What if your day in court didn’t have to be in court?
That’s the idea that led Michigan Law Professor J.J. Prescott and Ben Gubernick, ’11, his former student, to invent a first-of-its-kind technology that helps people who have been charged with minor offenses interact with courts online, at any time of day, without needing to hire an attorney.
The software provides a way for litigants with issues ranging from unpaid fines to minor criminal or civil infractions, including traffic tickets, to communicate directly with judges and prosecutors to find mutually agreeable ways to resolve their cases.
“When you look at how many cases courts process, you realize online interaction and resolution is the next frontier. Courts have so much potential to influence people’s lives for the better,” Prescott says.
“The challenge is removing barriers to access while making the most of judicial and prosecutorial wisdom and experience. We wanted to make sure the software wouldn’t interfere with everything good that courts are already doing.”
Many people’s jobs don’t give them the flexibility to go to court during regular business hours, Prescott points out. And appearing in court for a minor infraction is time-consuming for judges, prosecutors, and the person charged with an infraction. “A typical scenario is that you wait four hours to see someone and you exchange five words,” he says.