Civil Case Reminder

The Problem:

Hundreds of low income residents lose their civil case every year because they simply don't show up to court and have a default judgment entered against them. We used a pre compiled database of civil cases which is updated daily in (built before the hackathon). Our analysis of this data determined the 4 zip codes with the highest default judgment rates were 21213, 21215, 21217, 21218. In these zip codes in 2016 out of 3,132 civil cases there were 2,080 default judgments entered against them.

The Reason:

There are several reasons for this. One problem lies with the people who serve the lawsuit on the defendants. These people are known as process servers. They have a financial incentive to serve improperly or even not serve at all. In these situations the defendant never knows they have a court case and they will almost certainly lose automatically.

The Solution:

The program will check the pre built database of civil cases each night. Find defendants in those zip codes at risk who the court claims have been served. The program will then connect through API to a company who will mail a post card to the defendant. The postcard contains their case number, who is suing them, when/where their court date is, and resources to call if they need legal help. The post card only costs 70 cents to send and with a grant of just a few thousands dollars we could inform everyone in those zip codes of their court date.

Measurable:

The program does have measurable analytics because we can compare the rate of default judgments for people who receive the post card versus those who didn't.

Test It!:

The program will run entirely on the back end without a user interface. However, to demonstrate the program and see what the generated post card looks like we have built a user interface at https://cluesearch.org/Postcard/.

Post Card:

The program will then send a post card to the defendant with information on

  • Who is suing them
  • Case Number
  • When their court date is
  • What time their court date is
  • Where the court house is
  • Information on how to get help.

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