Catoosa County commissioners unanimously approved a system request that will initiate a transition from paper to an electronic filing system for all criminal court cases.
On Feb. 20, Clerk of Superior Court Tracy Brown pitched her request for the popular PeachCourt eFiling System to the Board of Commissioners as a way to streamline how the court system handles the record of criminal cases.
"The eFiling Project will allow just that, eFiling on the criminal side of my office," Brown said.
Brown added that her office is already familiar with the system having already used it in civil cases.
"We've been doing civil eFiling for probably going on five years now in my office already," Brown explained. "We actually use PeachCourt to do that as well. That is a state-funded project at no cost to the county. Also, all transcripts that are efiled with us are done through PeachCourt."
Brown said the system will probably be used in court systems across the board before too much longer, which is why she decided to go ahead and request the switch.
"I believe it's an awesome opportunity that we have," Brown said. "Eventually, efiling is going to come mandatorily. It's already required in lots of higher courts. It will be coming, so I think it's time, and I think we'll benefit greatly from it."
Commissioner Jim Cutler questioned the security of the system, seeing as how so much personal information about defendants would be involved.
"It is fairly secure," Brown said. "Anything that is filed with me is secure. A lot of documents that we get do not have the social security on it, and it can be restricted from any viewing at all. It's very, very secure."
With the system, officers of the court and attorneys can register, sign in, and then view the documents pertaining to their cases.
Brown did say that one of the only wrinkles that still needs to be worked out is instances where defendants represent themselves.
"There's a registration process," she said. "There's some action of proving who you are, and why you would need to be a part of that portal."
Over the past few years on the civil side, Brown says court staff have been happy with the system.
"It's very user-friendly, and the support for PeachCourt is phenomenal," Brown said. "If we have an issue, we have direct people we contact, and they've always responded in less than 30 minutes."
The system will be paid for with 2014 SPLOST funds.
"It's $206,000 and it's not just me that's involved, there's five-six offices that that would actually connect," Brown said. "We would interface with each other."