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Webb County Towards Digital Preservation of Court Records

Digital Preservation of Court RecordsRecently, it was reported that the Supreme Court of Texas had mandated the electronic filing of all civil cases in counties. The rule is applicable to all non-juvenile civil cases including family and probate cases in district courts, statutory county courts, constitutional courts, and statutory probate courts.

As part of the move, ‘Webb County is bringing awareness to the filing community on an order signed by the Supreme Court of Texas’, a recent report says. The county is preparing for the digitization of civil case papers and documents, and is mandated to go online by July 1, 2014. The schedule of Texas Courts to go online was decided on the basis of each county’s population. For example, courts in counties with a population between 50,000 and 99,999 are scheduled to go online by July 1, 2015.

Reason for Implementing an E-Filing System in Courts

Considerable reduction in time and effort for managing documents, with improved efficiency is the prime factor that drives e-filing system in courts. The system allows court clerks and attorneys easy access of files and will reduce the foot traffic in court houses. Other potential uses of implementing an electronic filing system are:

  • Cost-effective
  • No geographic barriers
  • Reduced physical handling of records
  • Reduces the delays in retrieving case records
  • Reduces physical storage requirements
  • Systems in the office get modernized and upgraded

What Should Attorneys Do to File Documents Electronically?

Attorneys can visit the web portal, www.efiletexas.gov to file court documents in digital version. Through this portal they can select an electronic filing service provider or EFSP. It is a system that checks the court records for completeness and computes court costs and filing fees. The checked documents are evaluated by clerks to accept them or send them back for modifications or corrections.

It is estimated that the electronic filing of court records will eliminate more than 25 million paper documents a year. Paper documents available within the court are converted into digital format by scanning and indexing them in appropriate format.

Presently, the court record system of Webb County holds Official Public Records information from 1982 to present date. The county clerk’s office is moving towards digital preservation of original records by digitizing old paper records, re-indexing handwritten indexed records, recreating or restoring books, and by adding date/images into the electronic documentation system. They are continuing with the scanning of records that still remains in paper form, for better accessibility to the public.

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