TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Florida Court Courts & Comptrollers (FCCC), The Office of State Court Administrator and the Clerks of Court Operations Corporation today announced the release of a new program that allows any individual who registers to receive alerts of upcoming criminal court events via text or email. The new system, known as E-Notify, allows defendants and any other interested parties to stay informed about upcoming court events. Initially, a pilot project provided alerts on cases filed in three counties – Orange, Okaloosa, and Nassau. The program expands statewide as of January 31, 2020.
Users can go to enotify.flcourts.org to sign up for alerts. The program was developed collaboratively by the state’s clerks of court and the state courts system.
“This program is designed to help people remember to show up for their court dates,” said Okaloosa County Clerk JD Peacock II, a member of the work group that developed the program. “That’s important for those individuals, but also for the administration of justice.”
E-Notify is designed specifically to fulfill the legislature’s direction to provide alerts to defendants in criminal cases. The system, however, is not limited to defendants and offers a valuable resource to others who may wish to be notified of case events.
“Anyone can use this service. We think members of the public with an interest in cases will find it valuable to make sure they don’t miss any hearings,” said First Judicial Circuit Judge Linda L. Nobles from Pensacola, also a member of the work group. “Others, including members of the media, now have a convenient resource as well.”
Similar programs elsewhere have shown the notification system is effective.
Studies in jurisdictions where electronic alerts have been implemented show significant reductions in “failures to appear,” or instances in which defendants miss their court events. A text-alert program in New York City both reminded defendants of their court appearances but also provided information on the consequence of failing to show up.
Failure to appear for a court event can result in a warrant being issued for the arrest of a defendant. Fewer defendants with missed court dates will reduce negative consequences both for the individuals and associated costs to the justice system.
Users who sign up for the service choose how they will get alerts – by email, text, or both – and timing of the reminders, choosing any combination of 14-day, 7-day, or day-ahead notifications. There is no limit to the number of cases users can sign up to get notifications. E-Notify allows users to manage their alert subscriptions and make changes to cases and frequency.
“Florida’s E-Notify offers better outcomes in criminal court, a convenient service for many, and improved efficiency for the entire criminal justice system. It’s just a win all around.” Peacock said.
A YouTube video: E-Notify Instructional Video – YouTube
Clerk’s Office webpage: e-Notify (alachuacounty.us)