EDWARDSVILLE — In the next few months, Madison County Circuit Clerk Tom McRae plans to begin texting people scheduled to appear in Traffic Court.
McRae outlined the plan Friday at the Madison County Board’s Judiciary Committee meeting.
“We’re going to initiate a text messaging program similar to what people are familiar with, with their dentist or doctor’s offices, to remind people of their court appearance,” he said. “Initially I think we’re going to start off in traffic court, but it could apply to other dockets as well.”
A typical traffic court docket — the largest in the county’s court system — will have 300 or more people set to appear.
“Maybe a third of those ultimately appear,” McRae said. “So we do a lot of work and a lot of preparation for people who don’t show.”
One technical issue is obtaining the cell numbers to send the texts. Typically traffic tickets do not have that information.
“One of the bigger challenges right now is capturing their cell numbers to send those reminders,” McRae said. “That is a barrier we’re trying to work through.”
He added it would take “a month or so” to initiate the program, but he plans to have it going by the first of next year.
“We’re excited about it,” he said. “We’re working to bring technology into the court system in all facets and make it easier for the citizens of Madison County.”
The committee on Friday also approved several spending requests from the circuit court, including the purchase, delivery and assembly of 99 new chairs for the Jury Assembly Room.
Chief Judge William Mudge said 99 chairs are needed because they had already purchased one.
“We bought one as a sample to see if it worked out,” he said, adding one of the reasons for having them pre-assembled is they were “difficult” to put together.
The new chairs are easier to clean, a concern because of COVID. Chairs now in the Madison County Courthouse will be moved to the Criminal Justice Center.