The first piece of a system to allow electronic public access to the Lake County circuit court system should be in place in 30 to 60 days, following action Tuesday by the Lake County Board.
The board agreed to pay URL Integration of Colorado Springs a not-to-exceed figure of just over $1 million for consulting services to develop and implement software for six categories of civil cases, such as small claims. The work also will include public access for e-filing services that has been more than two years in process.
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"This is just the beginning," Circuit Court Clerk Keith Brin said. "We're going to bring technology to the courts and really move things forward to the next generation."
What that means initially is the public will be able to access case file information online at no charge.
"If you have to be in court the next day, you can look it up," Brin told county board members.
The second part of the system involving e-filing isn't expected to debut for about six months.
"The electronic filing part will require extensive testing," Brin said.
Initially, access will be provided to the high-volume small claims court. Other case types will be rolled out thereafter every month or two.
"They'll be able to file their pleadings online," Chief Judge Fred Foreman told the board. "We hope it will cut down on the time in court for your constituents."
The system will provide a secure path for those who are registered to pay fees and file instantaneously with the clerk's office.
The clerk's office in August 2010 approved a contract to develop and implement an electronic filing system for court records. As the work was in progress, the Illinois Supreme Court put all such projects on hold until statewide rules were developed.
Rules relating to public access of records have been issued, so Lake County can proceed.
The contract with URL Integration, which did the initial work, was exempted from bidding because of the "long standing and successful relationship" the county has had with the company, according to a summary that appeared on the agenda.
Funding will come from a special revenue fund known as the Document Storage Fund.
"This is really an outstanding step forward and a great initiative for the courts and our residents," said county Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor.
Brin's office said he plans to release further details soon.