63rd District Court introduces new mobile check-in app for attorneys



by Cynthia?Price
Legal News

It is not every day that a Michigan Supreme Court Justice comes to the 63rd District Court.

In fact, 63rd District Court Chief Judge Sara Smolenski, who has been with the court since 1990, said that Wednesday’s visit from Justice David F. Viviano is the first time she can remember.

But Justice Viviano has an avid interest in court technology, which he developed as chief judge at the Macomb County Circuit Court prior to his 2013 appointment to the Michigan Supreme Court (MSC). He is the MSC point person for statewide e-filing, and the MSC?website calls him “a strong advocate for technological innovation in the court system.”
And that is exactly what the open house the justice attended Wednesday was all about.

The 63rd District Court obtained a grant from the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) Court Performance Innovation Fund to develop a mobile telephone app that allows attorneys to check in for scheduled cases electronically.

Justice Viviano also has another interest in the area: his sister Janet lives in Cascade with her husband Dr. Stephen Delapp and children.?He was able to visit with her on this trip, having also been here recently for his niece’s graduation.

Judge Smolenski thanked Justice Viviano for MSC’s assistance. While he said that he had not had been directly involved with the grant, he offered his support going forward. He expressed his hope that the app will be successful and spread to courts around the state.

At this time, the app, which can be downloaded to the phone by going to www.accesskent.com/MobileCheckin, is open only to attorneys and the 63rd court staff.

The intent of the open house was to introduce the app and to give an overview of its potential as well as simple instructions for its use. Each attorney participant was given a sheet with a QR code that gave him or her instant access to the app.

63rd District Court Administrator Kevin McKay led attendees through the use of the app, starting with entering their Bar or P number.

The process is intuitive for those familiar with app technology. Though it has a few potential stumbling blocks, the guidelines available at the above website step users through them.

Someone who has a number of cases may check in for them at the same time.

It is important to note that attorneys must be physically present and ready to go in to the courtroom before they check in.

Once all of the parties have arrived, court personnel will call the case, and it will be removed from the listing in the app. Prior to that, case details can be reviewed from any location.

The listing will be updated every day at 6:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Later, Justice Viviano said that not only will the app be more convenient for lawyers, but it also should result in savings for the whole court system through freeing up staff time.                                             

There is discussion of eventually opening the mobile app to the general public so that people can check in when they are parties in a case, but the court wants to work out the kinks before that. Currently, an attorney checking in may indicate which of the parties is present at the time of his or her own check-in.

McKay said that about four or five other courts applied for similar grants, and the 63rd was chosen to pilot the project because it uses JIS, or Judicial Information Systems, technology, which is also used by SCAO, but technological problems will be worked out as additional courts desire to implement the mobile check-in. All of the courts continue to be involved in a committee looking at how the app is progressing.

61st District Court Clerk Tanya Todd said that she had come to the open house to find out more. In particular, she wondered how it would function with a walk-in court; McKay said he thought it could, provided someone was available to key in each case as it came up.