The Kentucky court system is preparing its electronic filing system in anticipation of getting every county on board by the end of 2015.
Introduced by the Administrative Office of the Courts, the eFiling system is anticipated by court officials to bring substantial cost savings to the court system and increase the efficiency of processing cases.If implemented successfully, eFiling will achieve Kentucky Chief Justice John Minton’s goal of a “virtually paperless” case processing system.
“It will be a way for us in the long term to save costs, and we also are interested in and feel the need for the way the courts do business to be the same way that people do business in their daily lives,” Minton said. “With all the use of technology throughout the economy, commerce is now driven electronically and the court system … doesn’t need to be different.”
The system is being tested in the Franklin County Circuit Clerk’s Office, where attorneys, state agencies and court personnel agreed to be part of what is being called the proof-of-concept site, where the system is being tested on a limited basis before the full program is rolled out in other counties.
Court officials see eFiling as part of a broader effort to update the state’s court technology to meet demands placed on the court system as circuit clerk’s offices across the state attempt to manage ever-growing caseloads.
In Franklin County, only civil cases in its circuit court are being processed through the eFiling system, which went into operation Dec. 16.
At the end of the first week, six cases had been electronically filed, according to AOC spokeswoman Leigh Anne Hiatt.
The state will launch the system in about a dozen pilot counties during the second quarter of 2014. Those counties have not been determined, and Minton said he looks to have the system tested in a broad cross-section of populous and rural counties across the state with varying caseloads.
“Lots of counties have asked to be next, and we’ll try to get to them as quickly as we can,” Minton said. “We’re anxious to have these people involved … . This system has to work in 120 counties and there are a lot of variables to deal with in the state court system. We’re moving at a measured pace across the state.”
Warren County Circuit Clerk Brandi Duvall said that while eFiling is an exciting prospect that will simplify case management, her office just converted this month to an automated accounts receivable program, which keeps track of what courts are owed via computer rather than manually.
Duvall said it will take several months to convert manual bookkeeping files to the new electronic system, meaning that Warren County may not be in the best position to be a pilot county for eFiling.
“We were one of the first ones to get (the accounts receivable program) and we’ve only had it for less than a month and it’s taken some time to get used to,” Duvall said. “I’m excited about eFiling, but I just don’t know when it will be a practical time for us to do that … . I think it’s probably best to go electronic in smaller counties first and get all the kinks worked out because it’s such a big task for a county this size when we have so much documentation and so much paperwork that goes in and out on a daily basis.”
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