Today, e-filing of court records is becoming popular with increasing awareness of its benefits. All pleadings and papers filed by attorneys in civil, probate, and domestic cases can be filed electronically to make the system more efficient and productive.
Recently, it was reported that the Supreme Court of Texas had mandated the electronic filing of all civil cases, including family and probate cases by attorneys in appellate courts. All non-juvenile civil cases, including family and probate cases in district courts, statutory county courts, constitutional courts, and statutory probate courts are also to be included in the process of digitization.
Hill County of Texas is moving along with the Texas Supreme Court mandate and is preparing to file civil process papers in electronic format. The high court has allowed the mandate to be phased over a two-and-a-half year period, based on a county’s population. Hill County will reach a population of over 20,000 in January 2016 and they are given time till July 2016 to get online.
The schedule for e-filing in Texas, according to county population is as follows:
- Courts in Counties with a population of 500,000 or more – January 1,2014
- Courts in counties with a population of 200,000 to 499,999 – July 1,2014
- Courts in counties with a population of 100,000 to 199,999 – January 1,2015
- Courts in counties with a population of 50,000 to 99,999 – July 1,2015
- Courts in counties with a population of 20,000 to 49,999 – January 1,2016
- Courts in counties with a population less than 20,000 – July1, 2016
Attorneys Associating with Electronic Filing Service Provider (EFSP)
Attorneys wishing to file court documents electronically can visit the portal, www.efiletexas.gov, where they can select a certified electronic filing service provider (EFSP). EFSP delivers the documents to the court after checking them for completeness and calculating filing fees and court costs. The clerk evaluates the filings to accept them, or returns them for corrections.
The estimates from state officials reveal that the program will eliminate over 25 million pages of documents this year alone. Paper documents available within the court are scanned and indexed to create a manageable record keeping system. They are still kept as such during the transition phase.
Why Implement an E-filing System?
Implementing an e-filing system to access court records is expected to improve efficiency for court clerks and attorneys. It can considerably reduce the time and effort invested in document management helping in easy access of files available across courts, and will be able to serve other registered users electronically.
- Reduces foot traffic in courthouse offices
- More cost-effective than paper-based file storage system
- The need for physical handling of records will be considerably reduced
- Lessens the delays in retrieval of case records
- Eliminates geographic barriers
- Reduces chances of lost records
- Reduces the requirements for physical storage space
The state officials anticipate completing the electronic documentation of court records within the next two years. Under the existing system, civil case records are delivered to the district clerk’s office. The original and copies (generally two) submitted, will be scanned by an employee. Anyhow, the office has prepared to accept e-files, but won’t go online until the district clerk is ready.