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Going paperless

New system designed to make courts faster, more efficient

October 2, 2012
By PETER KASPARI ( , Messenger News

Starting today, those who use the court system in Webster County will have their jobs made easier, thanks to a new digital system being adopted by counties all over Iowa.

The Electronic Document Management System allows both lawyers and regular people to file documents online using only their personal computer.

Webster County Clerk of Court Janelle Groteluschen said the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that all counties must adopt EDMS, which is why Webster County has moved to the system.

"We'll be doing everything we used to do, except now it's digital," she said. "The documents will load faster to the counties, and it'll allow access to documents all the time. This really helps if something needs to be resolved quickly, because they can do the work from home."

Webster County is the 12th in the state to adopt EDMS, according to Bill Watson, assistant district court administrator. Story County was the first in District 2B, where Webster County is located, to adopt EDMS back in 2010.

"They were the pilot county," he said. "They were used to help iron all the bugs out."

Two years later, EDMS being adopted in counties throughout District 2B. Hamilton County already has the system in place, while Humboldt and Wright counties are in the process of training for EDMS, which is expected to debut on Nov. 6.

"It helps us with efficiency and space," Watson said. "The court system is drowning in paperwork and the expenses related to that."

Over the past several weeks, Groteluschen said her office has been busy training attorneys, judges, office staff and law enforcement in EDMS.

"The clerk staff had six sessions, each three hours long," she said. "Once we go live we'll have trainers here to help us transition over the next few weeks."

Watson added EDMS is not difficult to use; all that's needed is a computer with recent software, a scanner and a word processor.

Users of EDMS also have to register, which is free. Once registered, users can check the status of their cases.

Groteluschen said that only newly filed cases will be entered into EDMS. Previously filed cases will not be transferred over.

Second Judicial District Chief Judge Kurt Wilke said EDMS will make the court process more efficient.

"It will afford me the ability to work on a file everywhere in the district without having to send it through the mail," he said.

Because judges travel to different counties within the district, EDMS will allow them to rule on cases immediately without having to wait for the mail to arrive.

"Let's say I have a file in Sac City," he said. "The clerk must mail the file to me so I can have it. That takes time and money, and with EDMS that will no longer be necessary. I'll have the entire file with me to work on any time, day or night."

Wilke said he's looking forward to using the system.

"It takes away the problem of storage," he said. "We'll no longer have tons of files in our offices. Overall it'll improve the way we do business."

Webster County Attorney Ricki Osborn agreed that EDMS will make the court system run smoothly.

"We'll be able to take our computers and pull up our cases at home so we don't have to carry our files with us," she said. "It'll make things faster and more efficient with easier access."

Groteluschen said she's also looking forward to using EDMS.

"I like that we're going paperless," she said. "We'll be able to complete our processing quicker and the judges will be able to get their work done quicker."



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