Users are closer to having easier access to some online public records with the launch of the first part of a multi-million dollar program that updates and consolidates the Pinellas/Pasco Courts’ online case management system.
Clerks, judges, court staff, other employees and users can access Civil and Family Division case files online through a $6.4 million program called the Justice Consolidated Case Management System, which recently launched. Other court divisions will be added over time.
Other changes to the system also include dropping the subscriber fee for records started Oct. 1.
“The application moves us closer to a paper-on-demand court system, by getting all of our case records and files into a digital format,” Chief Judge Thomas McGrady said in a release.
Still, officials are working through privacy issues related to offering case file images nearly instantly, to anyone, online. Some information including addresses and Social Security numbers is supposed to be redacted before being released.
When the system is complete it will have PDF versions of court case files. However, until then it could be a lot of clicking for users. In the transition, users will have to search individual databases for court information rather than being able to look through, criminal, traffic and civil at once.
Ken Nelson, the court’s chief technology officer, said it will be about a year and a half transition to get all the new systems ready. He said the new civil system went up Sept. 17. The criminal, juvenile and traffic system will be live in mid-2013 and probate should be up at the end of 2013.
McGrady said he would like to see the program incorporate Pasco court records as well. The way the system works now, users must log on to the Pasco Clerk of Court site for those records.
Nelson said the Pinellas Criminal Justice Information System was put into place in 1977. The outdated system was heralded in the mid 1990s. However, as the courts have changed the system was expanded in pieces creating a difficult program to update and maintain.
“The long range result,” McGrady said. “Will be a system that allows the clerk to efficiently manage the courts record, require less handling of paper and give the public easier access to public documents.”