Florida Keys News
Monday, March 18, 2013
Courts working on e-filing system for online access

Paperless courthouses? Changes are underway in the Keys to make it happen.

The Monroe County Clerk's Office shouldn't have a problem meeting an April 1 deadline set by the Florida Supreme Court for all counties to have in place an electronic filing system for some legal documents, officials said last week.

Recently elected Clerk of Court Amy Heavilin is overseeing the implementation of an e-filing system for all civil, probate, small claims and family law, as well as appeal matters.

Heavilin and all the other candidates from last November's election pledged to put more documents online and make public records more accessible via the Internet.

Monroe County has been working for years to go digital and it appears they will by the end of this year if everything goes according to plan at the current pace, according to documents provided by Chief Deputy Clerk Cathy Crane.

Heavilin was out of the office last week due to illness and unavailable for comment, Crane said.

Thus far, 10 clerks have been trained on the new e-filing system and the goal is to have most of the 97 employees in the office familiar with the system by the end of the year, Crane said.

As it stands now, the Clerk of Court is only accepting e-filings for civil matters and there is still a mandatory paper follow-up in place, but the office is awaiting the go-ahead from the Supreme Court to drop the mandatory paper follows, Crane said.

Heavilin sent a letter to Judge Lisa Munyon, chair of the Florida Courts Technology Commission -- signed by Monroe County Chief Circuit Judge David Audlin -- requesting that she eliminate the need for paper follow-up filing.

"The implementation has been very successful and filings are currently accepted for civil, county, probate, small claims and family and juvenile dependency," the letter states.

Audlin signed the letter on March 11.

"As soon as the Supreme Court says go, we're good," Crane said. "We're just waiting for their OK."

The Supreme Court deadline for criminal, traffic, juvenile cases and their appeals for e-filing requirements is Oct. 1, 2013.

That project is still in the "development stages," but should be complete on time, Crane said.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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