DES MOINES — Today, Iowans with a case on file in any of the state’s 99 counties can now file documents using the Internet and view the court docket and court documents for their case online from an office or home computer 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The statewide implementation of electronic filing in Iowa’s courts is complete.
The project began five years ago when the first court document was successfully filed electronically in the Plymouth County Clerk of Court Office. Yesterday, the project was completed when documents were filed electronically in the Allamakee, Chickasaw, Howard and Winneshiek county courthouses using the Electronic Document Management System (EDMS).
“This is a truly transformational event that is changing the way the courts operate and serve Iowans,” Chief Justice Mark Cady said. “EDMS gives more and more court users, including our citizens, law enforcement officers, the Department of Human Services, and hospitals secure, prompt, and easy access to judges, court records, and the court system. Today, Iowa is the first court system in the nation to have a totally electronic, paperless process for all cases at the district court level, and the appellate court level will be complete later this year.”
EDMS is designed to receive and store all court documents electronically. It also sends automatic notices of electronic filings to parties and integrates with the Iowa Court Information System (ICIS). In the five years since the first document was filed in Plymouth County, nearly 2 million cases were filed online or by using one of the public access computers located in courthouses around the state. The EDMS cases included more than 6.5 million documents filed by nearly 88,000 users.
“The Iowa Judicial Branch began contemplating electronic filing in the courts in the late 1990s,” Iowa Court Information Systems Director Ken Bosier said. “Today’s achievement can be attributed to the dedication of the Judicial Branch IT and contracted staff, and to the many judges, court employees, and court users who volunteered their time and expertise to develop the rules and processes necessary for the success of this innovative project. EDMS is a business project driven by and supported by the many different users of the court system from across the state. The statewide implementation of EDMS positions the Iowa Judicial Branch for the future and is a new chapter in court history.”
EDMS implementation has resulted in new efficiencies for court users by allowing parties to file documents electronically without the need to travel to a clerk of court office. EDMS facilitates the case management work of clerks of court, which frees up staff time for other important duties such as helping self-represented litigants and those users unfamiliar with the EDMS system. EDMS enables judges and employees to work on cases from any location in the state. For example, a clerk’s office in one or more counties with EDMS can process all the traffic tickets issued in other counties across the state, or the clerk’s office in one county can absorb some of the overflow work of a clerk’s office in another county.