Video: Assessing Ability to Pay Online at the 31st District Court

The 31st District Court in Hamtramck, Michigan has been using Matterhorn for assessing ability to pay and to resolve traffic tickets online since late 2016. In this video, the judge, court administrator, and city prosecutor share their experience.

Judge Alexis Krot, JD MBA

One of the things that is really noticeable is that a lot of people just want to get things done. And, court is inconvenient for everyone except for the people that work here, and for lawyers.

So, I was really interested in using the Matterhorn platform so that people didn’t have to miss work, miss school, find a babysitter, have to come to court when they were sick, whatever, to make it more convenient for people so that they could get their problems resolved online rather than making a personal appearance.

Court Administrator – Benjamin Ruby, JD

In terms of the intimidation factor of coming to court, it removes at least a portion of that and hopefully provides kind of an opportunity for people to ease into it, at least get the process started before they come in.

Once they realize that we’re not bad people over here, they, you know, figure “okay let me cruise in and actually take care of the rest of this.”

Judge Krot

The thing that I use the most is the ability to pay platform.

I can get more information from a person about their financial situation. They’re not embarrassed in the courtroom. They’re not giving me the information in front of a crowd of people. They don’t have to say “I just lost my job,” or “I’m just back to work, but I’m only making $10 an hour.”

It’s a less invasive way to get the information. They’re not doing it in public, so it’s more confidential for them. And, I’m getting more information, information that I need to make a decision on their payment plan.

Benjamin Ruby

It was something that, you know, from the top down we wanted to do. The judge has really made it a point to seek out opportunities using technology to improve how we deliver services here at this court.

With her setting the tone on it, [it] makes it a lot easier for people like me, makes it a lot easier for the staff to be comfortable working with a new process or with a new product. You know, it reduces some of the anxiety about making mistakes or having problems with it when you know that you’ve got the support of court leadership behind you.

City Prosecutor (2013-2018) Michael Bosnic, J.D.

It makes my job more efficient, which saves the city money. I think it’s more efficient for the drivers too because, obviously, a good number of them avoid having to come into court and they get probably the same disposition if they would come in and see me here.

So I think it’s a win-win for everybody.

Judge Krot

And when they come in, I always ask them, “Okay, this was online, how did, what did you think of the system?”

And they all say “I liked it,” “I was glad it was available,” “I was worried about going to jail, now I’m not.”

So it has been positively received by our customers.

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