A Dashboard for the Municipal Court
Research, UX Design, Visual Design | Ideation Studio
Design a service or product for a smart city.
Recruitment, Ideation, Personas, Key Flows, UI Elements, Wireframes, Interaction Diagrams, Prototyping
How might we make the municipal court system equal and efficient for all individuals within the city?
Secondary Research into Smart Cities, Behavioral Change, and Social Justice
When given the prompt to design for a Smart City, we explored how we could change behavior to address social injustices, and decided to narrow in on the municipal court.
We aim to minimize decision fatigue and implicit bias to aid judges in delivering more consistent rulings in parole cases.
Secondary Research of the Municipal Courts
Under the assumption that judges suffered from decision fatigue and implicit bias, their court rulings were suspect and inconsistent. We hypothesized that if judges were aware of their fatigue and implicit bias, they would be motivated to change their behavior.
We mind mapped, braided, and brainstormed for ideas. Each of us then sketched 10 higher quality ideas. All our ideas were pinned, and we voted with stickers the ideas we wanted to move forward with. After thoughtful discussion, we decided to pursue a practical design for the government holding the Judge to a higher level of accountability.
Our storyboards then focused on solutions that minimized decision fatigue and implicit bias to aid Judges in delivering more consistent rulings.
How might we streamline communication to help prioritize the level of care and time spent on each case?
In an interview with a law student, we discovered key insights into the court systems: There is a severe lack of communication within the court, and there is a slow movement from paper-to-digital information systems. If we shifted communication and case handlings into a digital platform then judges could be able to spend more time and care on their cases.
To validate the dashboard, I created a paper prototype using cardboard and paper and conducted four usability tests.
As I tested out the flows with two librarians, a law student, and a lawyer, I also began asking questions to learn more. During these unexpected interviews, I learned more about the role of court and law clerks to judges, as well as paralegals to attorneys, and all the intermingling relationships. With constraint of time, we decided to pursue the judge-clerk interactions.
The Updated Opportunity
How can communication and task management between judges and clerks be improved?
Poor communication and task management between judges and clerks in the municipal court can often lead to confusion and inefficient usage of time.
Judges and Clerks are “not on the same page”
Courts are trying to “digitize” systems
Current electronic systems are difficult to use
Law Clerks support judges in researching their cases
Court Clerks support the court in managerial tasks
A Law Clerk can be assigned on to multiple cases at a time for multiple Judges
Flows, Interactions & UI
Initial Wireframes & Flows
I mocked the initial flows to get a sense of how the personas would interact to fulfill their goals.
Whiteboarding Screens & Flows
After discussion in what the key flows should feature, we decided to highlight the clerks’ interaction as they had a more active role with the platform while the judge maintained more of a viewing role.
Narrowing into these interactions, we constructed flows to denote the possibilities of each module within the dashboard.
Law Clerk: Samantha
+ Researches cases and statutes
+ Translates research into draft legal documents
+ Writes rulings with Judge
+ Creates tasks for herself and the Judge
Court Clerk: Daniela
+ Inputs case filings into the system
+ Manages dockets and cases for Judges
+ Instructs both parties about timings of court cases
+ Creates events (court trials, meetings, etc.) for Judge’s calendar
+ Presides over trials and hearings
+ Issues search warrants, arrest warrants and restraining orders
+ Supervises courtroom staff
+ Researches and reads cases
Visual & UI Guide
Sharp, sophisticated order
We chose a dark UI for a solemn, but elegant look with inspiration from the high courts and romanticized law. Montserrat added to the sophistication with its mixture of sharp and curved linework. The primary colors are cool and dark while the secondary provide subtle pops of gem-toned colors. The UI overall is sleek, collected, and purposed.
Astraia, a dashboard that manages cases, schedules, and tasks for judges, court clerks, and law clerks.
Mundane processes are streamlined allowing more time and care to the cases and the people affected. Astraia is also the name of the goddess of justice.
Streamlining Cases, Schedules and Tasks
At the dashboard, one can quickly review what needs to be done and their selected cases.
Assigning Cases to Law Clerks
Law clerks can be assigned to cases by Judges, Court Clerks, or themselves.
Maintaining References to a Case
References for the cases can added to particular cases for the Judge’s review.
Keeping Up with Tasks
Tasks can been added (to particular cases) and archived after completion.
Apply further intensive research and knowledge
As the court systems vary extensively, I would follow up with further contextual inquiries, observations, and competitive analysis to adjust Astraia so it is adaptable to any court.
Overcome barriers and obstacles into various court ecosystems
Have Astraia redesigned to be government-compliant and adapted to every local, state, and national court through co-design principles.
The context, stakeholders, and nuances influence the design
My initial understanding of the judicial system was minute and kept expanding throughout the design phase. As I learned more, the design changed as well.
Research revealed the complexity of the judicial system
Municipal courts vary from state to state, and even from court to court. Roles and responsibilities are likely to be inconsistent because of this. A solution must be solutions backed by various stakeholders.