DES MOINES, Iowa — In his State of the Judiciary address Chief Justice Mark Cady highlighted the importance of technology in the courts.
“Our future can no longer be about taking small steps or standing still. We need to think big and take big steps. Every day we must seek to achieve what can be imagined” he said.
Cady’s address was geared to the future, touting new ideas like the Digital Opportunities Initiative which contains projects such as text messages to defendants reminding them of court dates, and electronically filed search warrants.
“Imagine, a time when law enforcement officers will no longer need to drive from the scene of an investigation to the courthouse to request a warrant because judges will be able to transmit search warrants to the officers in their vehicles” said Cady.
Chief Justice Cady says another tech advancement may be starting up sooner rather than later, online dispute resolution for small claims court.
“We hope to establish a pilot project on online dispute resolution in a county or two, we’re looking at that now and we hope that early in this year we’d be able to set that up” he said.
The speech was well received by lawmakers like Republican State Senator Charles Schneider, who thinks it will be hard to find people who oppose expanding access to the justice system.
“I think those are all principles we can get behind regardless of party affiliation. We want to make sure we have a strong judiciary and that they’re able to apply justice evenly throughout the state and that everyone who needs access to the courts is able to get it” he said.
The question will be how much funding the judicial branch will get to implement these improvements.
“Obviously, some of these projects and proposals are going to take some additional funding, but I think the vision is what can drive us there and I hope we’ve started that discussion today” said Cady.
The Judicial branch estimates that in FY 19 they will give legislators about a 2 million dollar return on investment for the money they appropriated. Chief Justice Cady hopes implementing more tech programs will end with more money saved for taxpayers, and greater ease of access for Iowans.