front of me but we have some really good ones in there that I think are informative on how people are using it. Loved to follow through with you on specifics with that.
Let me ask one from John Gustafson. “What do you think the biggest advantages are for the judge?”
That’s a great question. One of the big advantages to the judge is that they have people who have participated in a process where they’ve come to a mutual decision. Or at least a decision that they can rely on or they can live with. Having the judge be able to approval those kinds of agreements really is helpful for the judge. Plus the fact that because the participants were more actively engaged with one another. It’s interesting that the US courts were built on confrontation. We really make it that way, you know? Where quite often people walk out of the in person process very angry. With ODR it just seems to remove some of that confrontation.
I know this session wasn’t about some of the work that we’re doing in the family arena. But we’re finding that parents who are getting divorced who use an ODR solution come up with better outcomes for their kids. They actually walk away with a mutual respect for each other instead of hating each other. There’s just a lot of tension that is removed. So judges are able to not have to continually fight with that kind of thing. Plus the judges too, once again, they are part of an asynchronous process. They’re schedule isn’t impacted by some of this because they can take time in their chambers or whatever and be able to go through some of this stuff in a timely manner. Versus having to bring out all the parties together and continually get these continuances because not everybody can be there and so forth.
We’re hearing similar things across the board, Paul, on that as well. Actually in family court the judges love the fact that they have seen big reductions in their show cause hearings because issues are being resolved when it comes, for example, child support payments. Really working on the system and not having those cases come into court. I know that one of our family courts, I think, it’s about 50% reduction. The judges really like the fact that they can spend time on some of their other cases and not have to deal with those cases.
The other thing in addition to what you said, Paul, that comes to mind is when … is an audit trail, right? Clearly there’s information that goes on in the dispute that’s not viewed by the court. Nor should it be viewed by the court. But the court knows that they’ve gone through a process and both parties have either come to a resolution or tried to come to a resolution. As opposed to just coming and telling the judge, “Oh yeah. Yeah, we talked.” When in fact they may not have done that. There’s some audit trail there that is really important in these cases.
We have lots of great questions coming in. We might not get to all of them but I commit that we’ll get back to those of them who are not asked anonymously. We will be able to answer your question by email afterwards. I’m going to take the opportunity to pull at least one anonymous question forward so that person gets their question answered. “Is this a cost effective tool for small courts?” I’m going to keep going. “In reference to budget constraints. We are in a city of only about 8,000 population. How many small courts utilize this tool?”
I’m thinking across the courts that we are in, in multiple states. Having just launched in an incredibly small court. I don’t know … it could be of similar size. For them there’s two cost factors that drove their decision. One is looking at their cost per case. Handling it online versus not online was dramatically reduced. They could keep their staff costs down. The other is that they … just on the efficiency side of things. The other, the mere fact that they can bring in and do their collections faster. They really saw that there was kind of a collection side, in addition to those efficiency side of things. I don’t know. you may have some more thoughts, Paul, in other instances you’ve seen. But for small courts we find that both sides of the equation come into play in efficiency and effectiveness, and bringing in the dollars faster.
The only thing I would add real quickly is, that I participate in a committee that’s made up of a bunch of court personnel. We were talking about ODR. Somebody said, “But what is the cost?” There was a collective gasp when the one person there told what the cost was for her particular state. She gave that number and they just couldn’t believe it. I believe that this is cost effective. The nice thing is that most of the vendors, including Matterhorn, have built their models based on a scalable model. It’s not one of those where, “Oh, you’re going to pay 10 million dollars whether you’re 8,000 or whether you’re 20 million,” kind of things.
Brandon Howard asked, “Are there examples of circuit court civil cases resolving through ODR?”
The circuit court cases we have done to date are in family court. The family court happens to sit in circuit court. There are some we’re in the process of setting up but we have not run them through the system yet. It’s the family court cases where you’re looking at child support and child support orders. Those are the ones that we’ve run through to date and have data on. The ones that we’re setting up now, in the next couple of months we’ll start to have data on more circuit court cases.
I’m thinking we’re going to need to close soon. I don’t know, MJ and Paul, if you can see the questions and pick one last question to answer, or if you’d like me to choose. But I’d like to make sure we get at least one more answered and then we’ll be closing very soon for three o’clock.
I’m afraid that my chat box stopped at the biggest advantages for the judge-
Maybe people are just sending it to you.
There’s a Q and A mechanism. But I can keep going. I don’t want to waste any time. Patrick McGrath-
Yeah. There’s one where there’s, “How many case types or situations?” I mean for us, for Matterhorn, we started off with dealing with traffic violations that are civil infractions and misdemeanors. Those have been the biggest ones for us. But we’re seeing a huge growth in the small claims right now. We’re seeing a huge growth of our transactions in some of the more serious misdemeanors. Some are traffic, some are non traffic. I went through online plea. Online plea is increasing rapidly as well. This is for not only misdemeanors but even some felony cases. We are seeing really across the board these types of cases increase.
Then second half of Patrick’s question was, “Do you recommend that they start in the easiest case type?”
Well, there’s a couple of drivers where we like people to start, is where’s your volume and where is your court most comfortable starting? Sometimes it’s the easier cases, but sometimes it’s just where you have that volume and what’s the issue with your court and your community. I think we only have a few minutes left. I don’t know if you want to wrap up.
Yeah. We do. I want to thank everyone for staying to this point in the webinar. I appreciate your attention and your interest on the topic. I want to thank our speakers. Paul Embley taking time from DC, Virginia area. Then MJ Cartwright here in Michigan. To share enthusiasm and passion for ODR. We will get back to those unanswered questions just after the webinar. I want to make sure that if you are interested you are aware that we will do this webinar idea again with a very different topic.
We’re going to be covering Ability to Pay on May 22, 2:00PM Eastern. The panelists will be J.J. Prescott University of Michigan School of Law Professor and Judge Alexis Krot from the 31st District Court here in Hamtramck, Michigan. Looking at Ability to Pay online.
We will post the slides and the recording, and probably some Q and A we didn’t get to so everybody gets to hear those questions and those answers. In text form anyway. I will do that on GetMatterhorn.com. I believe Zoom is going to send you a followup email as well confirming. Look out for communications from us. You can always go to our website. Thank you, Paul. I really appreciate hearing from you.
Thanks, Paul. Thanks, Dunrie.
Yeah. Thanks everybody for your attention today on this important topic. Thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
Okay. Bye. Have a good day.
See you next time!
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