ODGA began the Civil Court Data Initiative in 2019 to systematically collect civil court records to fill this critical knowledge gap. Currently, the US public does not know how many people lose their homes or livelihoods because they appear in court without an attorney, nor how often low-income Americans face multiple civil legal issues simultaneously, such as eviction and domestic violence.
ODGA’s initiative is the only national effort to collect and clean multi-state case records across numerous civil legal issues at such a large scale. ODGA leverages cloud technology to collect and convert civil court records into a powerful database that allows ODGA to respond quickly and efficiently to requests from legal aid providers, academic researchers, and other LSC stakeholders.
LSC’s software collects tens of thousands of cases on a daily basis from over 900 counties in 20 states, resulting in a database containing over 20 million civil cases filed since 2016. This dataset covers over 30% of the US population. ODGA geocodes addresses in the court records to identify the concentration of civil legal issues in low-income communities to understand disparities in the civil justice system. ODGA is developing web applications, such as an eviction tracker, to deliver analytics about legal needs to legal aid providers and other audiences, with a focus on how data can be used to promote a just recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
ODGA aims to ultimately integrate data from all U.S. states and territories into its database to monitor the civil legal issues that most impact low-income Americans.