Georgetown Tech Program To Begin In Tenn., Utah, Kan.

By Matt Perez | March 17, 2023, 3:43 PM EDT ·

The Georgetown University Law Center has announced the first three court projects selected for its inaugural Judicial Innovation Fellowship, which will embed technologists and software designers in state, local and tribal courts to develop tech-based solutions to improve access to the judicial system.

The program on Wednesday selected three projects for its shortlist among 18 proposals received from 14 courts across the country. Three fellows, with backgrounds as technologists, designers, data scientists or product managers, will be selected to join the Georgetown University Law Center in September to work on projects from Tennessee, Kansas and Utah.

In Chattanooga, Tennessee, the Judicial Innovation fellow will study how the Hamilton County General Sessions Court and Hamilton County Mayor's Office share data to better understand and improve the experience of individuals navigating government services, the criminal justice system and court debt obligations.

"Having an outside set of eyes assess and recommend improvements to our court case management and user interface systems will be beneficial to all of the jurisdictions, law enforcement agencies and citizens who use these systems," said Hamilton County Judge Larry Ables in the announcement on Wednesday. "I am also excited to learn about the ways these criminal and civil systems might be able to better integrate to assist those appearing in our courts."

In Kansas City or Topeka, the selected fellow will work with the Kansas Supreme Court Office of Judicial Administration to design a new electronic filing system to ease the burden of self-represented litigants.

"This project supports Kansas court modernization efforts to better serve court users," said Stephanie Smith, judicial administrator of the Kansas court system. "Through it, we will increase access to justice by creating a more equitable electronic filing infrastructure for people without an attorney to represent them."

And in Salt Lake City, a fellow will work with the Utah State Courts Self-Help Center to also develop internal processes to help self-represented litigants, as well as create a guide for hypothesis testing and a style guide for court tools.

"We know that a business-as-usual approach won't move the needle on access to justice," said Nathanael Player, director of the Self-Help Center. "The JIF fellow will serve as both a multiplier, taking all of our self-help tools to the next level, and as a changemaker, helping us to incorporate design thinking into our processes and culture."

The new program is led by Schmidt Innovation Fellow Jason Tashea and Georgetown Law professor and program co-founder Tanina Rostain. The fellowship is being funded by the New Venture Fund and the Pew Charitable Trusts, and will be based in the Justice Lab at Georgetown University Law Center.

"The goal is not to incorporate technology into courts simply for technology's sake, but to embed technology and design into court administration and services to improve the ease with which users interact with courts, make courts more equitable and increase court transparency and accountability," Rostain said when the school announced the fellowship in November.

--Editing by Adam LoBelia.

Hello! I'm Law360's automated support bot.

How can I help you today?

For example, you can type:
  • I forgot my password
  • I took a free trial but didn't get a verification email
  • How do I sign up for a newsletter?
Ask a question!