E-file mandate goes in to effect Oct. 1

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Electronic filling for all civil cases in Pike County will become mandatory as of October 1. The mandate was handed down by the state supreme court and signed off on by Chief Justice Charles Malone.

In response to the mandate, Pike Count Circuit Clerk Jamie Scarbrough called a meeting for area attorneys to ask questions about the new system.

The new system will do away with paper copies of court records and will go strictly to electronic files. The public will still have access to view the court filings through the State Judicial Information System’s website alacourt.gov.

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“If we have a paper file, the public will be allowed to view that,” said Scarbrough. “But there will also be a computer set up for the public to view the electronic file as well.”

One Troy area lawyer believes that the new system will allow attorneys to carry around less baggage, and be more versatile.

“Instead of carrying around a stack of paper, we can put all our files on a jump drive and use our computers,” said Nickie Bateman, who practices out of her own office. “There will be some headaches at the start, but will be beneficial in the long run.”

Scarbrough said that traffic cases are almost entirely paperless, and that moving the civil cases to electronic will not be a huge change for the staff.

The Pike County Circuit Clerk office has been e-filing documents for the past few years, and will not keep paper copies of court proceedings.

“We are maintaining two systems right now,” said Scarbrough. “We have an electronic file and a paper file, the only change is that beginning October 1st we will not have the paper file.”

Malcolm McSwean, an attorney at Cervera, Ralph and Reeves, said that the new mandate takes a burden off the staff at the circuit clerk’s office.

“It doesn’t take many files to fill up a filing cabinet,” said McSwean. “The e-file system lightens the load on Jamie and her staff. Most offices have been using the system for years; it is just that we have to upload more to it.”

The new mandate only affects civil cases, but the plans are in motion to convert criminal files to electronic filing as well. Scarbrough said that courthouse staffs around the stat are in need of a technology upgrade before the criminal cases can be done strictly with e-filing.