By Sarah Richardson
The Greenbrier County Courthouse has seen some long-overdue upgrades over the last month with the installation of a new e-filing system. Greenbrier County Circuit Clerk Louvonne Arbuckle said the new program means it will be “faster for everyone” when it comes to filing things at the courthouse. “It’s improved the efficiency for attorneys, for us, and for the judges,” she said.
These upgrades are part of the WV Circuit Clerk E-Filing and Case Management Modernization Project, which aims to bring unified case management to all of the circuit and family courts in the state.
Information from the West Virginia Judiciary at courtswv.gov says that the CourtPlus Initiative is sponsored by the Supreme Court of Appeals, and that “increased use of technology in courthouses and courtrooms will make the judicial system more efficient and make the work of the courts more transparent.”
“The CourtPLUS Initiative is the latest step in the Court’s ongoing effort to utilize technology to improve the court system,” says the release. “Previously, the Court has successfully implemented a unified judicial application for the magistrate courts. The statewide e-filing and case management system for circuit clerks will provide a streamlined process for filing documents, conserve environmental resources and time, and generate long-term savings.”
Since the project began in 2013 in Marion County, County Clerks across the state have started to use the new system. For Greenbrier County it was long overdue, as the previous software was from 1994.
“We are still in the process of ironing out all the little bugs and learning the complexities of the system,” said Mary Ingles, Deputy Circuit Clerk. “It’s an incredibly smart system. Incredibly smart. It has options for just about anything that would arise. That’s going to be huge for us, it does a lot, and it watches out for things.”
“It’s amazing what it can do,” added Louvonne. “The old way [we used to file] would be when we got an order the person that processes the orders would have to type it up, make all the copies, and send them out to all the attorneys or parties [involved]. Now, the computer will send it as soon as the judge signs the order. So if the judge signs the order, it’s automatically going to the attorney listed in that case, we don’t have to process it and send it out unless it is somebody that is not in our system.”
“It saves time, and it honestly has really reduced our carbon footprint, and it will drastically reduce it over time,” said Mary. “It’s not sending out the paper that we used to, since we are able to send out a lot of stuff electronically now, where before we had to have the hard copies with the raised seal. Now, they have an electronic seal. If you get an order from us and you don’t think it’s a legitimate order, there is a code that is underneath the judge’s signature. You can put that code into a search engine under the West Virginia Supreme Court that allows you to verify that it’s an official document signed by the court system.” The public can verify signatures at the following link: http://www.courtswv.gov/e-file/.
The following are the different types of records that are filed and entered in the County Clerk’s office: civil cases; name changes; Substitution of Trustees; divorces; domestic cases such as paternity, custody, visitation or child support; criminal cases which includes felony and misdemeanor; bound over cases from Magistrate Court; miscellaneous criminal cases such as petition for probation or petition for home incarceration; adoptions; juvenile cases which includes delinquents, status and abuse and neglect; guardianships for infants and incapacitated adults; and mental hygiene cases.
The release estimates that full statewide implementation will be complete by 2022.