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State courts to adopt e-filing in 2015

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Indiana courts will switch to electronic filing beginning next year, according to an order issued Thursday by the Indiana Supreme Court. 

“This is really a result and a culmination of more than a decade of review and testing,” Court of Appeals Judge Paul Mathias told Indiana Lawyer. Mathias is taking a lead role in implementing e-filing and electronic service.

The Division of State Court Administration plans to begin implementing e-filing in phases starting next year. Mathias said paper filing likely will be phased out so clerks won’t be burdened with overseeing two filing methods.

 “Nearly every aspect of our lives includes electronic documents — stores send receipts via email, banks allow check deposits through a smart phone,” Chief Justice Brent Dickson said. “Now lawyers and litigants will be able to file court documents electronically. Using this technology, our courts will be more efficient and better able to administer justice without delay.”

State Court Administration soon will seek competitive bids for a single statewide e-filing manager, according to information provided by the courts. Mathias said it’s anticipated that the system will be supported by fees, and filers will have a choice of e-filing service providers that will be certified by the court.

A committee of judges, lawyers, clerks and staff drafted a proposed rule for e-filing. Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathryn Dolan said a 30-day comment period on the proposal has opened and will run through June 23.  The proposed rule and a link for comments are available on the court's website.    

Mathias said competition among market providers is expected to keep fees low, and the courts will strive to build in fee waivers and make the system accessible for indigent litigants.

Indiana’s two most populous counties, Marion and Lake, have operated pilot e-filing systems for several years since the Supreme Court granted authorization in 2006. Those pilots will continue.“The initial work demonstrates that e-filing is beneficial to litigants, lawyers, judges, clerks and their staffs,” Justice Mark Massa said.  

“We’re really excited to bring this level of connectivity” to court users, Mathias said. “It’s the same level of connectivity people have gotten used to in the last decade.”

The initiative coincides with a planned conversion of appellate courts to the state-supported Odyssey case management system now in use in courts in 48 counties. Robert Rath, director of appellate court technology, said the conversion will allow attorneys and the public to view trial and appellate case dockets on the same site.
 

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