Washington Courts: Press Release Detail
King County Superior Court to be honored ThursdayMarch 05, 2008
FROM: Lorrie Thompson
The King County Superior Court Clerk’s Office will be honored Thursday by the King County Council’s Law, Justice and Human Services Committee for its nationally recognized Electronic Case Records (ECR) program.
The Court Clerk’s Office was recognized late last year as a “2007 Innovation in American Government” winner by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation, which is based at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. The Clerk’s Office will receive a $100,000 award for the honor, which will be used to share information with other courts and agencies who are interested in establishing electronic records systems.
The County Council and the Council’s Law, Justice and Human Services Committee have encouraged efforts to increase the efficiency of the courts while reducing cost. With the success of the ECR project in Superior Court, the Council directed funds to expand the program into King County District Court.
“I am proud that King County is a model for bringing technology to the court system,” said King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who chairs the Law, Justice and Human Services Committee. “This project simplifies access to legal records, saves money, and serves the cause of justice. Computerized records are an important step in streamlining court procedures and making records available to all involved parties. This concept is exactly what technology should be used to accomplish.”
King County’s ECR system was recognized nationally as a cost-effective solution for addressing the cumbersome paper-based court record storage and retrieval process. The court began a phased roll-out of its ECR program in 2000, working closely with judges, attorneys and staff members to eliminate all paper records. This included converting all paper records into electronic files, implementing electronic filing, and enabling online access to records.
Since its inception in 2000, King County Superior Court has reported more than $5 million in savings due to operational efficiencies.
“We are so delighted with this national recognition,” said Barb Miner, King County’s Superior Court Clerk. “With the ECR system, we are more efficient and we are able to serve the court, litigants and the public better than before. We hope that our system will help courts and government agencies throughout the country in the coming years.”
As the thirteenth most populous county in the country, the King County Superior Court Clerk’s office receives 8,000 daily filings for both criminal and civil cases through the work of thousands of attorneys, litigants, and more than 60 judicial officers.
Benefits of the ECR program include:
· Ease of Access: Judges, clerks, attorneys, court commissioners and sheriffs can instantaneously access or file electronic court records at any time without going to
the Clerk’s office. Judges review court records electronically while on the bench.
· Multiple Users: Unlike the previous paper-based process, multiple parties can access court records simultaneously, eliminating frustrations over checked-out or missing files.
· Security: Issues of document defacement and lost or stolen files are no longer a problem under the program’s electronic document platform. The system’s rule-based credentialing ensures only authorized users have access to sealed court records. In the event of a system crash, ECR’s built in back up platform prevents data loss.
King County will use the grant funds to make information on ECR available to any courts or agencies who might want to create their own program. This will include creating a documentary, presenting information at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, creating an online library of key ECR documents, creating printed materials for distribution, and hosting two or more conferences.
CONTACTS: Barb Miner, King County Superior Court 206-296-7838; Kate Hoagland, Ash Institute 617-495-4347; Al Sanders, Communications Specialist, Metropolitan King County Council, 206-296-1685.
Note: To see King County’s ECR system in action, a two-minute video news release can be found online at the following direct address: http://www.divshare.com/download/2586098-0a1
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