UX Research and UI Design | System for Judges and Clerks   

Team Members: Aggie Tutia, Whitney Jenich, Anmol Anubhai

My Role: Conducting User Research (Semi structured Interviews, Cognitive Walkthroughs and 'In-City Intervention'), Prototyping, Designing Interaction Flow Diagrams and User Interface Design

Mentors: Michael Smith, Adi Azulay

Course Name: Ideation Studio

Project Duration: Sept 2017 - Dec 2017

Problem Statement

How might we make the municipal court system equal and efficient for all individuals within the city?

Research Methods

  • Semi-Structured Interviews (Phone Calls & In Person) and Cognitive Walkthroughs (Using Paper Prototypes) with law clerks, law librarians, judges and lawyers
  • 'In-City Intervention' to understand how people react to feedback

Secondary Research | Smart City

We began by first studying Smart cities and the current problems that they face. We wanted our design problem to focus within the “Government, management, and administration” scope. The problem had to in some capacity impact the citizen. We learnt the following points:

Social Science Computer Review

  • No current assessment to holistically measure a smart city
  • Eight components of a smart city (Table 1)

IEEE Xplore

  • “a smart city can effectively process networked information to improve outcomes on any aspect of city operations”
  • Citizens are “an active and fundamental role in improving the urban ecosystem and addressing its challenges”

Microsoft CityNext

  • Microsoft Azure replaced Tel Aviv’s previous IT System to allow city workers to spend less time on administrative issues and more so on projects benefiting the city

Secondary Research | Behavioral Change 

We learnt that change is a continually process that requires preparation, motivators, simplicity and prompts to be enacted. How we enact that change should not hamper the independence of the individual. We studied the following:

Transtheoretical Model notes that behavior changes over time rather than a singular event 

  • Stages of Change cycles through five stages from not ready for any change to enacting the change and maintaining the new habit against relapse

The Fogg Behavior Model requires motivation, ability and trigger for to converge 

  • Three core motivators with two sides
    • Pleasure/Pain
    • Hope/Fair
    • Social Acceptance/Rejection
  • Ability focuses on making the target behavior easier to achieve
  • Three types of triggers/call to actions/prompts/cues
    • Facilitator: high motivation, hard to do (ex: FAFSA form)
    • Signal: easy to do, high motivation (ex: log in to email)
    • Spark: easy to do, low motivation (ex: sign up for newsletter)

We then focussed on studying the problems that Social Justice, Municipal Courts and Judges face. We learnt the following:

Focused Secondary Research | Social Justice

  • Citizens of developing countries unaware of cross border trader laws 
  • Citizens struggle with the legalities of starting their own business 
  • Corruption of DNA/forensic methods 
    • Results depend on a number of parameters
      • Competency of the examiner
      • Process of collecting and conserving samples
      • Avoidance of contamination
  • False positive error rates observed to be high in the following as well: 
    • Spectrographic voice evidence
    • Handwriting error rates
    • Bite marks
  • Police abuse causes unrest among citizens 
  • Consumer Courts have an insufficient number of benches to hear cases 
  • Prisoners under trial may spend more time in prison waiting for their decision than the actual term itself 
  • The Indian Judicial System has no direct interaction with the society leading to misunderstanding and fake news 
  • Low reporting of cases by journalists in under-reported areas 

Secondary Research | Municipal Courts


  • Bail systems presume that the accused is guilty until proven innocent, instead of upholding the vice versa 
  • Bails are set high for people of lower income resulting in people losing their jobs, families, etc. while awaiting trial 
  • Facilities and resources are depleted due to the overcrowded jails 
  • Risk Factor algorithms that are being used are controversial and being questioned for racial bias 
  • There is no transparency with the risk factor algorithm


  • People available and willing for jury duty is at an all time low
  • The Voir Dire process has become an artful process where lawyers and consultant firms create a more biased and swayed jury that will be sympathetic to their side
  • Historically there has been a problem with producing diverse juries
  • The accused from a lower income have higher barriers in accessing the same type of resources that one from a higher income can, facilitating the vicious cycle of imprisonment and poverty
  • Both implicit and explicit bias play factor in jury decisions

Secondary Research | Judges

  • In a 2009 research study, 1,000 court rulings made by nine different judges was documented 
    • During the morning: Prisoners were 65% more likely to receive parole
    • Right before lunch: Prisoners were <10% likely
    • After breaks: Rate returned to 65%
  • Decision Fatigue: The deterioration of the decision making process due to mental fatigue after long sessions of decisive reasoning
  • Judges come with a set of implicit bias’ and those bias’ can be problematic when attempting to judge equitably 
  • Current solution is to enact mindfulness, meditation, and check-ins with yourself and your decisions to remedy this problem 

After reading about our problem space and understanding it better, we refined our problem statement to be:

'In parole cases, the decision making process of judges is inconsistent throughout the day based on personal factors. We aim to minimize decision fatigue and implicit bias to aid judges in delivering more consistent rulings.'

We then decided to do an 'in-city intervention' to learn about how people react to constructive feedback in order to better understand how we could design a solution that could give constructive feedback to judges without it sounding condescending in any way. Our goal was to design a solution that could effortlessly blend into their lives and help them by giving them meaningful feedback.

In-City Intervention | 'Mirror Mirror on the wall!'

We set up a mirror with a poster next to in multiple locations in the city such as parks and streets. We designed four different posters for this activity. The goal was to see if readers change their posture after reading these posters. Each of the four posters focussed on giving feedback in a unique way. We kept changing the poster every twenty minutes. We observed from a distance and noted readers' responses to each of the four posters.

  • The first poster read 'Slouching doesn't look good on you.'
  • The second poster read 'Good Posture increases confidence and energy.'
  • The third poster gave the reader information on different postures using images
  • The fourth poster gave the reader accurate statistics and highlighted the negative impacts that bad posture can have on their health (using statistics)

Below you can see some images from our 'in-city intervention' research exercise.

We observed from a distance. We also talked to some of our viewers and got an opportunity to better understand their reactions to our posters.

'In-city Intervention' | Learnings

  • People are more likely to change their behavior if they already are affected by the problem at hand. (ie, don’t fix it unless it’s broken.)
  • It’s beneficial to disrupt the monotony of daily life to realign behaviors to desired values and priorities.
  • Literal (in our case) or figurative self-reflection with immediate feedback was found to have profound effect on people who passed by. Seeing improvement in real-time is important for maintaining behavioral change.  
  • Direct feedback is better received in written format, though verbal feedback could have a better overall effect on the individual.

After our in-city intervention, we focussed on conducting semi-structured interviews with judges, law librarians, lawyers and court clerks. Some of our semi structured interview questions for the judges are as stated below.

Semi Structured Interview Questions | Judges 

  • What type cases (criminal or civil) do you mostly focus on?
  • How many cases do you hear per day?
  • What do you do to prepare for cases?
    • Are checklists utilized?
  • Who helps you prepare and what are their roles?
  • What apps and software programs do you use when performing your job?
    • What do you like and not like about them?
  • How do you communicate with the attorneys on cases?
    • What are some of the most pervasive problems related to communicating to attorneys?
  • How do you communicate with the court coordinator?
  • What could help the current communication system be more efficient?



  • Pre-Trial
  • Trial Court
  • Appeals Court
  • Supreme Court


  • Criminal: government (prosecutor) sues the defendant
    • EX: DUI, homicide, battery, etc.
  • Civil: plaintiff files motion against the defendant
    • EX: Divorce, intellectual property, defamation


  • Attorneys deliberately do not file evidence
  • Plaintiff attorneys and defense attorneys must speak to the Judge while the other is present (physically or digitally)
    • If they fail to do so, the case can be thrown out


  • Flexibility in changing status of case
  • Transparency in case history
  • Communication  judicial regulation



  • Judges assign cases to clerks or clerks decide amongst themselves who gets what case
  • Clerks assist in scheduling
    • A mistake could cause the Judge to miss an appointment/hearing/trial
  • 4-5 clerks per judge
  • 9-10 clerks per Supreme Court judge


  • Attorneys assign cases to paralegals
    • Paralegals are typically better informed about certain cases than lawyers
  • Paralegals work on lawyers’ schedules
    • A mistake could cause the lawyer to miss a hearing leading to him being punished


  • Allow scheduling to be done by clerks and paralegals
  • Provide clerks and paralegals access to cases 



  • Implementation
  • “The clerk can do that”
  • Integration of multiple systems


  • Interconnectivity and job efficiency

“Legal research, circulating drafts, accessing documents are all definitely sped up by my access to technology, but that said, it can be information and communication overload, which in turn slows things down.” - Ann Kotze


  • Prioritize types of communication
  • Aid not replace clerks 

We realized that the municipal court structure is as shown below:

The court clerk assigns multiple cases to judges and then every judge in turn assigns these cases to law clerks.


We built affinity boards and did thematic analysis after which we came up with the following personas:

After doing so, we ideated and sketched out multiple different solutions. Some of them are as shown below:

Final Concept | 'Create Synergy'

Problem Statement: Lack of communication between judges, lawyers and court coordinators can often lead to confusion and inefficient usage of time. We aim to streamline communication to help prioritize the level of care and time spent on each case.

Solution Proposed: We designed a system for judges and clerks using which they can enter as well as access details about all their ongoing cases. They can schedule as well as track their appointments and daily tasks. 

We intend to help them be more efficient in their task management. We intend to make it simpler for judges, court clerks and law clerks to stay well informed about their on going cases. This system aims to help them work in sync while significantly bringing down the chances of miscommunication or loss of information. 

The final storyboard that I made is as shown below:

We made multiple paper prototypes and did 'cognitive walkthroughs' with law clerks as well as court clerks in order to get their feedback on the same. Given below is a short video that takes you through the paper prototype that I made for the same.

After refining our paper prototypes, I designed our interaction flow charts. They are as shown below:

We then designed our final interfaces. You can see our final User Interfaces below!

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