State courts are one step closer in their transition to a centralized electronic court environment with the Supreme Court’s launch of its Kansas eCourt project today.
The eCourt project will focus on merging electronic document filing already used in most Kansas courts with a centralized case management system, uniting all court case information and business processes on a single platform.
“Courts have used technology to improve day-to-day business operations, but it has been at a district or county level, essentially creating standalone digital environments,” said Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss. “This initiative to centralize most of our court records and processes will allow us to share information across district and county lines, where we can make the most effective use of our limited staff and fiscal resources. It also strengthens the unification of our state’s courts the people of Kansas asked for in their constitution more than 40 years ago.”
To prepare for this move to centralized case management, electronic filing was introduced in some district courts in 2009. Electronic filing allows lawyers and court employees to file and store court documents electronically in the nearly half a million cases courts process each year.
Currently, more than half of the state’s judicial districts are using electronic filing and the 7th judicial district in Douglas County requires it. Electronic filing in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals will be mandatory starting November 2.
Now that electronic filing is nearly fully in place, the courts are ready to move to the electronic court environment that is one goal of the eCourt project.
“While technology is the foundation of this project, the transition to a more centralized case management system will require a fair amount of standardization across judicial districts,” said Justice Dan Biles, who is chair of the eCourt steering committee. “Our subcommittees on infrastructure, requirements, and rules will examine needs of individual courts, the legal community, the public, and others to establish baseline requirements for the eCourt environment.”
Funding for the eCourt project is through the Electronic Filing and Case Management Fund established by the 2014 Legislature, which directed that the first $3.1 million received in docket fee revenue for fiscal years 2015, 2016, and 2017 be deposited into the fund. In fiscal year 2018 and subsequent years, the first $1 million in docket fee revenue is directed into the fund.
In 2015, the Legislature extended by one year the requirement that $3.1 million be deposited into the fund and authorized the judicial branch to use revenue deposited in fiscal years 2015 and 2016 to fill gaps in its general expenditures.