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Hybrid Hearings Improvement Initiative

The National Center for State Courts launched the Hybrid Hearings Improvement Initiative to help courts around the country identify viable solutions to the challenge of using remote and hybrid technology in the courtroom.  The Center is working with 12 pilot courts on the project and has extended support to an additional cohort of courts through technical assistance and implementation lab sessions.  The findings of the project will be published in a report in late 2023.

For a list of participating courts, click here.

A hybrid court hearing is one in which at least one participant is attending from the courtroom using the room’s technical infrastructure and at least one participant is attending remotely either via videoconferencing platform or phone, using either audio, video or both.

The Hybrid Hearings Improvement Initiative (HHII) is a one-year pilot project that will provide state and local courts an opportunity to learn from and improve upon pandemic-era practices to create permanent changes to their hearing practices.

Grant funding will be provided to implement a package of technical and operational solutions that will allow NCSC to evaluate the merits of various systems.  This may include funding to support the cost of technology equipment and installation of the equipment in at least one courtroom in the jurisdiction, integration with existing systems (when appropriate), and technical assistance to support the preliminary operation of the equipment and development of hybrid hearing procedures.  For courts with viable hybrid hearing systems in place, NCSC will work with the court to build on the existing platform and identify supplemental needs consistent with the goals of the pilot.

There will be no direct costs to participating courts since the costs associated with purchasing the pilot package (e.g., hardware, software, installation, integration and training) will be covered by the grant. There may be indirect costs associated with staff time and all participating courts will be expected to make a commitment to making themselves available to both NCSC and project technical staff.  There may also be the need for the court to coordinate with local governments regarding equipment installation and associated impacts on infrastructure.

It is our hope that as part of the grant, participating courts will get to keep the hardware and software used in association with the pilot. We will work with selected courts on the front end to ensure a transparent agreement is reached. Following the conclusion of the pilot, ongoing licensing and maintenance would be the responsibility of the court.

The pilot is designed to test multiple platforms and technical solutions across the participating sites to learn which systems and features will meet the needs of courts nationwide.  NCSC will work with the selected courts to determine the most appropriate package for that site.

No, it does not, but there is a presentation taking place at the upcoming National Association for Presiding Judges and Court Executive Officers Conference in August that will address other remote services, including probation.

The goal of the pilot project is to identify technology and procedural solution(s) that make hybrid hearings possible.  To identify viable solutions, NCSC staff will evaluate the utility of the technology and its impact on hearing participants.  Courts will be asked to:

  • Participate in virtual and/or in-person site visits from project staff;
  • Collect and share in-person, remote and hybrid hearing court data with NCSC evaluators;
  • Coordinate with county facilities, security and IT staff regarding the physical development of the court space and provide access for equipment installation;
  • Permit NCSC evaluators to observe court hearings remotely;
  • Provide NCSC evaluators with contact information for court participants;
  • Receive technical assistance and support from NCSC staff and other HHII partners; and
  • Provide feedback to NCSC staff on the effectiveness of the hybrid hearing technology equipment.

Contact

Additional questions can be sent to Alecia Burke.

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