Third Judicial Circuit Court: Court adopts new 'streamlining' technology; Pilot system to launch in civil division, making it easier for lawyers to e-file

By Jo Mathis

Legal News

A new electronic filing system at the Third Judicial Circuit Court in Detroit will streamline services at what officials are calling "an astounding rate."

"By substituting a visit to our office with a click of a mouse, this innovative system will save lawyers' time that can now be devoted to client casework," said Clerk Cathy M. Garrett, in a statement. "Through this new e-filing tool, we're also making it easier for the hard working employees of Wayne County to do their job more efficiently. Given scarce tax dollars, it is more vital now than ever that we maximize the use of technology."

The technology will ensure that the filing of legal documents is far easier for lawyers at the Third Judicial Circuit Court, and will also cut down on the time and material consumed with keeping only paper-cased records, Garrett said.

The pilot system will involve the court's civil division, which processes more than 56,000 cases a year. The e-filing system is expected to pay for itself through nominal user-fees.

Garrett said that as the clerk of the largest Circuit Court in the State of Michigan, her plan is to implement creative methods to process the large number of new cases and motions filed each year with precision.

Garrett worked closely with Virgil Smith, chief judge of the Wayne County Circuit Court, to deliver on the promise she made in 2001 when she wanted to enhance services of the entire Wayne County Clerk's Office.

Garrett told the Legal News that it took asking four chief judges over the past 10 years before she finally got the go-ahead from Smith to begin the process of e-filing.

"He was receptive to it since Day One," she said of Smith. "It's been a long time coming, but I'm just so excited that it's here."

The Third Judicial Circuit Court will finally be joining the 21st Century as far as technology is concerned, Smith said.

Once the files are digitized, attorneys won't have to spend time and parking fees coming to the court, or going through security, she said.

"It's a win-win, both internally for employees, and externally for customers," said Garrett.

Garrett signed the e-filing contract with Tyler Technologies Friday in Judge Smith's courtroom. It will take months before the system is up and running.

The Wayne County Clerk's office currently provides court services for three areas of the Third Judicial Circuit Court, including civil, criminal, and family (and juvenile) cases.

Published: Mon, May 9, 2011