Texas courts enter digital age with e-file mandate

By Marilyn Tennissen | Jan 7, 2014

AUSTIN – The State of Texas has become the nation’s largest state to implement a mandatory electronic court filing (e-filing) system designed to digitize court filings.

Beginning Jan. 1, civil cases filed in the state’s 10 most populous counties (Bexar, Collin, Dallas, Denton, El Paso, Fort Bend, Harris, Hidalgo, Tarrant and Travis) and all case types in the Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals and 14 appellate courts, must be filed electronically.

Every six months, more counties -- based on population -- will make the change from paper to digital until all courts throughout the state are e-filing for civil cases by 2016.

Jefferson County will make the transition on July 1, 2014, while Orange County has a July 1, 2015, start date.

In 2014, Texas’ e-filing system, known as eFileTexas and available at www.efiletexas.gov, is expected to handle more than 3.5 million electronic court filings - more than any other state system in the country.

The system works by accepting electronic documents from attorneys and other filers via Web portals and securely distributes these documents to the appropriate county or appellate court where they can be accepted into the case management system of that court.

“E-filing promotes the efficient and uniform administration of justice,” said Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht. “In the 21st century, we no longer can rely on an 18th or 19th century vision for our systems. I think historians will look back on this time period and see that e-filing revolutionized our courts for the better.”

“A new year, brings a new vision for our courts,” said David Slayton, Administrative Director of the Texas Office of Court Administration. “E-filing is a technology solution that will save taxpayer dollars by eliminating paper and storage costs, simplifying access to public record information and allowing attorneys and courts to work more efficiently. With e-filing, one no longer has to wait in line at the clerk’s office, you can file from anywhere in the world 24/7 as long as you have an internet connection.”

Benefits of E-filing:

•             Quicker access to e-filed documents

•             Increased efficiency for attorneys and litigants

•             Reduced printing and mailing costs

•             Reduced storage costs for clerks

•             Greater security of court documents in the event of disaster

•             More efficient use of court staff

•             Increased transparency and access to courts

Plano-based Tyler Technologies is the technology infrastructure provider for eFileTexas.gov.

“The Texas judiciary saw the state’s massive size and scale not as an obstacle, but rather an opportunity to create convenience and cost savings for residents, courts and attorneys in each of the state’s 254 counties,” said Bruce Graham, president of Tyler’s Courts and Justice Division.

“By replacing slow, paper-based processes with e-filing, eFileTexas.gov reflects the consumerization of technology by government.  Progressive public-sector agencies like the Texas judiciary apply reliable, easy-to-use technology to bring the kinds of convenience and efficiency to government that we, as consumers, expect from technology in our daily lives.”

For more information visit www.efiletexas.gov.


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