E-filing at JeffCo Courts: Give the Public Online Access

13 May

Update: I e-mailed OSCA on the question of public access, and got this response: “I know this question has been raised before and it might be a consideration for the distant future, but at this time it is not available.”

All of the courtrooms at the courthouse down in Hillsboro have converted to electronic filing (here’s an older Post-Dispatch story). This mean attorneys can file motions via the internet, judges can call up cases from the bench, and the need for paper file storage will be reduced. Unfortunately, unit manager of the circuit clerk’s office Jeannette McKee says “she is not aware of any plans to allow public online access to the court files,” according to the Leader. It looks like the lawyers-only limitation is in effect everywhere, not just here, as this is a state-run system.

It would be nice for journalists, bloggers (ahem), and members of the public to access these files via the internet. Hillsboro is not the most convenient place to visit. Casenet gives us basic info on the progress of cases, but no access to filings. Here are some Twitter lamentations:

The OSCA Jen refers to is the Office of the State Courts Administrator. I might have to give them a call. PACER is the online federal courts system that allows one to view and download court filings. As you browse the site, the number of pages you view are tallied, and you are charged $0.15 per page, I believe. But if you view fewer than a certain number of pages per quarter, there is no charge. It is excellent. I used it to follow the Pure Pleasure case in Pevely.

There is a benefit to us common folk in the JeffCo courts change, though. There are two computers available in the courthouse we can use to go look up court filings, which we will be able to e-mail to ourselves. This will save us the outrageous, ridiculous, $1/page copy fee that the courthouse charges. That charge can vary by court – they only charge $0.25 per page in St. Charles County.

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