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Judiciary ready to move on appellate CMS, e-filing

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The state judiciary is moving forward with a plan to establish an appellate case management system, which someday could entail an e-filing system similar to what the federal courts currently have access to.

Late Friday afternoon, the Indiana Division of State Court Administration issued a public notice of contracting opportunity (PNCO) seeking proposals for an information technology system that would be put in place for the state’s appellate system. This move follows the February 2009 hiring of Indianapolis attorney Robert Rath to be the new director of appellate court technology, which was a position created in response to a National Center for State Courts study in 2007 about the Hoosier judiciary’s system.

Currently, the Indiana appellate case management system is one designed and built in the 1980s that has been gradually updated through the years, but largely remains the same. A new system would allow the courts to enter the 21st century, with the possibility of linking to the statewide case management system known as Odyssey, which is now implemented in about 50 trial courts and 21 counties throughout the state.

“This will be a major initiative for our courts over the next couple years, provided we can secure the necessary funding,” Indiana Supreme Court public information officer Kathryn Dolan wrote in a statement to Indiana Lawyer about the IT updates in recent months.

In the 27-page notice, the primary goals are to increase the appellate courts’ productivity and overall efficiency with a data-entry system that can produce real-time data validation. One component is to give litigants and attorneys the ability to file briefs and motions electronically and enable trial courts and clerks to file transcripts and records the same way online.

In previous interviews, Appellate Clerk Kevin Smith has told IL that a vision is to someday possibly have an online system similar to the Public Access to Court Electronic Records and Case Management/Electronic Case Files (PACER and CM/ECF). The path to that vision could take many forms and much is dependent on available funding and resources.

The notice discusses contractors considering phased development, where some aspects such as Tax Court filings, attorney discipline cases, or a certain type of case could be targeted initially. A launch of the project isn’t yet determined, the notice says.

Companies must submit their proposals and cost breakdowns by 4 p.m. Aug. 20. Questions and updates are due earlier that month, and the timeline following those submissions is still uncertain. The state hopes to have proposal evaluations at the end of September, the PNCO says. Interested vendors can register in advance for a pre-proposal conference set for July 22, by contacting Teresa Payne at tpayne@courts.state.in.us or (317) 233-1578. Details about the project and timeline can be found online at the state judiciary’s website.
 

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