What is the Court Innovation’s Program?
The California Judicial Council launched the Court Innovation’s Grant Program with funding from the Budget Act of 2016, which provided $25 million to lead advances and developments in court delivery practices that will be shared throughout California. Through this initiative, The Superior Court of California, Butte County was awarded a grant to implement an innovative service delivery initiative called SHARP Tech Connect for self-represented litigants through enhanced technology virtual platforms. The initiative will provide services to 13 counties.
According to the Judicial Council’s Benchguide, Handling Self-Represented Litigants, “One of the most significant changes in the court system in recent years is the growing number of self-represented litigants.” By most estimates, between 70-90% of all litigants in family law and family law related litigation are self-represented. Not only are litigants handling their own legal matters, they have expectations of utilizing technology while interfacing with government organizations.
Additionally, we have more people in need of services than we have staff. Many self-help centers have limited hours of operation, minimal staff, and significant waiting lists for appointments. As stewards of public dollars and resources, it is our responsibility to be abreast of the latest technology and tools to better serve our citizens and get more people out-of-lines and online for services.
The SHARP Tech Connect project aims to expand the capacity of our collaboration across courts and to cast a wider net of accessibility to some of our most remote communities in the state. This will be accomplished via the following initiatives: