Electronic Document Management Streamlines Florida Court System/Photo by iStockphoto Electronic Document Management Streamlines Florida Court System Photo by iStockphoto

systems operator for Xerox Services, works in the courthouse as part of the company's contract to run a copy center and provide support for DocuShare and Xerox equipment. Stello said Demel created a cover sheet in AccuRoute that allows the documents to be automatically distributed to different parties.

"They can scan to DocuShare and then to the AccuRoute server, and automatically send out that one document to multiple locations, including e-mail addresses, fax machines and printers," Demel said. The server permits encoded routing be added to the cover sheets, which eliminates redundant work by letting Stello and her secretary select the appropriate cover sheet; the document is automatically sent to the corresponding parties.

Ortiz said five of the 15 court divisions within the 13th Circuit court were using the document management system and four more divisions planned to add the technology.

Public Improvements

The content management system has made the court's documents more accessible for the public. Before documents were scanned into the system, physical records were kept, but old records were moved out of the courthouse to a storage location due to limited space. Stello said if a citizen needed a court record, he or she would have to order the court file. If the file had been moved to storage, it could take two to three days for it to be picked up.

Now the court staff can find documents by searching for the hearing date and person's name. "[A woman] walked in and said, 'I never got it. Where do I go? How much do I pay?'" Stello said. "Because that's what it would be -- they would have to pay the clerk for a copy and get it certified, which is more expensive. My secretary was able to hand her a copy immediately."

Another improvement the court implemented was a disaster-recovery site at a remote location. Ortiz said this project was important because information used to be backed up on tapes that could be shipped to an offsite location to preserve records. "It would take several weeks, if not months, to get back to a state where we could do business," he said. "This way -- assuming that a disaster didn't cover a huge region -- we should be able to return to business as usual within minutes."

Digital Signature

The court hopes to find even more savings in the future by letting judges sign off on electronic documents. The court has submitted paperwork to the electronic forms committee of the Office of the State Courts Administrator to get permission to use electronic signatures, Demel said.

"We want to be able to do the order originally online, and then get a signature block," Stello said, later adding, "Once that's done, this is really going to be fast because as I do the orders in court, while the parties are sitting here, they're going to go to the judge, get signed and sent right back to me automatically. I'll be handing out their orders right in the courtroom without mailing costs."

 

Elaine Rundle  |  Staff Writer