SAN ANTONIO – Milk, check. Bread, check. Pay traffic ticket.... pretty soon, you can check that off the grocery list, too.
Municipal Court unveiled its new court kiosks that will be tested at a handful of HEBs and later installed throughout the city.
Judges say no other city in the country is using this video technology, and it will make the process more convenient.
Court clerks say the average speeding ticket costs $150 and your time.
Most people have to take off from work, drive downtown – which could take 45 minutes, pay for parking, go through security, then wait to see the judge.
Judges say with the kiosks, people can skip those steps and pound the gavel when they’re ready.
Courtroom staff showed News 4 WOAI how the video chat puts people face-to-face with a clerk.
The clerk screens the case then brings the judge into the online conversation.
Hon. Alfredo Tavera says his virtual courtroom is just as real as the one he’s sitting in, just more convenient.
"We have to use whatever technology's there and we have to make it easier for our citizens,” Hon. Tavera says.
Presiding Judge John Bull says anyone who knows how to use an ATM will be able to work the kiosk.
"What we tried to do is to take away a lot of having to read a lot of stuff,” Hon. Bull says. “The whole key was to get you to talk to someone immediately at the court."
The touch screen and the judge walk defendants through the legal process, their rights and payment options. The resulting paperwork is delivered through email or regular mail.
Municipal Court plans to add more kiosks at grocery stores around town as interest grows.
"We kind of refer to ourselves as the People's Court because a large percentage of what we deal with over here are pro se defendants,” Hon. Bull says. "They're representing themselves. They don't have a lawyer representing them. And most of them want to talk to a judge.
He says they’re using a touch screen to maintain a human touch.