Smith said Indiana ideally could move to a system limited to 30 days for filing appellate transcripts, allowing requests for extensions in cases where more time is warranted, such as lengthy trials or complicated proceedings. “While I think as a practitioner I and my clients would love 30 days, initially, if the technology is improved, we’d be happy if they cut it down to 60 days.”
Bradford said the pilots also acknowledge court personnel have ever-growing duties, and the effort to expedite transcripts will give them the assistance they need to meet the task by hiring one or more private transcription services.
Electronic record filing also would streamline the appellate process, Bradford said.
“We constantly have conversations here on our court about what it would be like to do that,” he said of receiving the appellate record electronically or on a CD. “This will be an opportunity for our judges to do it and see how they like it.”
Smith said Indiana Appellate Rule 30 already allows electronic filing, but “nobody does it.” It’s not a requirement, and all parties must agree to it.
The appellate section of the ISBA has not opposed proposals that would require electronic filings in Indiana appellate courts, she said. Venues such as the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals already have such requirements.
The court pilot projects appear to be moving incrementally toward ways of doing business that embrace technology that will become prevalent, if not standard, in the future, Smith said.
“It’s preparing people. Ultimately, you’re going to have electronic filing at every level, I think,” she added.
Indiana Chief Justice Brent Dickson said the video record, expedited transcripts and e-filing initiatives could have wider impact on Indiana courts in time. He said the pilots as a whole are nothing particularly new or alarming.
“We’ve always been concerned about resolving appeals as quickly as possible. We know that it’s a burden upon litigants to have to wait for decisions, and one of the most time-consuming elements is the time it takes to prepare a record,” Dickson said.
Indiana Supreme Court spokesperson Kathryn Dolan said some logistics of the pilots still are being worked out. Those include which courts will be selected to expedite transcripts and file electronically, and decisions should be made soon. The goal is to get the projects implemented in the courts by Aug. 1.
The courts also will be looking for reaction to the projects.
“We are working on a survey for judges, law clerks, clerk of the court staff, and lawyers who will be involved with the pilot project. We will also solicit input from these individuals independent of the survey,” Dolan said.
“We’re interested to see the results,” Dickson said. “We’re keeping an open mind and hope the leaders working on these various projects will produce some recommendations that will make a difference in our ability to provide swifter and more accurate justice.”•