New Hampshire small claims courts go paperless

January 7th, 2015 | Posted by Kevin Corley in Business Process Automation | Document Management | Workflow

In New England the American revolution was kick-started by the wasting of tea. In the same region, a bit further north, a different revolution will roll on as one state introduces a paperless small claims court.

All courts in New Hampshire that accept small claims cases will soon have to do so electronically. The transition to a paperless small claims system began in July when Concord and Plymouth switched to electronic filing and processing, according to the Associated Press. At that time the state established the goal of having all 32 small claims courts within New Hampshire operating electronically by the end of the year.

A heavy caseload for small claims courts in New Hampshire
Judicial officials told the news outlet that 13,000 new small claims actions were filed in 2013, while another 9,000 were reopened. These are cases that involve debts or damages of up to $7,500. Soon that sum will jump to $10,000. At the time Edwin Kelly, administrative judge of the circuit court system, explained that switching to a paperless system would save money, reduce processing time and cut the state’s paper usage.

With the small claims threshold moving to $10,000 in July the caseload the 32 courts across the state handle is expected to increase, the Concord Monitor noted. Content management services can speed up the filing and processing workflow for courts, which will increase efficiency for small claims cases filed within the state. Cases below $7,500 are currently the most commonly filed in New Hampshire.

She added that the switch to a document management software will make small claims courts in New Hampshire “more efficient, more economical and more accessible.” Other states using similar document storage solutions include New York, Arizona and California.

Switching over to a paperless storage system
“Our vendors were selected from a very competitive field,” Peter Croteau, the state court system’s chief technology officer, said in a press statement. “We look forward to configuring a state-of-the-art, secure, end-to-end electronic information system for our courts that greatly reduces costly paper handling while improving services for citizens who use the court.”

For two years New Hampshire has been working out a way to get a paperless small claims court system off the ground. The state worked with experts in the industry in order to create a streamlined processing system specifically designed for its needs. The new document management software will eliminate the need for paperless filing systems in small claims courts across the state.

Paper is an expensive office investment since it consistently has to be replenished and often comes in tandem with a need for costly printer ink. The switch to an electronic processing and filing system will likely help the state save money by reducing its dependence on paper. Additionally, the switch to a document management software will help improve workflow within the court system as well as free up storage space that had been set aside for keeping other files.

Kelly told local NBC news outlet WPTZ that the transition put kiosks and workstations in all 32 small claims court lobbies across the state. He added that the goal of the initiative was to make the court system more transparent, and that thus far the feedback to the change has been positive.

“The NH e-Court Project is the top administrative priority of the Judicial Branch,” Chief Justice Linda Stewart Dalianis explained in a press release.

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