Thursday, May 14, 2015

Smart Forms – Helping the Self-Represented, Helping the Courts

One of the things that we teach here at the NCSC is that court internet web services need to be oriented to the user’s requirements. And, in turn control how information is presented for adjudication. Smart Forms provide one successful approach to address this need.



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Recently we received a press release from Intresys TurboCourt regarding the new Florida Domestic Violence victims system.  This is a very new project and so I wrote to them about that and previous efforts. They shared their good work in Multnomah County (Portland) Oregon.  In that TurboCourt system that is provided free by the court, they have a guided “smart forms” approach for:

  • Applying for a restraining order
  • Challenging a restraining order
  • Renewing a restraining order
  • Modifying a restraining order

TurboCourt Smart Forms have the benefit of being hosted on a national vendor supported website and therefore can be easily updated when the information or the resulting forms changes.  In addition, interactive guided forms have the benefit of not confusing self-represented users with text/fields that have no applicability in what they are trying to do.  This is a great weakness of paper and PDF forms that replicate the paper versions.  In other words, while these forms are designed to meet legal requirements, they don’t necessarily meet the user’s requirements very well.  For more on the Oregon system click here.




A good analogy is comparing the use of US paper tax forms versus using a software program like Intuit TurboTax.  There is really no comparison in ease of use because the web allows for smart interaction thus eliminating superfluous fields and information that are normal for paper forms no matter how much time or effort is expended.

Congratulations to our friends at Intresys and the Florida and Oregon courts for putting court user’s needs first.

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