A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

We are here today to announce that the First Judicial District is currently developing a criminal electronic document management system, with an expected date of implementation of September 2, 2011, and an electronic filing system, with an expected date of production of April 2, 2012. As you know, these programs and processes are long overdue.

The electronic document management system will ultimately replace the “official” Clerk of Courts paper record. There are numerous benefits which will be realized almost immediately by the Court, the Bar, and the public with the implementation of electronic documents. Two of the biggest benefits are cost savings and effective case management. As many of you may know, or may have experienced first hand, cases scheduled for almost any event in a criminal courtroom hinge upon the availability and accuracy of the court file. Many court events have been continued due to the lack of a court file at the time of the hearing. Oftentimes, duplicate files are created in the absence of the original file. Additionally, untold hours are wasted over the course of a year searching for “misplaced” court files. File search requests by the public and other agencies will no longer need to be delayed indefinitely due to the unavailability of a file that has been transmitted to an appellate court or the federal court system. With the availability of electronic documents at the Court’s fingertips, we will drastically reduce our operating costs and increase efficiency.

Other benefits of an electronic document management system include the execution of stricter security for the Court’s files and documents, which will aid the Clerk of Courts in performing its legislatively imposed duty to maintain the integrity of the official court file. In order to provide continuity of operations in the event of a disaster, an electronic document management system will provide for data backup and offsite electronic storage.

Utilizing barcode recognition software and high speed scanners, the FJD will begin creating the electronic document management system by scanning all documents currently filed over the counter, as well as all paperwork and documents created as a result of a hearing or other court event.

Thereafter, in April 2012 with the implementation of the electronic filing system the electronic record will be created immediately upon filing.

As you can see, the FJD is committed to proceeding on the path to a paperless court. Having realized many benefits and much success in other divisions of the court, including national recognition of the Civil Division’s e-filing and case management systems, we will endeavor to achieve that same success in the Criminal Division.

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