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Montgomery County court adds cutting-edge technology

Montgomery County has added to its online “technological arsenal” to answer the public’s questions about the county’s court day or night.

The innovation, an automated virtual assistant and chatbot, will answer many of the most frequently asked questions received by the Montgomery County Clerk of Courts Office by email and phone.

“I truly believe this tool can be used to help remove another barrier to justice for many citizens who find it difficult to contact our office during normal business hours,” said Russ Joseph, clerk of courts.

Joseph rolled out the technology called Athena last week.

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The bot — named after the Greek goddess of wisdom, law and justice — is designed to answer questions directed to the Montgomery County Municipal Courts and Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, as well as the county’s auto title branches. Athena, accessed at www.mcclerkofcourts.org, can also look up basic ticket and case information.

“Athena can answer questions from each of our five divisions,” Joseph said. “So whether it’s a question about how to title your car, what you need to get a passport or how to pay your traffic ticket, Athena should be your first stop.”

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The system was developed in-house by the clerk’s information technology staff using Microsoft Cognitive Services software. The developers gathered answers to the most common questions and then programmed the bot to answer them. Over time, Athena will use Microsoft Cognitive Services to analyze the questions it’s asked and learn answers to more questions.

The virtual assistant is also connected to the county clerk’s online public records information system. Athena can use that connection to tell users the status of a case and link them to related documents.

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The new artificial intelligence technology continues a long-standing priority of the clerk’s office to update resources when they become available, Joseph said.

“The Montgomery County Clerk of Courts Office has always been known as a leader in adopting new technology,” Joseph said. “I am proud to continue this rich tradition by adding Athena to our technological arsenal.”

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The public may also contact the Clerk of Courts Office at 937-496-7623.

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