The Administrative Office of the Courts introduced eFiling to Kentucky state courts this week by accepting the first electronic case filings at its test site in the office of Franklin County Circuit Court Clerk Sally Jump in Frankfort. The first case was filed Monday, Dec. 16, with a total of six cases filed as of Wednesday, December 18, 2013.
“This week’s electronic filings were the critical first step in providing eFiling to the legal community,” Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. said. “Moving from a paper-based environment to one that is primarily electronic will transform the way Kentucky courts do business. The cost savings to the court system will be substantial and the state’s entire legal system will become more efficient when we process court cases electronically.”
Franklin County is a proof-of-concept site, which means that limited functions are being tested before the full eFiling program is rolled out in the pilot phase. The site will initially process only civil cases filed in Circuit Court. The Franklin County Office of Circuit Court Clerk is located in the new Franklin County Judicial Center at 222 St. Clair St. in Frankfort.
The AOC trained more than 10 attorneys from Franklin County to take part in this early testing.
“This launch begins a two-year process that should see eFiling in all 120 counties by the end of 2015,” AOC Director Laurie K. Dudgeon said. “I’m looking forward to Kentucky catching up with the federal courts and the other state courts that have been providing this valuable service for years.”
The proof-of-concept stage will prepare the AOC to set up pilot sites in a dozen or more Kentucky counties in 2014. The AOC will test all eFiling functions in the pilot counties for several months before beginning to implement the system statewide.
eFiling is part of the Judicial Branch’s comprehensive, multiyear eCourt program. The goal is to update Kentucky’s aging court technology to meet the demands on the court system and enable the courts to stay current with the mainstream of law and commerce.
The eCourt program will also upgrade the court system’s technology infrastructure (hardware and software), replace its case management systems for the trial and appellate courts, and acquire a document management system that will electronically store and index court documents.
The Judicial Branch cleared a major hurdle on its eCourt program in March 2013 when it received legislative approval to issue bonds to fund a new case management system. Resolving the funding issue jump-started the eFiling process and made it possible to begin the proof-of-concept testing in Franklin County by the end of 2013.
This week’s eFiling milestone followed quickly on the heels of another major court technology rollout. In March 2013, the AOC launched CourtNet 2.0, which replaced the outdated CourtNet application and provides real-time, online access to Kentucky court case information. CourtNet 2.0 was initially offered to members of the Kentucky Bar Association and will be made available to other groups in the coming months. For more about CourtNet 2.0, see the KBA’s Bench & Bar, May 2013, pages 54-55.
Kentucky Judicial Branch
The AOC is the operations arm of the state court system. The AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget and supports the activities of nearly 3,300 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. The chief justice of Kentucky is the administrative head of the court system and is responsible for its operation.