Friday, May 28, 2010

Order in the Court

Kate Bladow of showed some of her group's projects designed to make court procedures more transparent to low-income clients. Although Bladow might not have been the most polished of Ignite style speakers, she made a powerful argument about access to legal services in a time in which more citizens are choosing to represent themselves in court. She described how court forms continue to be the most important documents in justice system processes. (For more about e-government, access to forms, and Weberian bureaucracy, see the great work on the "virtual state" done a decade ago by Jane Fountain.) Bladow explained how "online interactive interviews" could solve some of the problems created by incorrectly filled out forms and showed several examples from LawHelp Interactive and discussed how materials could be retasked and crowdsourced for low-cost efficiency. So far the system has generated over 12,000 correct and legible forms in the New York area alone. In areas such as Kentucky and Oklahoma, courts are experimenting with eliminating confusing forms altogether.

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