Pella Chronicle

December 19, 2013

Court officers learn more about electronic filing

By Steve Woodhouse The Chronicle
The Pella Chronicle

---- — The Marion County District Courtroom was full of lawyers, clerks and law enforcement personnel Thursday afternoon, Dec. 12, to learn more about the state’s Electronic Data Management System (EDMS).

As we’ve reported, it is the State of Iowa’s intention to end paper filing of court documents and shift to a digital format. Marion County’s EDMS system is tentatively scheduled to come online on March 11, 2014.

Scott Ruhnke, EDMS Liaison for the Iowa Judicial Branch, led the discussion and offered to train any court officer who wanted to learn how to use the system. Each officer of the court, as well as abstractors, will be issued an identity to allow them online access to records from any computer. The Marion County Clerk of Court office will have two computer terminals available for public access to view case files.

Advantages to using the new system, according to Ruhnke, is that judges will be able to see court documents as soon as they are filed. Judicial signatures on documents will be done so electronically.

More intensive training for court officers is expected to begin on Feb. 4, 2014. An Open House is expected to take place sometime thereafter, to further educate the public about the system. Every new case will be completely filed electronically as of March 11.

Court documents can contain sensitive personal information, such as Social Security Numbers, account numbers and children’s names. This information will be redacted from the documents the public can access online, but will be available to court officers who are parties to the case. When asked about the level of security the online system has to protect the private information of the public, Ruhnke said several tests have been run. He believes that the system will be more secure for people than paper filing.

After a discussion with several people, Ruhnke held a second meeting specifically for law enforcement personnel. Paper citations, for incidents such as traffic violations, will still be written and scanned. Criminal complaints will also be written out. Clerks of Court have to see these documents before a case can be set up on the Iowa Court Information System.

Requirements already in place for law enforcement, such as the need to have documents notarized, will remain in place. Officers expressed concern that if existing requirements remain in place, scanning them into the EDMS will add more work and time to the process.

Each department, such as the Marion County Sheriff’s Office or Knoxville Police Department, will have its own account for the EDMS. The State will assign each department these accounts.

High Speed Internet access is required for EDMS. Ruhnke was asked if this will be, or has been, an issue for Iowa’s rural counties. He said it has not been a problem yet.