CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Jefferson and Marion counties will be the first two counties to implement the state Supreme Court’s new unified court filing system.
State Supreme Court Administrator Steve Canterbury said a lot of work has been taking place behind the scenes since the High Court announced the project in early August.
The pilot project will begin in 14 counties, Jefferson and Marion first. Canterbury said when it’s completed, all court records will be online and attorneys and those who represent themselves will be able to file court papers electronically and view case files.
“We’ll ask for some patience initially because we will probably have a few false starts but we think we’ll have a fairly thoroughly structured system when we roll it out in the first few counties,” Canterbury said.
The Court anticipates attorneys will be charged a fee to e-file a case in circuit clerk offices and those who want to view those electronic files will be charged a yearly rate. Canterbury said it would be cheaper than going to a circuit clerk’s office and getting paper copies of a case.
“We’re not looking to make money but we wouldn’t mind having the e-filing function paid for so it doesn’t cost anything out of tax dollars,” Canterbury said. “So we’re going to try and find the magic number. We’re hoping we can keep it under 50-dollars a month, maybe even under 30-dollars.”
Canterbury said circuit clerks are very much part of the planning process. He said eventually they won’t need as many deputy clerks because of the online system but, he said, he doesn’t believe there will be layoffs in the counties.
“It will simply be by attrition,” Canterbury predicted. “But there’s going to be so much scanning (of paper documents) that has to happen that it’s going to be some time. Typically an office like that will have someone retire in five years, it’s about five years of scanning in most of these clerk’s offices, it’s a really huge issue.”
The 14 counties chosen to have the unified filing system first include: Berkeley, Braxton, Cabell, Hampshire, Harrison, Jefferson, Lewis, Lincoln, Marion, Morgan, Ohio, Randolph, Upshur and Wood.