Conn. Launching Online Court Filing

July 14, 2004

Connecticut’s judicial branch began launching an online filing system on July 1 for its civil and family courts, allowing attorneys to file lawsuits and motions from their office.

It’s the first step in a broader plan to drastically decrease paperwork for court workers and allow the public to see court documents from courthouse computers, the Greenwich Time reported.

“Certainly, there are benefits for lawyers because they’re going to be able to file their claims right from their office,” Chief Court Administrator Judge Joseph Pellegrino said. “In the long term, hopefully, it will be much more efficient for (court officials). . . and once this thing gets going, someone can go to the courthouse and access any electronic file anywhere in the state.”

For now, the launch is somewhat limited. Lawyers can file only five kinds of claims online, all involving defective premises or vehicle property damage.

“These cases typically don’t have a lot of motions filed, so we chose them because of the amount of paperwork and also, frankly, because there aren’t that many of them,” judicial branch spokeswoman Melissa Farley said. “This system is brand new, so we decided we would start small.”

Much of the $1 million infrastructure is not in place yet, either. Many courthouses and clerks offices are awaiting new scanners and computers needed to process the electronically filed lawsuits. Farley said beginning in October court clerks will begin scanning all lawsuits and motions filed in the state.

Judges and lawyers will be able to view documents by logging onto the site with a password. The public can access documents from any courthouse in the state but cannot view documents from their personal computers. Officials said the system comes with several firewalls and top notch anti-hacking software.

If all goes according to plan, Pellegrino said Connecticut will have one of the nation’s most advanced online filing systems.

“I don’t know of any state that has all their trial courts engaged in an e-filing,” he said.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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