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Judicial Council Approves Move to Electronic Court Operating Environment

Posted: Friday, January 20, 2012

The Judicial Council took a historic step into the future Thursday voting to move state courts from a framework of paper files to an electronic information environment. The eCourtMN strategic initiative will result in increased productivity for judges and court staff, and ensure convenient, timely, and appropriate access to court information for court users.

“The eCourtMN initiative will result in significant benefits for judges, court employees, attorneys, and most importantly, the hundreds of thousands of people we serve each year,” said Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea. “It is often said that everybody likes progress, but nobody likes change.  However, the public we serve deserves the most cost-efficient and user-focused judicial system that we can provide, one that is more in tune with the high-tech world in which we live,” said Gildea.   

The plan approved by the Judicial Council envisions a multi-year transition to an electronic environment that, among other innovations, includes digital imaging of past case files and electronic filing (e-filing) of new cases.

The first phase of the initiative calls for 10 courts to be selected as pilot sites. Over the past year the Second Judicial District Court (Ramsey County) and the Fourth Judicial District Court (Hennepin County) have been operating a pilot project that allows for the voluntary e-filing of civil cases, and Dakota County District Court has been operating a pilot project to convert paper case files to digital images.

The scope of the initiative includes the following components:

  • eFiling (including eCitations and eCharging)
  • Electronic document management, including document imaging
  • SessionWorks for judges (a touch screen desktop tool for judges to view case records)
  • Electronic transmission of cases to the appellate courts
  • eTools (eSignature, eNoticing, eCertification, and other tools that allow for electronic processing of orders)

“The eCourtMN initiative will be the most comprehensive reengineering effort yet undertaken by the Minnesota Judicial Branch,” said State Court Administrator Sue K. Dosal, who was charged by the Council with overseeing the initiative.  “Our past successes like the creation of the Minnesota Court Information System (MNCIS) and the Minnesota Court Payment Center (CPC) demonstrate that we are up to this new task,” Dosal said.  The Council directed Dosal to return in six months with a progress report.