Vulnerability 4

Understanding & managing the role of private entities in court work

Vision 2032: Courts have a productive relationship with private entities in which the courts preserve their autonomy and principles, while benefiting from the contributions of private innovators

Several trends strongly indicate that courts can and should expect the potential role of private entities to grow in the decade ahead. These trends include the growing importance of technology firms to government and public functioning, and the expanding influence of private philanthropy and think tanks in driving specific reform and innovation agendas.

Consequently, it is important for courts to prepare for a future in which they intentionally engage with the private sector in a way that preserves courts’ public values and purposefully articulates their own agendas and principles.  A direct result of this imperative relates to the ownership and control of courts’ and court users’ data. It is essential for courts to establish data governance agreements with vendors of court data systems and consumers of court data that regulate the use, transfer, and storage of court data. It is also critical that the court community be the drivers of analyzing and exploiting court data to guide process improvements and ensure better case outcomes.

Key future-ready questions to consider

4.1  We monitor the extent of involvement (e.g., providing specific services, supporting the implementation of specific reforms) of private sector entities in our court/court system work.
4.2  We consider the short- and long-term impacts, both positively and negatively, of private sector involvement on factors such as court caseloads, services, and operational innovations/improvements.
4.3  We agree on written expectations for both parties when engaging in any private sector relationship.
4.4  We specify that the court retains ownership of and access to all court and court user data in any private sector relationship.
4.5  We require protections for court users’ privacy when engaged in any private sector relationship.

Key resources for moving forward