In recent years, North Carolina’s legislature and court system has invested substantial time, money and effort toward modernizing the state’s interface with the public — attempting to address both growing rumblings of distrust among the public toward government and studies commissioned that reveal an urgent need for upgrades within the court’s technology offerings. Though not for a lack of trying, the court system has strained to realize adequate returns from its investment. We believe the court system can use a victory in this space — one which Civvis can deliver.
We are a software company headquartered in Raleigh, NC is revolutionizing how both the public and legal organizations interact with the complex paper-based court system by providing a simple to use, modern, device agnostic online platform. Founded by a team of software, business, and legal professionals, Civvis’ management is a diverse collective with strong experience in the public, private, IT, and legal sectors.
We set out on a mission to redesigned access to help you redefine justice.
North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law & Justice (NCCALJ) Final Report
In March 2017, the North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law & Justice (NCCALJ) published its final report (the “Final Report”) after exhaustive research and investigation. The Commission came back with its recommendations in a 360-page account that focused on need for improving the courts by focusing on five primary arenas — all of which the Civvis solution is custom-designed to address: (1) improving technology; (2) increasing efficiency; (3) assisting self-representing litigants; (4) gauge court reputation and citizen satisfaction; and (5) effective utilization of legal professionals.
If implemented, emphasized, and monitored, these recommendations can substantially improve our justice system. They will fail, however, without commitment from state-level leaders and from court officials in every courthouse. Like justice itself, effective management will always be a work in progress, but it is possible and must be a priority.— Page 23, NCCALJ Final Report
Implementing a Strategic Technology Plan for Paperless Courthouses
North Carolina was once a leader in using technology in its civil justice system but today lags behind other jurisdictions.— Page 31, NCCALJ Final Report
In this State — and this region in particular — where software companies are created every day and are disrupting the digital movement nationwide, it is inconceivable for our court system to stand behind any other jurisdiction’s in technology. However, a growing swarm of competing priorities has conspired to render our court system outdated. Civvis can fix this problem.
In the Final Report, the Commission found that “court forms are not as readily accessible as they might be,” See Final Report, page 57, and that the court system and the public would greatly benefit from “[s]tandardizing forms and templates …” Id. at 60. North Carolina citizens can benefit from the State “[c]reating websites with user-friendly court information and online forms.” Id. Moreover, the court system can “drastically reduce manual processes and reliance on paper documents” through implementation of technological innovations. Id. at 82. The conclusion the Commission comes to is that “online information and supporting mobile technology cannot be overstated.” Id. at 86.
Using sophisticated mapping technology, Civvis is capable of modernizing practically any form or legal filing and creating user-friendly experiences for North Carolina citizens and government employees. Moreover, through automated readers and high-level formulas, Civvis can gather, compile and even organize myriads of data points for use by legislators, judges and law enforcement to improve access to justice and tout victories along this front.
Specifically, Civvis offers a solution that covers all aspects of submitting, maintaining and processing documents with features that include:
- User-friendly, customer-facing online forms for citizens
- User-experience that give citizens confidence and facilitates accurate filings
- Data delivery into the courts’ eSystems
- Communication tools such as text and e-mail alerts for citizens and court staff
- Cross-agency workflows
- Multi-device ready — mobile, tablet, and desktop design
- Section 508 compliant
- Multilingual capabilities
- Single click review & approvals
- Statistical reports and analytics
- Full or hybrid digital and paper processing
- Rapid scalability for high volume processes
- Custom branding
Reducing Case Delays and Improving Efficiency Based on Data Analytics
[The] highly paper-driven business environment is rife with opportunity for technological innovation, but the lack of uniformity across local business processes is an obstacle that needs to be thoughtfully addressed.— Page 85, NCCALJ Final Report
With the growing number of filings flowing into an outdated system, the “court system is awash in this daily tide of a paper.” Id. at 13. An estimated 31,369,840 pages were added to clerks’ case files in 2012–13. Id. at 31. Under the current system, each of these pages must be manually inputted by a clerk into the old system, creating an inefficient redundancy of effort. Id. at 89. Indeed, this “manual process contributes significantly to the estimated 30 million pieces of paper” as decades-old forms — and often multiple forms for a single filing — ask for the same information in various locations and slows the processing of important filings. The result is a backlog that delays urgent petitions and motions and overwhelms clerks beyond their capacity.
Raleigh is the state capital of North Carolina and is home to 178 state government agencies. Although, each agency serves a different role and function, most require the submission of paper forms. For its part, the court system is forced to process enormous amounts of paper is the court system. In 2016, the 30-plus million pages of paper the clerks’ offices in North Carolina processed required more than 4.3 miles of shelving. That paper gets moved from files to courtrooms, and back again — over and over, every day. Each month, hundreds of thousands of these files are pulled from shelves and carried to and from more than 500 courtrooms.
Civvis will digitize forms, making them available online to the citizenry and accessible on a cloud by the courts. Civvis can organize, transmit and share online documents and coordinate workshare between the public, the clerks, judges and law enforcement — all without requiring the printing of a single page.
Most importantly, Civvis is a flexible solution that can bend to meet the varying needs of individual county and court house processes, while still displaying one, uniform user interface.
Assisting the Growing Number of Self-Represented Litigants in New Ways
Trust and Confidence Committees have each recommended steps that the court system can take to better accommodate and serve self-represented litigants. Many of these recommendations involve enhanced use of technology, expanded customer assistance, and improved education programs.— Page 20, NCCALJ Final Report
The Final Report finds that many litigants believe the cost of legal representation is too great a barrier for taking legal action — or at least retaining an attorney. Under some circumstances, litigants will appear pro se, but they are ill equipped under the current climate to adequately protect their rights. This can frustrate the administration of justice — not to mention the public who plead for justice to be served. In response, the Commission advises that the courts must make available self-help websites that provide forms. Id. at 57. These resources, as well as current forms and instruction should be improved and made available online. Id. at 40. One of the primary solutions the Commission profers is a “public-interfacing component [that is] accessible across multiple types of devices [to] help reduce barriers to court access.” Id. at 86. This public-facing component should aim to “erase cultural and language barriers.”
Currently, the barrier to justice for many North Carolinians is far too great. Filing for specific relief often requires submission of multiple forms, many of which use jargon or vocabulary that is unfamiliar to large segments of this State’s population. Indeed, all of these forms are written in English — creating obstacles for Spanish and other foreign speaking residents. Civvis can solve this issue with its easily integrated system. Taking a TurboTax-like approach, Civvis will walk citizens through a series of simple questions and include info tabs that allow citizens to access educational material to assist them to complete filings. Moreover, the Civvis solution can be made available in several foreign languages while populating the forms in English.
Surveying the Public to Better Gauge its Perception of the Courts
Undoubtedly, fairness and accessibility are fundamental values to any court system. But a system that fails to use its resources effectively or manage its work efficiently will not serve justice and will forfeit public trust and confidence.— Page 21, NCCALJ Final Report
The Final Report found that North Carolina citizens do not feel that the court system is accessible. There is a pervading attitude that, with redundant and confusing processes along with delays caused by seemingly miniscule user filing errors, the courts are not primarily focused on ensuring a voice and administering justice to the State’s people. While sympathetic to these complaints, Civvis understands that there is a major obstacle for the courts to shed a reputation for being slow-moving and available only to those who can afford attorneys. Civvis was designed to help the courts meet and leap this challenge.
Using Civvis will make filing easy, speed up processing and offer litigants the choice to stay in constant contact with the court system to track the progress of their case.
The legal profession and the court system have a shared duty to promote access to justice. The Committee recognizes that people who cannot afford essential legal services should still be able to access these services. Similarly, people who lack lawyers should still have access to the courts.— Page 50, NCCALJ Final Report
In truth, North Carolina attorneys do not need the Commission’s findings to understand their duty to improve court access and judicial expediency. Upon taking their oath to protect our State’s constitution, attorneys are subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct. At the outset, in its preamble, the Rules make plain that supporting and furthering any effort to help citizens find access to justice is an attorney’s duty.
Civvis is a robust and creative solution that promotes the efficiencies of the court system and facilitates citizens’ access to justice. It is the type of judicial solution that every attorney should champion. Moreover, it has the added benefit of taking loss-leading and administrative work from law offices and expediting an attorney’s involvement in client representation. The forms that Civvis aims to provide are those most commonly used by pro se litigants. By easing the public’s ability to access and file these forms, Civvis will help the State to promote seeking justice through the court system — while educating claimants on the importance of seeking advice of counsel after submitting urgent filings.
NCCALJ Website: https://nccalj.org
NCCALJ Final Report: https://nccalj.org/final-report/
How CIVVIS Works
We redesigned access to help you redefine justice.
First, Civvis revolutionizes how both the public and legal organizations interact with the complex paper-based court system by providing a simple to use, modern, device agnostic online platform. Civvis leverages modern tools and best practices to ensure processes are mobile-friendly, ADA Section 508 / WCAG 2.0 compliant, and multilingual capable out-of-the-box. It also offers text and email notifications for citizens as the status of submitted documents change.
Second, Civvis equips court systems with a flexible tool reduces workload while modernizing existing processes. The Civvis platform collects clean, secure data — ready to import into existing systems. Other features include paperless processing, single-click reviewals and approvals, cross-agency compatibility, and statistical/analytic reporting. In addition to its core platform, Civvis offers comprehensive technical support plans as well as hands-on assistance if needed.
Users at every stage will have more highly coordinated involvement. By using Civvis, claimants can quickly overcome the hassle of filing complicated court paperwork and receive critical and potentially life-saving communications as their case is processed. Through a series of simple questions and “info” icons that provide further explanation if needed, the average citizen can efficiently and simply file their form. Meanwhile, clerks, judges and law enforcement can seamlessly communicate with one another as submissions are processed and approved.
Civvis is built to manage any document preparation process. Included are guided webforms, PDF mapping and downloads, electronic submissions, workflows / approval processes, statistical visualization, Google Map integration, and communication tools such as email notifications and text (SMS) alerts.
Hosting and Support
Our hosting and support grants partners secure cloud hosting as well as on-call access to our technical experts. We offer application monitoring, service level agreements, data integrity and security, maintenance updates, and redundancy plans.
We’re committed to ensuring the security of our infrastructure and our users’ data. Our application is virtualized and has strict filtering rules to ensure its own kernel and user space and connects to our application via SSL and private networking with network peering.
Simplified and Instant Data Delivery
User data collected via our application is safely transferred to our public-sector partners on an as-needed basis. The data delivered is structurally sound and clean — ready to import into existing applications.
Civvis is always improving our application and adding new functionality. We current offer LDAP authentication, eSystem integration and statistical reports / analytics. Also, coming soon is eSignature, audit trail via blockchain and complete paperless workflow.