Sunday, October 15, 2000

Clerk of Courts pioneers e-filing

        Lawyers soon will be able to file legal documents in Hamilton County courts without lugging boxes of paper to Cincinnati. Instead, they can send them over the Internet.

        Clerk of Courts Jim Cissell says he expects the system to be up by the first of the year.

        “(Cyberspace) is where life is going to be in the next few years,” Mr. Cissell said. “It just happens that we're the first office to do it in the state of Ohio.”

        Lawyers will have to register with Mr. Cissell's office to send documents.

        “To me, this is a miracle what he's doing,” Cincinnati attorney Tim Smith said. “This is the most advanced clerk's office in the world ... there's no going over there and standing in line. What could be better?”

        Initially, the system will accept electronic filings only in Common Pleas civil cases and some Domestic Relations cases. Once the bugs are worked out, it will be expanded to include felony criminal cases and all other cases.

        The electronic transmissions of the lawsuits — which will be encrypted or “scrambled” so they can't be read if the transmissions are intercepted — will then become the official documents of the case.

        “The only time there will be paper entries is for the convenience of those who want paper or those who have to feel the paper in their hands,” Mr. Cissell said.


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