Record Pub: Stow Muni Court Hires Company to Create Paperless System

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

by Laura Freeman | Reporter
October 1, 2014

The Stow Municipal Court has hired a company to change its case management system to a paperless one.

Clerk of Courts Kevin Coughlin along with Judges Kim Hoover and Lisa Coates Sept. 26 announced CourtView Justice Solutions was chosen from five proposals to be the new case management software provider.

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They were the right price at $192,575 with an annual support fee of $47,676, Coughlin said.

The court budgeted $500,000, but costs were half for conversion to the CourtView system, Hoover said. The money was raised from fees added to offenders’ charges.

“A minor offender contributes a little bit, a major offender contributes a lot, and a good citizen doesn’t contribute at all,” Hoover said.

The CourtView Justice Solutions, a North Canton company, will improve efficiency by eliminating duplication and streamlining operational procedures; increase speed for processing a defendant through the courthouse; allow public access to the court and court records; and reinforce credibility of the court, according to Coughlin.

It will take about a year to fully implement, Coughlin said. Initially CourtView will assess the court departments and learn their process to create the software needed. They will convert the court data to their system and create a test environment to train personnel. Records will be entered electronically and accessible by court personnel to add to the case history instead of creating a paper trail kept in plastic sleeves.

“The old system was implemented in 1995 and designed for a paper-based court,” Coughlin said. “For active cases, judges won’t have to wrestle with plastic sleeves with an assortment of paperwork.”

Hoover explained the old process: The paper route began with the police officer writing a ticket; then the police records clerk entering the information at the police station; then a courier delivered the paperwork to the courthouse where a clerk entered the information into its system; another clerk prepared the paperwork for the legal system; a prosecutor, defense attorney, bailiff or other court officer could view the paperwork; it went to the judge who rendered a decision; it was returned to the bailiff, who took it to the clerk’s office; the clerk entered the results; and the defendants often waited hours to pay fees and fines. If a decision wasn’t rendered immediately, the process was repeated.

Every case may have 20 documents with 15,000 to 20,000 cases per year, Hoover said.

Paperwork will be reduced in the Clerk of Courts office where paperwork is grouped for warrants, traffic, civil, criminal, return to court cases, and to pay for payment plans, according to Mark Hatfield, deputy clerk for information services. Boxes of cases in plastic sleeves fill the filing cabinets and storage room.

Because criminal cases need to be kept 50 years, it won’t be until 2065 before the storage room in the basement will be empty of current paper records.

In the new process, once the ticket information is in the system, it’s available electronically to all, Hoover said. Small claims, filings and motions can be done electronically by attorneys.

Defendants will pay tickets online at 3 percent instead of the current 7 percent processing fee, which Coughlin considers an unfair high amount.

Police departments, who don’t have the equipment for electronic tickets, can continue to drop the paperwork off at the courthouse to be entered into the system.

The Stow Municipal Court serves the communities of Stow, Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson, Tallmadge, Twinsburg, Macedonia, Munroe Falls, Silver Lake, Sagamore Hills, Northfield Village, Northfield Center Township, Twinsburg Township, Reminderville, Peninsula, Boston Heights and Boston Township.

Read the story online here.

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