Electronic Document Filing
Problem. Millions of dollars annually are spent by courts to maintain paper document filing systems. The process is inefficient and time-consuming for everyone involved. Litigants wait in line for hours to file documents, or must pay process servers to file on their behalf. Clerks spend hours intaking, sorting, filing, and transferring documents. Court files, while technically public record, are highly inaccessible and difficult to obtain - one must go to a clerk's office, request the paper file, tag documents for copying, and then wait for their order to be processed at a cost of typically around $.50 per page. In addition, it is virtually impossible to compile data and statistics from the files without expending a burdensome amount of time and resources.
Solution. Implement a universal electronic document filing system across all courts. Documents are uploaded to a public server, managed by both the judiciary and an independent third party. All files, unless otherwise sealed or confidential, are available to any member of the public for review and download at a nominal fee. Intelligence software will extract and analyze data from the documents, and make searchable statistics available to any member of the public.
Electronic document filing will have the following benefits:
- Increase fairness. Public court files will become more accessible and intelligence software can readily identify patterns of prejudice, bias, and inconsistent rulings. Analysis will help ensure consistency of decisions between courts, which will preserve the basic constitutional rights to equal protection and due process. The system will have the added benefit of reducing individual and taxpayer expenses for continued litigation and appeals caused by unjust rulings.
- Reduce expenses by millions of dollars annually for courts and litigants. Courts and litigants spend a tremendous amount of time and millions of dollars annually associated with filing paper documents: paper, ink, equipment, office supplies, mailing, and copying costs, as well as transportation expenses and lost time from work.
- Reduce misconduct. If parties, litigants, and judges know that court documents and orders are being uploaded to a searchable, public database, they are less likely to engage in misconduct or abuse the system. This will improve the efficiency of courts, reduce harm caused to citizens by misconduct, and will encourage parties to engage in mediation.
Electronic document filing can be implemented immediately, will save taxpayers millions of dollars, and will have a dramatic, positive impact on the administration of justice.