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Published: Monday, 2/13/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Court app on way so users can track cases

Smart phones, tablets to see Municipal slate

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Have a traffic ticket?

There's an app for that.

More specifically, there's a smart-phone and tablet application in the works that will help those with Toledo Municipal Court cases keep track of court dates and times.

Clerk of Court Vallie Bowman-English says that once it is online, users will have just another tool to take care of their court business.

"We're trying to make it as easy as possible for people to get the information they need," Ms. Bowman-English said. "The Web site is being redesigned and reformatted so people can get information on the go rather than in front of the computer."

While contracting for updates to the municipal Web site, tmc-clerk.com, Ms. Bowman-English pursued development of an application, or "app," as part of the updates.

She said the result was a free mobile app for both Android and Apple phones, which soon can be downloaded through the clerk's Web site or through the online app store.

With plans to unveil the new applications within the next month, Ms. Bowman-English said she hopes the new feature will help lawyers, clients, and victims keep better track of their cases.

The applications were wrapped into an upgrade of the clerk's Web to better allow for the payment of tickets and fines. Although the site previously accepted payment online, it would not allow users to directly access their specific case and see how much was owed.

Updates change that, Ms. Bowman-English said. "Now, there will be a direct correlation so that you know exactly what is due and you can be rest assured that you will pay what you actually owe," she said, adding that the total upgrade cost about $5,000 from the court's computerization fund.

"I want to make it as easy as possible for people to take care of their court business," she added. "Time is money, especially in today's economic climate. … We need the money and they need their time."

In general, applications can be downloaded for a fee or at no charge for things such as maps and locations of cheap gasoline. Some law-related apps exist -- for example, one reviews recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions -- but local courts seem not to have made the transition yet.

Lawyers, who increasingly are using their phones as personal calendars, said they can see the benefits of having access to court records.

Attorney Stevin Groth noted that the judicial process has become a "24-7 business." He said that he is contacted by clients at all hours, which means he often has to access records when the courthouse is closed.

"In the old days, when you had no electronic media, you were at the mercy of business hours to look into things such as warrants. Now, with a couple of flips on the iPhone or Android, you can get what you need," he said, noting that he will likely have more interrupted dinners as information becomes more easily accessible.

"When you compare it to a relatively short time ago when you were really at the mercy of the open and shut doors, this will be another helpful tool," Mr. Groth added.

Contact Erica Blake at: eblake@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.



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