Casey Kennedy, director of information services for the Texas Office of Court Administration, says the Texas judiciary made several big strides in electronic filing of court documents last fiscal year.
The 2011 Annual Report for the Texas Judiciary says seven of the state’s 14 appellate courts adopted e-filing in fiscal year 2011, and the Texas Supreme Court made e-filing mandatory.
As of August 2011, 78 district and county clerks in 51 counties had implemented e-filing, representing jurisdictions that cover 75 percent of the state’s population.
Kennedy says the biggest development was the seven appellate courts’ adoption of e-filing; five or six new district and county clerks also joined the ranks of those embracing it.
He notes another significant development of 2011 came when the vendor for the statewide e-filing system at Texas.gov informed OCA it would not renew its contract to operate the system.
TexasNICUSA is the vendor for Texas.gov, according to Angela Skinner, spokeswoman for NIC Inc. Skinner emailed a statement by Erin Hutchins, general manager of Texas NICUSA, that reads in part: "Texas NICUSA appreciates the opportunity to have managed and provided upgrades to the court eFiling system over the past three years, continuing our commitment to making government interactions as efficient as possible by placing them online.”
Kennedy notes that OCA is seeking vendor proposals for a new statewide e-filing system that may have public document-retrieval features similar to PACER.gov, the federal courts’ system.
He adds that he thinks the cost of e-filing must be equal to the cost of filing paper documents before all courts will accept it. Kennedy explains that many people say e-filing is more expensive than paper filing because e-filers pay extra fees to the county, an electronic service provider and Texas.gov. He also says the e-filing “adoption rate” may increase as a “younger generation,” dependent on all things electronic, enters the judicial workforce.
-- Angela Morris