Yuma courthouse using new electronic calendar display system
For many years, possibly even decades, patrons of the Yuma County courthouse would have to look for their names on typed pages that were taped together and hung on display boards near the entrance and outside of each of the courtrooms to find out where they needed to go for their hearings.
But now, thanks to new technology, those days are gone. Patrons can now see the court's schedule displayed on large, 46-inch, sleek, flat-screen monitors that have been installed in the same places those paper dockets once hung.
“Up until recently, everything had been done by paper,” said presiding Superior Court Judge John Nelson. “The calenders were four feet long and some of them hung to the floor. You had to find your name and figure out what is going on. Now when people come in, they can easily see what courtroom they need to go to.”
There are a total of 12 of these monitors at the Yuma County Courthouse, four in the main lobby downstairs and one outside each of the building's eight courtrooms.
Nelson, who has always been an advocate of technology, said he had two goals when he became the presiding court judge: make the courthouse as safe as possible and provide the community the access it needs to meet its legal needs.
“Those are two goals I've always felt it was important to have,” Nelson said. “Obviously the electronic calender system is designed for the community to meet its legal needs.”
A common scene at the courthouse each morning in years past used to be two or three people scanning the typed docket pages looking for their names while large groups of other patrons patiently waited their turn, which often clogged up the hallway. Now with the new monitors, everyone can see them at once.
While the monitors are becoming pretty standard in courts across the country, they do not contain all the information that was printed on the typed pages. For example, the typed pages used to have who the judge was, the type of hearing being held, what division the hearing was being held in and who the attorneys were in each case.
The monitors, however, only display the person's name and the courtroom number the hearing is being held in. While not near the information the typed pages used to contain, Nelson said it still provides patrons with all the information they need to know.
“The person whose name is going to be on the calender sheet knows why they are here,” Nelson said. “People have kind of figured it out. For the most part they say it is a really good system.”
Another neat feature of the new electronic calender system is that it displays all the information in real time and refreshes regularly throughout the day. Once a hearing has been completed it will no longer appear on the monitor, so as the day progresses, only hearings that still need to be held will be displayed.
A second phase of the electronic calender system, which the court began using more recently, is an online component. Nelson explained that there is now a link on the Yuma County website that will allow court patrons to see the information online.
Like the monitors at the courthouse, information on the website also refreshes throughout the day. The big difference, however, is that while the monitors at the courthouse aren't available until 8 a.m. when the courthouse opens, the information for the upcoming day's schedule can be accessed at midnight online on the county's website.
The entire system, including the equipment and software to run it, came with a price tag of approximately $56,000 and was approved by the Yuma County Board of Supervisors.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.