Indiana courts are asking lawmakers to allocate an additional $5 million a year so they can implement an electronic filing system that allows litigants to submit paperwork online and gives the public free access to court records.
The e-filing plan calls for the system to be piloted in a handful of counties this year and in the state's appellate courts. Pilot counties would include one using the court's Odyssey case management system and one running a different system, The Times in Munster reported.
Supreme Court Justice Steven David and Court of Appeals Judge Paul Mathias, who are leading the e-filing effort, say it's a necessity in a digital era.
"In a Facebook world, the basic level of service that Indiana citizens expect from their government is electronic access, and e-filing will bring that level of access to Indiana's citizens and taxpayers," Mathias said.
Gov. Mike Pence did not include money for court e-filing in his proposed state budget, but he said he would leave it up to lawmakers to decide how to spend some of the $600 million in anticipated revenue he didn't allocate.
Mathias said he has received positive responses to the e-filing proposal and is hopeful that lawmakers will agree with the courts' direction.
"Those in leadership positions understand immediately that this is not the future, this is today, and this is the way that the court system can be as accessible as other branches of government and as everything else in our Internet-age lives," he said.
David and Mathias said the courts will push ahead with e-filing even if they don't get their full funding request. But they'd prefer that users not be required to pay to access records.
"Our interest is to make e-filing as widely accessible to as many entities as possible at the lowest possible cost," Mathias said. "We believe e-filing is the new basic level and the new basic responsibility of government services in the court system."
Lake County could be among the first to get full e-filing. The county has experimented with electronic court records for several years with supervision from the Supreme Court.