A new private space at CITC facilitates virtual court appearances, electronic filing, and more
This year, the COVID-19 pandemic forced most Alaskans to rethink how they work, go to school, and access services. While many Alaskans have long struggled to overcome barriers to accessing the justice system, the COVID pandemic threw this issue into stark relief.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has required the court system to expand the availability of remote access through electronic filing, teleconference appearances, and videoconference proceedings,” wrote Alaska Supreme Court Justice Joel Bolger in an email to CITC President and CEO Gloria O’Neill earlier this year.
Justice Bolger wasn’t just highlighting technological strides the court system had made, though; he was reaching out to see if CITC and its subsidiary, the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) could partner on an innovative new resources for Alaskans.
Located inside the Nat’uh Service Center, the CITC Court Kiosk is unique resource for anyone who needs to appear in court virtually, work on legal documents, or electronically file documents with the State of Alaska Court System. The Kiosk is also available for CITC and ANJC staff who must testify in court.
This private space is located on Nat’uh’s third floor and is outfitted with a telephone, Bluetooth technology, a printer/scanner, and a Mondo pad with camera, keyboard, and mouse. Third-floor staff will be available for some technological assistance, while CITC/ANJC staff working with specific participants will be responsible for helping those individuals with questions about their case or court needs.
“Throughout COVID, it’s been clear that many people are not able to go to the courthouse to file documents or access resources,” said Alex Cleghorn, ANJC Policy and Legal Director. “Many more pleadings are filed electronically now, and people are appearing in court by phone or virtually more often.”
“When Justice Bolger shared this idea as a way of breaking down significant barriers to access to the court, we quickly saw this as something ANJC and CITC could step forward and provide,” added ANJC Director Tammy Ashley.
While COVID has brought about many disruptive changes to how people operate in the world, changes in the court system have been one of the bright sides to an unfortunate situation. The Court Kiosk is part of a greater effort, overall, to make it easier for everyone to interact with the courts.
“The court system has strived for many years to decrease the barriers,” said Alex. “In conjunction with efforts like the self-help center and the pro-se resources that are available, the Court Kiosk is another way to meet people where they are and give them access to what they need.”
The Court Kiosk is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., by appointment and first-come, first-served. To schedule time in the room, individuals can contact Alaska’s People at (907) 793-3467 or by working with a case manager or other CITC/ANJC staff.