E-filing coming to Chancery Court in days

Published 12:15 pm Thursday, May 20, 2010

Warren County Chancery Court is going online.

The court, which handles probate, divorce, guardianship and equity legal matters will begin accepting voluntary electronic filing of documents by attorneys June 1.

E-filing will become mandatory in certain cases in the county starting July 5, per an order of Chancellor Vicki Roach Barnes.

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“We are hoping that the system will provide efficient access to the courts by the attorneys and their clients,” Barnes said in a prepared statement.

Warren County is the third Mississippi jurisdiction to participate in the program, also being piloted in the Madison County Circuit and Chancery courts and Scott County Chancery Court.

“We are just glad as a court to assist in the removing of any glitches in the system at the ground level,” Barnes said of participating in the pilot program.

Eventually, the system will be expanded to include cases in Warren County Circuit Court as well, with both circuit judges, Isadore Patrick and M. James Chaney, signing the order May 12.

“We are excited that Warren County was chosen to be one of the pilot counties,” said Patrick. “Everyone I’ve talked to who has tried it already is very enthusiastic about it.”

Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice William Waller met with Warren County judges and other justice officials last week to finalize piloting details. No date has been set for implementation in Circuit Court, but civil cases are expected to be input first with adaptation to criminal cases following.

Patrick said the system will make the courts more efficient and benefit attorneys, who will be able to file court documents electronically, as well as the public, which will have access, from any computer at any time, to docket information, documents and other case filings.

When fully operational, case management will be more efficient and physical storage needs reduced with less paperwork, officials have said.

In the meantime, Warren County Circuit Clerk Shelly Ashley-Palmertree has been directed to continue the current written docketing system while the e-filing method is tested.

The Mississippi Supreme Court began developing the system in 2005, and Madison County began testing a version developed from a federal model in May 2008. A similar system is currently in use in more than 200 federal courts.

Mississippi is the only state to be licensed by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to adapt the federal electronic filing system to use in state courts. Other states have expressed interest in looking at the pilot project.

Before using the system, attorneys, their clients and others must register online at the Mississippi Electronic Courts link on the State of Mississippi Judiciary website at www.mssc.state.ms.us/mec/mec.html.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.