Many courts across the country are moving to a paperless system in an effort to save money and improve efficiency. With e-filing, the picture has been changing dramatically in many courts. Courts are moving to a system in which documents are submitted electronically, file rooms are disappearing and the judicial system is going paperless. Filing court records electronically makes it easier for staffs and attorneys and also reduces the need for storage space.
Fillmore County Court has implemented a new, online filing system from November 9. This change is following the initiative by Minnesota Judicial Branch. The intention behind this move is to provide an electronic information environment and also enable them to access court information at a convenient time. According to Court administrator Jim Attwood, Minnesota Court will not accept paper documents after July 1, 2016.
Hennepin and Ramsay counties started converting all their files to the new e-filing system, which started two years ago, and Fillmore County and 10 other counties will join this new system and will accept only e- filing from Nov 9. Attwood stated that this method is a more time saving and efficient option and also makes the court process a lot quicker than the traditional system.
In the new system, the documents will be managed and imaged from existing files and there will be no hard copies. Once the documents are digitized, the case will be displayed for the judge. The files submitted to the court will be in PDF format. This enables judges to review and annotate before or even during hearing without any paper copies. The judge can also sign electronically. This initiative will provide access to public images or documents at court terminals state-wide. One can also use personal devices to access these documents through public Wi-fi.
With this new system, the court administration gains several benefits:
- Reduced data entry, scanning and receipting of fees
- Case files can be reviewed and accessed from anywhere and this saves time
- Reduces court trips to the court house for filing
- Access court records from outside the court house
- Reduces cost of paper
- Increased speed of service
- Efficient communication and client satisfaction
Advantages to the Bar
E-filing program of the Court offers numerous benefits to the members of the Bar Association
- It reduces the need for legal documents to be delivered between the law firm and clerk’s office
- Provides immediate access to filing forms, thus providing the opportunity for all counsel to be fully aware of the documents which have been filed with the county clerk
- Prevents the possible loss of information
- Enhances confidential records security
- Reduces storage space and eliminates the need for paper and ensures consistency in the records of both law firm and clerk’s office
- Provides easy and simultaneous access to court files from anywhere
- Simplifies court processes including appeals, and attorneys can assign specific documents as part of an appeal and transmit them electronically to the appellate court