Linn County courts go "live" Tuesday as all new criminal and traffic cases are scanned and filed electronically.
The clerks, judges, attorneys and other court staff went through Electronic Document Management System training last month and the clerks have already scanned more than 40 pending cases, Carroll Edmondson, court administrator, said Monday. All existing cases won't be scanned in but many pending cases or at least the new documents of those pending cases will be scanned in the system.
Edmondson said because of the volume of cases the process is divided up in three phases with the criminal and traffic divisions going first followed by civil which will be live April 15 and the juvenile cases May 6. There were more than 45,000 cases filed last year in Linn.
A few of the counties across the state started with EDMS in 2010 and more counties have been added over the years. There are 51 counties online so far, and all of the 99 counties will be online by 2015.
The public wanting to access files and to print documents accessible to the public can use designated computers at the Linn County Courthouse in the criminal and traffic areas. The clerks will assist members of public.
Attorneys will have the ability to scan in documents and submit them directly to the system. Only parties to the cases can print the records from the internet. The clerks will review the documents and approve them for entry.
According to state judicial officials, the paperless system will save time, storage and provide overall convenience to attorneys and other parties who can access the files and scan documents at any time of the day or night online. It will also be convenient for judges who travel to more than one county and they will now be able to access files from any location.
Edmondson is hoping for a smooth transition but admits there will likely be "bugs" to work out and there will be a learning curve for everyone.
"We've been told that Iowa is the only state that will have all cases filed electronically," Edmondson said. "Some have only done civil but we are doing all the cases."
Edmondson said there will still be paper files because the majority of the existing cases will remain in paper version but any new filings of the older cases will only be available electronically.Johnson County courts will start the electronic process in May and those criminal cases will go live June 17.