New rules should set the stage so court documents eventually could be filed via the Internet
Rules that went into effect this month will set the stage for minimum standards
for Ohio court jurisdictions to build a common base for filing documents
Ohio courts are otherwise autonomous, a situation that is seen as promoting
technology innovation, but the 90 or so computer systems used throughout
the state are a potential barrier to the future of online services. Standards
would enable lawyers, members of the public and law enforcement officials
to use the same electronic forms to send documents and information to all
"There's a wide variety of different case management systems around
the state," said Christian Selch, manager of technology policy and planning
for the state Supreme Court. "The rules will help define what the minimum
components of a consistent system would be."
However, in setting those standards, it will be important for courts
to retain the autonomy to choose the technology they use, he said. Ohio
courts subscribe to a market-driven policy to spur innovation in the use
of technology, and the standards should not interfere with that.
It could take as little as five years for some of the courts to embrace
e-filing of documents, but as long as 20 years for others, Selch warned.
"It's a diverse state, with large rural and Appalachian areas," he said.
"Some of the courts aren't even computerized yet, so it's reasonable to
assume it could take that long with them."
Officials from the state Supreme Court are now working to see how they
can get computer systems into those areas, Selch said, and are looking for
grants and other resources to help. They also are setting up a program aimed
at moving the process along.
Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached
NEXT STORY: Canada securing e-gov