To overcome the unprecedented backlog of court cases created by the pandemic, courts must be reimagined. Rather than strictly brick-and-mortar operations, court must consider themselves digital platforms. To accomplish this, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)—with support from 18F, U.S. Digital Service, the Legal Services Corporation, and the State Justice Institute—must build and fund professional and technical capacity at the state level to develop and adopt standardized digital infrastructure for courts and other justice agencies. Due to the replicable nature of this solution across states, the federal government is perfectly positioned to lead this effort, which will be more cost effective than if each court system attempted this work on their own. The estimated cost is $1 billion.
This once-in-a-generation investment will allow courts to collect granular, raw data, which can help overcome the current backlog, increase access to the justice system, inform policies that drive down mass incarceration, improve transparency, and seed a public and private revolution in justice technology that improves access to justice for all Americans.