Could text alerts help people avoid missing court?

More than 7,000 people missed their court hearings last year in Montgomery County-run courts.

That leads to needless time and money wasted.

Now, new county Clerk of Courts Mike Foley is looking at using technology to address the problem.

“One of the items we’re looking into is text reminders, and I know some other counties around the state have been doing this and have been successful,” Foley said.

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The medical field has been using this same system to remind people of their appointments. For example, Kettering Health Network just completed a yearlong transition to a new reminder system.

In Clark County’s Clerk of Court office, Melissa Tuttle said even if there’s a 10 percent improvement in missed court appearances it would help.

New York City, for example, when they tried it, saw a 26 percent reduction in people missing their court dates.

“A lot of people come to our courthouse and they know they have an appearance but between our two courthouses don’t know where they are supposed to be. If they had a text alert they would know what courthouse, what courtroom and what time,” Tuttle said.

The same system also could be used to remind people to show up for jury duty.

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Why haven’t court systems jumped to adopt text reminders before now?

Mostly it’s about money. It’s an upfront expense. But it has potential savings on the back end.

“Obviously, we want to get people in and out of the court system quicker. That will save court costs and judges and that sort of thing,” Foley said.

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