The Kane County circuit clerk's office launched a new service Thursday allowing lawyers to view case files via remote computer instead of driving to the clerk's office in St. Charles.
Circuit Court Clerk Thomas Hartwell said 40 firms have signed up so far for a cost of up to $575 a year for large firms and $365 for firms with less than 11 attorneys.
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The ePortal, which can be accessed at www.cic.co.kane.il.us/, allows attorneys to view and print copies of files without traveling to and waiting in line at the clerk's office at 560 S. Randall Road.
"It just started. We're just rolling it out and getting rid of the bugs," Hartwell said. "It's a great efficiency. It's good for my staff. I won't have my staff looking up files (for attorneys as much). It's good for attorneys. They represent the public."
Hartwell said the printouts are copies and people still must travel to the clerk's office to obtain an official or certified copy of a document.
In addition to saving a time by avoiding a trip to the clerk's office, the new service can allow a criminal defense attorney to get instantly up to speed on charges facing a potential client, or assess where a new client is at in foreclosure proceedings even if the client shows up without any paperwork.
"I'm excited about it," Hartwell said. "Whatever we can do to make it more efficient for attorneys, it's good for the public."
Hartwell said the ePortal is a separate service from the county's efforts to develop and install a new case management system. The county hopes to select a firm in coming months and the new system next year will allow attorneys and people to file court documents and lawsuits electronically.
The ePortal has garnered positive reviews and it's only in its second day, Hartwell said.
Patrick Crimmins, partner at the Elgin law firm of Brady & Jensen, predicted his firm also would sign up for the service.
Crimmins said the service will save attorneys time from driving back and forth to the clerk's office.
"It's certainly something I think we'll do. I don't see how you could not sign up," Crimmins said. "I can't imagine a downside to it."