|Oregon State Bar Bulletin JULY 2008|
The Oregon Judicial Department is in the process of developing and implementing "Oregon eCourt." This ambitious effort will convert court operations from a paper-based system to an electronic system.
Oregon eCourt will facilitate the prompt and safe resolution of civil disputes; improve public safety and the quality of life in our communities; and improve the lives of children and families in crisis. Oregon eCourt will transform the business operations of the court: "It is a service delivery change, not a technology project."
The Internet-based public features will allow electronic filing, electronic payment, access to documents, dockets and related content from anywhere, anytime. Court operations will be streamlined through electronic document management, enhanced management reporting capabilities and data sharing with business partners.
When complete, there will be a modern statewide electronic system for all state courts, regardless of size, which will increase access to court information, standardize court business practices, and support a paper-on-demand environment. In addition to replacing the current OJIN case management and case register functions, Oregon eCourt will include the payment of fees, docketing, jury management, and submission of briefing will be included in the new system. Oregon eCourt will have different levels of access to address issues of confidentiality and privacy.
Over the next five years, OJD will install and implement Oregon eCourt in all the trial courts in the state. The program is organized into eight stages. In February 2008, the Legislature provided debt financing for the first two stages of Oregon eCourt.
Stage I involves completing eCourt in the Oregon Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. It also includes the procurement of an electronic content management system (ECM) and an electronic filing system, developing an interface between OJIN and the new ECM, setting up a new OJD website and creating commonality between all OJD websites. By the end of Stage I, in March 2009, the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals eCourt program will be complete.
In Stage II, the OJD will begin installation of the program’s first components — ECM, e-filing and the web portal — in the trial courts.
Supreme Court Electronic Filing
The Supreme Court began a short term electronic filing pilot project in July 2008. It will quickly expand to allow electronic filing of all Supreme Court documents by all members of the Oregon State Bar.
Initially, Supreme Court electronic filing will be available only to the attorneys employed by the Department of Justice, and attorneys who are employed by the Appellate Division of the Office of Public Defense Services. Once they are trained and registered for the use of the system, those attorneys will be permitted to file certain documents in the Oregon Supreme Court, namely initiating documents, which include petitions for review, notices of appeal, and petitions for writs of mandamus. Additionally, certain other documents may be filed concurrently with an initiating document, such as excerpts of record, motions to stay, applications to waive or defer fees, and motions to appoint counsel.
Revised Appellate Rules
A new chapter of the Oregon Rules of Appellate Procedure has been approved. The chapter includes a complete list of initiating documents, supporting documents and associated documents that may be filed during the first phase of electronic filing. The new rules are now available at the Supreme Court’s eFiling website.
Electronic Document Management
In the near future, both electronic filers and the public will be able to electronically access case documents in most cases. The appellate courts anticipate the electronic document management functions will be available by March 2009, for both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals.
There is an OJD Circuit Court located in each of Oregon’s 36 counties. The conversion of these trial courts is by far the largest component of the Oregon eCourt program. Trial court implementation is scheduled to begin in April 2009 at the earliest, and will be phased in gradually. The first trial court "pilot group" will be Crook/Jefferson, Yamhill, Jackson and Multnomah Counties. These counties were selected because they represent a cross section of trial courts. Within each trial court the different types of cases will be implemented in phases.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paul DeMuniz is chief justice of the Oregon Supreme Court.
© 2008 Paul DeMuniz