Over the past few weeks our ‘Fighting Crime with Technology’ series has explored some of the ways in which the use of Microsoft technologies. A few weeks ago we explored the concept of using video technology in the courts – now we take a closer look at how courts can benefit from digital.
When it comes to e-justice—using technology to improve access to justice and strengthen the legal system—a great example is the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. The court wanted to digitize its processes so justices could work remotely and staff members could handle their rapidly growing caseload more efficiently.
By moving to a cloud model based on Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Intune for mobile device management, and a new case management system based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Supreme Court processes now run more smoothly and adjournments occur less often. Moreover, the court is now on track to reduce its overall IT budget by up to 60 percent, while empowering staff to work more efficiently.
This example demonstrates the power of cloud technology to improve how courts operate. Using Microsoft technology, courts around the globe can dramatically increase their efficiency—speeding up trials, reducing costs, and enhancing the transparency of judicial proceedings. Consider the following:
Digitizing court records
By digitizing and indexing court files, judges, prosecutors, and defence attorneys can quickly search for and obtain the specific cases they need, right when they need them. Staff members no longer need to search among thousands of paper-based court records kept in storage. And they don’t need to worry about lost or damaged files. By migrating these files to the cloud on Microsoft Azure, courts obtain the failover needed to make sure court records are always available—complete with the most recent decisions and developments.
By implementing technologies such as Microsoft Office 365, judges, clerks, stenographers, court clerks, prosecutors and defense attorneys have access to a transparent and dynamic scheduling system. With access to others’ calendars, they can easily schedule court dates. And with the capabilities of Skype for Business, they can quickly handle administrative procedures via video conferences—without the need for all parties to physically appear in the court room.
Using technologies like Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, courts can more easily manage cases from beginning to end. Take a criminal case, for example. By digitizing paper processes, information about the case can be seamlessly transferred from the police department to the prosecutor and defence attorney and then to the judge at the start of the trial. If the defendant is convicted, the file can then be digitally transferred to the prison or parole office, with each relevant official obtaining the real-time information needed to keep the case moving forward.
For many proceedings, courts can let police and citizens appear remotely using Skype for Business, expediting judicial processes as well as saving time and money by keeping police on the streets. In addition, Skype for Business can be used to enable people who are in custody to testify from jail, reducing the expense of securely transporting defendants to the courtroom.
Today’s advanced data analytics tools give courts the opportunity to improve their efficiency. For example, administrative officials can tap into the Cortana Analytics Suite to analyse how quickly the court system is processing cases from arrest to sentencing, identifying bottlenecks that need to be addressed. They can also compare how different judges sentence similar crimes, with the goal of achieving greater consistency and transparency in sentencing.
These are just some of the ways that Microsoft technology can dramatically improve the judicial operations.