Kiosk to provide court information
Feb 12, 2013 (American News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Local residents who want more information about court cases are now able to access it from a computer in the Brown County Courthouse.
The computer means that folks no longer have to request paper files from the clerk of court's office.
Brown County court officials were told late last week that the program was ready to go. The kiosk is right next to the clerk of court's office window on the second floor of the Aberdeen courthouse.
Similar computers are being put in place at other courthouses in the 5th Judicial Circuit, which encompasses much of northeast South Dakota.
Installing the computers is part of the state's switch from tracking all types of court cases via paperwork to electronic files, a transition that began last year.
The kiosk at the Brown County Courthouse has instructions about how to use the program, including log-in information and a password. Copies cost 20 cents each.
Before what's called the Odyssey system was implemented, somebody who wanted to see a court file had to go to the window at the clerk of court's office and request it using a name of somebody involved in the case or by the case number. Now that the kiosk computer is running, court documents are available online via the case number, said Greg Sattizahn, director of the Division of Policy and Legal Services for the state judicial system. Folks who have only a name of somebody involved in a court case will be able to ask the clerk's office for case numbers. They'll then be able to enter that number into the computer to call up information.
The Odyssey system has been implemented in the state's 2nd, 3rd and 5th circuits, Sattizahn said. In March, it will go live in the 1st and 6th circuits, he said. The 4th and 7th circuits will follow at the end of June.
In the circuits already using Odyssey, clerks are keeping both electronic and paper files, Sattizahn said. But, he said, that will change. For now, paper files are scanned in and kept as a backup, he said. Eventually, though, scanned electronic files will become the originals, he said, though people still will be able to file actual paper documents at the clerk's office.
As more Odyssey features are rolled out, the public will be able to file paperwork and pay fines from their homes through the online system 24 hours a day, Sattizahn said. But there will be a learning process for both the state and users as that happens, he said.
Case information, documents and listings will be available to start, Sattizahn said. Eventually, the portal might be able to be expanded to allow people to log in and find details about cases from home, he said. That, though, has yet to be determined, he said.
In 2010, state legislators appropriated $11.8 million to upgrade the state judicial system's computer equipment.
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