Hamilton County blazes trail with court e-filing system

Hamilton County began blazing an electronic trail for other Indiana counties in July, allowing certain kinds cases in its courts system to be filed electronically. This fall, the courts transitioned all case types to the new process.

Since e-filing launched in the summer, 800 users have registered with the system and 4,500 documents have been filed. Hamilton is the first county to transition to e-filing under the state's initiative announced in May 2014.

Hamilton County Superior Court Judge William Hughes said the rollout has made processing cases much more efficient. Prior to e-filing, one case file had to physically move through several offices and floors in the courthouse, which Hughes said made it easier to misplace related documents.

“Documents don’t tend to get lost in digital files,” Hughes said.

At the same time the county introduced e-filing, court staff started to scan paper filings it still was receiving and use a new task manager application.

“That was a major cultural change,” Hughes said.

The state is covering the expenses for the e-filing system, which is powered through Plano, Texas-based Tyler Technologies Inc. It will cost the state $5 million annually once fully implemented for all counties.

The system is free for users outside the courthouse, who in addition to filing electronically are able to access cases in the system remotely. Independent service providers could offer them additional options for e-filing that the “bare bones system” offered through the state does not, Hughes said.

“It doesn’t have the bells and whistles, but it has all the basics that you need to do a filing without going to the courthouse,” said Donna Edgar, a consultant for the Indiana Supreme Court.

Richmond-based Green Filing became the first certified service provider by the Indiana Supreme Court last month. For users outside of court employees, It offers support 24 hours a day, email notifications for accepted filings, activity reports and case activity summaries. A “basic” account is $29 per month and allows up to 50 filings and unlimited users.

“We expect two others to be certified soon,” Hughes said. “We’re really looking forward to it.”

E-filing is expected to be in all state court systems by the end of 2018.

“We’ll get to the point where you’ll be able to look at cases online from wherever you are,” Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David said. “We’re very excited about where this is going to take Indiana.”

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