Digital step

7/23/2013

E-filing gaining steam as way to efficiencies.

E-filing gaining steam as way to efficiencies.

More and more transactions in daily life take place digitally — medical record-keeping, tax filing, bill paying — and the Kansas courts for some time have been seeking to join this digital revolution.

While initial implementation of an electronic court case filing system has been taking place, funding has been a stumbling block to statewide implementation. During the past legislative session, the state Supreme Court was unsuccessful in its request for $1.1 million for such an expansion.

So news that the Kansas Supreme Court has received a federal grant of more than $205,000, allowing even more counties to make the digital transition, was heartening. The federal Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant was awarded to the Supreme Court via the Kansas Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. The money will be used to pay for installation of e-filing systems in the district courts of Wyandotte, Butler, Reno, Saline, Finney and Geary counties.

Seeking out varied sources of funding is a great way to achieve these goals without tapping into state dollars. Of course, the grant dollars still come from Kansas taxpayers' pocketbooks, via the federal government.

While Chief Justice Lawton Nuss said an additional $1 million still would be needed to reach out to the rest of the state, we anticipate the time when such e-filing systems could become self-sustaining. ...

Among its benefits, e-filing is expected to reduce the time spent by court staff processing case filings; enable court clerks, judges and participants to access court files any time; reduce data entry errors and physical storage costs; and reduce or eliminate postage, delivery, photocopying and other paper-handling expenses for courts, lawyers and court users.

The Supreme Court and the Kansas Court of Appeals already are part of e-filing pilot projects, paid for by another federal grant, in addition to the district courts in Leavenworth, Douglas and Sedgwick counties. ...

Nuss said that by the end of the fiscal year, counties representing 65 percent of statewide filings would have e-filing capabilities. ...

"We are doing our best to become more efficient," Nuss said, a worthy goal at a time of shrinking budgets and reduced staff resources.

-- The Topeka Capital-Journal

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