Chief Justice announces new electronic system in courts;
All 120 counties expected to be on efile system by end of year…
The Chief Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court was the featured speaker on Wednesday at the Christian County Justice Center to announce a new e-filing system to speed up the judicial process.
“This is the first launch after we completed the pilot program,” said Chief Justice John D. Minton. “I notice there’s a lot of tweeting going on in Hopkinsville, and if this isn’t the center of the computer universe, you can see it from here.”
“Thousands of cases are filed on paper every year,” Minton continued, “Moving now from a paper-based environment to an electronic transfer format will enhance the way the courts do business.”
The head jurist said that the Kentucky “court system will catch up with the rest of the country” while adding that clients, through their attorneys, will be able “access justice in a more efficient way.”
Christian County Chief Circuit Judge John Atkins said he remembered being “a rookie circuit judge in 1999, we had our maiden voyage of … training sessions and the first item on the first agenda was eFile.”
Atkins added that since the beginnings of the eFile system, people can now secure an electronic filing for an emergency protection order, or law enforcement can get an eWarrant after normal court hours to arrest a suspect or perform a search.
“We’ve been improving things all along,” Atkins said. “But this improvement here is going to be dramatic.”
He joked briefly about the new system.
“E-file will make me make mistakes at the speed of light,” he said while the crowd laughed. He said “the next phase of this process is e-Reversal.”
He said if a judge makes a wrong decision, Chief Justice Minton’s face would appear on the screen, hurling a lightning bolt and saying, “You did it wrong!”
Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, who is running for state attorney general, said, “I was finishing a tweet before I got up. I’m the only Twitter-verified member of the Kentucky General Assembly — I’m very proud of that — the Twitter conversation, where only truth exists.”
“I am very pleased to have supported the bonding effort in the General Assembly to help the Court of Justice make this change,” Westerfield said turning seriously. “This is a change that is long overdue.”
He noted that not all 120 Kentucky counties are on a single unified computer system but that is changing with the introduction of the new program.
A self-professed technology “nerd,” Westerfield said, “I’m probably more excited about (the system) other than the AOC staff.”
Attorneys with cases in eight counties — Christian, Crittenden, Henderson, Hopkins, McLean, Muhlenberg, Union and Webster — will be able to file cases electronically. The Administrative Office the Courts introduced the eFile system to Kentucky courts in the December 2013 update to the state’s aging court technology to meet the demands of the court system.
The eight counties were part of a pilot program and the first ones to go online, according to Minton.
All 120 Kentucky counties are expected to be initiated on the eCourt system by the end of the year.
The eCourt program will also upgrade the court system’s technology infrastructure to replace its case management system for the trial and appellate courts.
The new document management system will also store and index court records electronically.
An attorney in Louisville, for instance, can file their paperwork in a Christian County case without having to make the drive to do it in person, thus cutting down time, eliminating missed deadlines and streamlining costs.
In March 2013, the AOC launched CourtNet 2.0, which replaced the courts outdated CourtNet app and now provides real-time online access to Kentucky court case information.
By Steve Breen
Kentucky New Era