Two years ago, there started some talk about US courts using SMS and other phone-based communication to issue reminders for court hearings to people. It seems several other countries have already launched such pilots.
The Qatari government’s Supreme Judiciary Council has one such program live, at Court Hearing SMS Reminder – Hukoomi – Qatar E-government. Any litigant can register online & in three steps, the Court will let them “receive text message reminders on selected court hearing dates and times.”
The steps the citizen needs to follow:
- Sign Up Online
- Enter ID number
- Enter mobile phone number
- Click the registration button
Qatar’s SMS reminder service is free and apparently beyond just a pilot stage.
Australia also has an SMS Reminder system, in Pilot phase. The Magistrates’ Court of Victoria runs the pilot in the Criminal Diversion Program. There is no way to register for the system online — like Qatar allows. The Australian Court provides these details on its pilot:
In order to increase compliance with Criminal Diversion Plans, an SMS Reminder Pilot has been established statewide and administered from the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court. Offenders who have not finalised their Criminal Diversion Plans within a month or a week of their stated completion date, will receive reminders via SMS to do so.
The aim of the pilot is to increase compliance of offenders, reduce paper usage by the court, and in doing so, reduce the cost of administering the Criminal Diversion Program. The SMS Reminder Pilot commenced on Monday 2 July 2012 and has so far indicated a strong early result with respect to the aims of the pilot.
For more information, please contact your local Criminal Diversion Coordinator, available at all headquarter Magistrates’ Courts within Victoria.
Another court in Australia, the Adelaide Magistrates Court, also is issuing phone-based reminders to offenders and accused in criminal proceedings. Tessa Akerman in The Advertiser wrote an interview with one of the judges involved.
ACCUSED criminals can expect text messages reminding them to appear in court, as the state’s magistrates courts embrace the use of technology.
Judge Elizabeth Bolton, the state’s Chief Magistrate, told The Advertiser that people needed to realise the world had changed and we needed to “make the most of, within our resources, using those technological solutions”.
“We’ve still got some things in the pipeline from the process redesign project we did a year or two ago. I’m hopeful we will get around to the SMS project that might help people who, as many do, forget or don’t read their papers correctly, whatever it is, just as a reminder as you do from your hairdresser, your dentist,” she said.
But it would have to wait “a little bit” because computer resources were needed to complete the fines transition process, due to start in February.
Judge Bolton said shrinking budgets and changing needs were behind the court’s increasing take-up of technology.
“I think it’s incumbent on all of us to realise we are living in an age where there is much more technological facility than previously and if people habitually put all their stuff in their mobile phone rather than … write it on a piece of paper or have a calendar … then we just have to realise that’s how their minds operate.”