Electronic filing is transforming the way Indiana's judicial system works.
Fifty-five of the state's 92 counties have adopted mandatory electronic filing for most new criminal and civil lawsuits over the past 15 months, The Times of northwest Indiana reported. The state's appellate division has also adopted the electronic system.
The Supreme Court's Office of Court Technology says more than 2.1 million documents have been electronically filed in the state since July 1, 2016.
E-filing makes judges and lawyers more efficient and improves court services for Indiana residents, said Justice Steven David. Non-confidential court documents are also available online.
Paper documentation "all has a cost to create, to copy, to distribute, to inadvertently miss a copy here or there, to store and for how long," David said. "Whether you're a trial court judge or an attorney or party, that translates to money."
Enabling trial court judges to access documents at home on their laptop computers, review litigant filings as soon as they come in and sign routine orders, perhaps even on weekends, saves minutes here and there that add up significantly over time, David said.
Lawyers don't have to dispatch someone to the courthouse to file every single document in person. They also no longer need to lug boxes of documents from their offices to the courthouse and back every day during trials.
E-filing has been adopted quickly through the state because may counties are using the same case management system called Odyssey, said Justice Mark Massa.
The system is paid for by a $20 automated record keeping fee that's attached to every case filed in Indiana court.
"It's the best deal for counties," Massa said. "It carries with it state funding of that technology and that support, and we're getting closer and closer to that complete statewide coverage with each passing year."
The system also allows the judicial branch to generate comprehensive data about crimes, courts, dispositions, children in need of services, protection orders and other information that the legislative and executive branches need when enacting new laws, David said.
"In the old days, you might get data from one court and try to extrapolate, or determine if that court is representative of the rest of the state or not, and that's no longer the case," David said.