Miss. adapting feds’ e-filing for state courts

Published 2:42 pm Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The federal court system’s electronic case filing system is moving to Mississippi state courts.

Mississippi is the first state to get the PACER management system for its circuit and chancery courts, with Madison County as the test site.

Chancery court was made the starting point because its documents aren’t like anything filed in federal court, Madison County Chancery Clerk Arthur Johnston said.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The Legislature is using federal grant money and a $10 fee on civil case filings to pay for the project.

He and Rankin County Court Judge Kent McDaniel said electronic filing makes preparing court records for appeal much faster, because documents can be copied from computer to computer instead of making photocopies.

“That is just phenomenal,” McDaniel said. “It takes a few minutes as opposed to a day with clerks rummaging around in files.”

The Madison County system may be ready for public access by early 2009, state Supreme Court Justice William Waller Jr. said.

That would allow attorneys to file their pleadings and retrieve documents via the Internet, give courts an efficient tool for docket management, and make court records more accessible to the public.

Each district will decide whether to use the system, the state Supreme Court has said.

U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran helped secure a licensing agreement with the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

Johnston said his office expects to continue to use paper as well as electronic files for the immediate future. Some files, such as adoptions, will continue to be hand-docketed because they are sealed, he said.

The system also includes a calendar to tell judges when cases are set to be heard, when deadlines approach and when cases need to be decided.