Online court tool that reduces disparities, virus spread wins annual U-M innovation award

By | September 1, 2020
JJ Prescott
(Michigan News)

For developing technology that’s helping to democratize the justice system while decreasing the spread of COVID-19, U-M law professor J.J. Prescott has earned this year’s Distinguished University Innovator Award. Prescott launched the U-M Online Court Project years ago to design and build technology to help people resolve minor disputes with the government and courts online and without the need to hire an attorney.

This technology went on to become the basis for Matterhorn, a free platform made available by courts that allows vulnerable litigants of all sorts to resolve their legal cases entirely online. Since its launch in 2014, the tool has has facilitated the resolution of more than 100,000 cases in more than 100 courts across 16 states. It’s believed to be the first technology of its kind in U.S. courts.

Prescott will receive the award Sept. 21 at the 20th Celebrate Invention, an annual event that recognizes entrepreneurship and inventions from U-M researchers. The Distinguished University Innovator Award honors faculty who have developed transformative ideas, processes or technologies and shepherded them to market.