The Yolo County Superior Court in California has implemented a text notification system available for parties with current cases before the court.

In a press release, Yolo Superior Court said that after signing up for texts – either online or by using QR codes available at courthouse – parties with cases before the court will receive free text notifications of court dates, continuances, and cancellations on their phones. The court did note that the program is not available to individuals who are not a party to the case. The court also said that while most case types are eligible for a text notification, there are some case types that are not available for this program due to strict confidentiality requirements.

“The Text Notification Program is a part of the court’s continued commitment to transparency and access,” Presiding Judge Daniel Maguire stated, “It is our hope that eligible parties sign up and use this free program and that they find it helpful. We get it, people are busy, and reminders are always helpful.”

The court said it hopes that the new program will help reduce failures to appear, which can result in  unnecessary delays, and potentially additional charges against a defendant.

“We are excited about this public access tool that provides parties hearing dates, times and courtroom information needed to appear at court,” said Shawn Landry, Yolo Superior Court’s CEO. “Most people already use text notification reminders for dentist appointments or other commitments in our daily lives, this is no different. It is really a win-win; a convenience for parties and it will reduce the number of postponements and failures to appear.”

The new notification system was praised by Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig.

“I commend the court for using innovation to streamline the criminal justice system,” Reisig said. “The rate of people failing to appear in court has been very high over the years. Most people don’t intentionally miss court and for those, getting text reminders will be extremely beneficial.”

The new text system also earned praised from the other side of the aisle.

“People can be jailed for missing court. Being jailed even for a few days disrupts employment and housing and causes other hardships in family units,” said Tracie Olson, Yolo County Public Defender. “A text reminder system helps people stay on track. I will certainly encourage clients to sign up.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs