Revolutionary move away from paper in progress

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Indiana Court Times on 09/21/20016 by Lindsey Borschel , Elizabeth Fullen

Indiana’s e-filing project is at full steam just two years after the Supreme Court announced it would pursue a uniform, statewide system. By the end of 2018, all Indiana courts will have voluntary e-filing available, and attorneys will be required to electronically file most pleadings.

Twenty-first century pioneers

Change is difficult; progress is even harder. But that didn’t stop court and clerk officials in Hamilton County from volunteering to pilot e-filing. They were an early adopter of the state’s Odyssey case management system, so they understood the challenges and ultimate upshots of adopting new technology.

Soon after the e-filing pilot began in August 2015, Clerk Tammy Baitz and her Chief Deputy Debbie LePere noticed a laundry list of benefits, including:

  • Less paper and fewer mailings
  • Reduced postage costs
  • Fewer demands to pull and circulate paper files
  • Less danger of misplacing paperwork

“It’s a work in progress,” Clerk Baitz said about the evolving workflows in her office. But such a massive change in procedures means more work in the beginning: staff needs to be trained; attorneys need to be trained; filers have a different series of questions about procedure than in the past.

Judge William Hughes in Hamilton Superior Court 3 says the biggest difficulty is “getting filers to read the (e-filing user) guide and instructions to be sure they are in compliance.” Despite this challenge, Judge Hughes is optimistic. “Expect some pushback from attorneys until they actually use the system,” he advises, “After two weeks they will be asking why you waited so long to implement.”