Texas tests online court filing system

Two Texas counties are testing a Web-based filing system for state and local courts jointly developed by BearingPoint Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

The companies are offering the product as a managed service so attorneys can file any type of simple or complex case documents, whether criminal or civil, said Frank Giebutowski, Microsoft's general manager for state and local government. As a managed service, courts don't have to pay major capital investments for such a system, he said.

Gary Miglicco, national e-government director for BearingPoint's state and local sector, said attorneys would register with the service and pay fees for filing cases around the clock. It could eliminate the use of couriers who file documents in person at the courts. He said the system can also track the status of filed documents.

The companies signed a deal with the TexasOnline Authority, the state portal's governing body, in January 2002 and began development last summer. They launched pilot projects in Fort Bend and Bexar counties last November and plan to expand that to another four counties this summer and then nationwide.

"Use of the service by our courts can save attorneys time, reduce total filing costs and assist courts in becoming more efficient — this is especially critical in these challenging economic times," said Carolyn Purcell, Texas' chief information officer, in a press release.

The service, called eFiling for Courts, is an open solution that can interface with any other solution, company officials said.

Although it's unknown how many courts nationwide use e-filing, court officials in the past have said that courts are mostly paper-based and slow to adopt technology.

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