Polk County is in the middle of transitioning all of its court records to a digital format. Other counties will follow as the year progresses, but this change will come to Marion County either late this year or in early 2014.
“The rest of us are just kind of waiting,” Marion County Clerk of Court Carol Sage said. Polk County converted its civil court records in May and the criminal records are expected to go digital in August. July or August may also be the first time clerks, attorneys and other frequent filers in Marion County may have the opportunity to be trained on the new system.
Marion County is in Iowa Judicial District 5A, and Sage said this county will be the last in that district to go digital. When the conversion is made, all new filings will be done electronically. Some pending cases – dependent upon their age/status – may also be digitized. Documents in these cases will be scanned into the computer.
The process will be similar when the full conversion is made. PDF files will be made of each document to allow easy e-mail transfer. Attorneys, judges and clerks will be given usernames and passwords to allow them access to the electronic database.
“Nobody can file anything without a registration or password,” Sage said. When documents are submitted, they will be stored in a virtual “holding bin.” Hard copies are currently stored in bins until they can get filed. The courtrooms in Marion County are already being outfitted for wireless Internet access, to allow filing to be done quickly.
The public at large will still have access to the current Iowa Courts Online website. However, the public will only be able to access the new electronic records through public terminals at the courthouse. Sage believes there will be three terminals for this in Marion County.