Iowa is the first state nationwide to move all of its document filings for the district court system online. The process will likely be completed later this year for Iowa’s appellate courts.
Up until now, many Iowans had go to their country courthouse during business hours to deal with legal matters. People can now file and view legal documents using the internet, and see the court docket online.
"If you need to respond to something that you're doing as a self-represented litigant, you can do that at night from your home or on a Saturday," says Ken Bosier, director of information systems and technology for the Iowa Judicial Branch.
Bosier says the paperless, electronic filing system makes the judicial branch more efficient and particularly benefits rural counties, where the population is too sparse to employ a fulltime judge.
"In the past in the paper world, people would file a motion on a case, it might not get signed for two weeks. An order might not get signed for two weeks. So now that service is leveled, those orders and motions get reviewed within a day or so in most cases."
Even though many of the documents are open to the public, online access is only available to those directly connected to cases.
The cost of statewide implementation for electronic filing is $19 million.