With the transition from paper filesto digital files already happening - german courts are planning to be paperless by 2020 - we think there's a lot of potential to improve parts of such a complex system.
A consideration and combination of different factors like content, medium, recipient and context into a holistic synthesis, portrayal and transfer of preprocessed information.
When processing cases there is the preparation phase, where gathering relevant information is key for presenting them in trials while there is at least a connection between judges and lawyers for sharing information and sources.
To get in touch with this topic, we researched on the internet and in the library on how trials and their preparation work and what systems jurists already use. From there on we attended various trials in public, criminal, and financial matters from which two courts already have to work with digital files.
Getting interviews with judges was rather hard, because of their enormous workload and caution to discuss judical matters with strangers. But with enough patience and good organization, we managed to conduct several interviews with judges, lawyers, law students and employees of the e-justice organization.
Judges and their decisions have to be neutral and unprejudiced. But our research showed that no human can be neutral, which is supported when being e.g. hungry. Knowing each other and being able to estimate someone is also something you can only learn by time.
Judges have two breaks per day to minimise this problem, which means having the trial after this break elevated the chance of an more positive ending.
We used the morphological box, User Journeys, Personas and other Design Thinking methods for synthesizing findings and creating ideas out of our top findings. Any form of a parameter should be compatible to those of others, so you can creatively combine aspects and get inspiration for maybe a new and innovative way to present in court.
By iterating the development and insight generation we created various possibilities to work on. This huge amount of possible solutions for even more gained insights and problems was stunning but also a big problem for us to handle. We focussed on the main insights to late but this is one of out top learnings now – to work more focussed, decide faster what to do and for and with whom.
Our latest interviews were the most important ones. We focussed on batches for the files. We simulated the opening of the filing cabinet when the program gets unlocked. Many judges, including our participants, still like to work with paper and analog. This is the reason why we adopted as many metaphors as possible into our screen design, including the choice of hardware, a touchscreen.