California's Stanislaus Superior Court has implemented document management software in an effort to do away with the stacks of case files and other courthouse documents taking up space around the building.
Freeing up space
The court spends around $60,000 per year for an off-site storage space, in addition to 2,200 square feet of office space used to hold files reports the Modesto Bee. Between the locations the court held onto about 1 million files. Now with 500,000 documents from 35,000 cases already scanned into the content management system the court is well on its way to going paperless.
"It's really more about accessibility than money saving at this point," said Court Executive Officer Rebecca Fleming. "We felt like it was reinvesting in the court."
However the courthouse is still set to benefit notably in regard to spending. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers 7.5 percent of documents are lost, while 3 percent are misfiled. The labor hour costs of replacing or finding these documents are significant – $120 to find a misfiled paper and $220 to replace a lost file. With the amount of documents and storage space court system employees have to move and sort through every day, it can be assumed that papers get lost on a regular basis.
Changes in Stanislaus County
The paperless system has been integrated in phases. In 2013 the child-support court started testing the document management software, while the family law court began using the system in February. Each court now has the system up and running fully. Criminal court judges are expected to begin using the content management service in December, and other courts will begin implementing it later on.
The up-to 40 files that family court Judge Jack Jacobson once found stacked on his desk each morning will now be instantly accessible with the click of a mouse or touch of a tablet screen. Case files, as well as forms will all be stored within the software's network. They will also be backed up in case of a crash.
The Stanislaus County District Attorney's office also plans on making the transition to a paperless system. Assistant District Attorney Carol Shipley stated that the office hopes to be fully digital by 2016. Scanning stations will be placed around the office to make the shift easier.
In addition to making daily life easier for employees, the switch to digital operations should make working with the county's court system simpler for the public as well. Certain forms will be accessible right from home and the court's website will be updated to a more accessible format.
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