The US federal court system works with significant backlogs of cases. Quicker case resolution and faster jurisdiction are essential for businesses, citizens, and legal professionals.
In response to the pandemic, courts resorted to online proceedings via digital channels when in-person hearings were not feasible. Even after in-person proceedings have resumed, digital transformation of the legal system continues to speed on ahead. Digitizing court records—both new documents and archived ones- is mission-critical to speed up processes while maintaining data security and avoiding errors that can be detrimental to justice.
Document management lies at the heart of the legal system
Documents are pivotal to our legal system. A wide variety of papers are presented to judges or produced daily in a court of law. Some of these are public records; they are available to the public, and some are highly confidential and available only to authorized personnel. There are clear and distinct regulations for handling and storing public and sensitive records. Paper records have many disadvantages, and processing paper slows down legal proceedings.
Digital documents are easier to regulate and control than traditional paper. As a result, digitizing documents is mission-critical to speed up court proceedings, better manage essential and confidential documents, and empower other downstream digitization efforts.
Digitizing court documents enables effective use of time and resources—cases go ahead without delays, the unavailability of physical records does not hinder communication between parties, and trials take less time for resolution.
Digital court records: Introducing the court system to the digital realm
Introducing digitization or court automation means adopting technology that reduces or eliminates human activities associated with the processing of judicial cases.
Technology by no means is limited to basic equipment such as computers. It encompasses a variety of features, including electronic case filing, e-calendars for scheduling, online notifications, etc.
Some of these key e-features that need document management support are:
- Filing an initial complaint (e-filing)
- Serving the defendant with the initial complaint (e-service)
- Paying court fees (e-payment)
- Managing case documentation via an ECM (Electronic Content Management System) for both judges and lawyers
Digitization of legal documents required for court proceedings is the first step toward court automation.
The World Justice Project Rule of Law Index is the world’s leading source for original, independent data on the rule of law. The WJP Rule of Law Index 2020 relies on national surveys of more than 130,000 households and 4,000 legal practitioners and experts to measure how the rule of law is experienced and perceived worldwide.
The WJP data indicates a positive correlation between the number of court automation techniques and access to justice as measured by the Civil Justice Factor of the World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index.
Over 90% of economies that have not implemented any court automation techniques are in the 0.20 – 0.60 range on the Civil Justice Factor. Economies that implemented more than four court automation techniques scored 0.60 or higher. The highest-scoring country, Denmark (Civil Justice score of 0.86), has put the most court automation features into practice.
The benefits of digital court records
There are many advantages to digitizing court records. Let’s look at the some of the most important ones:
Save on paper storage and retrieval costs
Digitizing records saves expensive storage space. Paper record maintenance is resource-intensive. Staff members must search out and fetch the required files from archives or storage areas and transport them to the court locations where they are to be presented. Digital records are much easier to store, search, retrieve and access from diverse locations. Digitizing records frees up expensive real estate space, relieves staff from tedious and manual tasks, and speeds up documentation requests for court proceedings and other legal systems and associated departments.
Improved accessibility to legal documents
Digitizing court documents means that documents required for proceedings or as evidence can be shared and transferred quickly and securely via a document management system. Lawyers and judges can access them for their perusal anywhere or on any device, so work proceeds faster. Digital documents also make it easier and faster for multiple government agencies to share, access and utilize important information agencies, e.g., police departments, judges and lawyers from the defense or prosecution.
DRS can help ensure your data is compliant and stored correctly using a combination of industry expertise and robust legal management software.
Mercury, our content management system, can analyze all information about a case. It functions like a legal case management software solution and can save your law firm or legal department countless hours of manual labor.
Faster adjudication of cases
Tracking down archived physical documents in time for case hearings can be difficult and time-consuming. DRS offers automated data capture and robust document indexing tools to create a digitally searchable document repository with controlled access. In addition, the digitalization of downstream processes using our advanced workflow automation solutions also speeds up legal processes.
Enhanced security and ease of compliance
Legal and court documents often contain some amount of sensitive or personally identifiable information (PII), and courts and legal firms must ensure that the security of this information isn’t compromised. Data in paper documents can be challenging to protect. Hard copies of documents can get lost or misplaced due to mislabelling or inconsistent filing systems. Paper is also prone to age-related wear and tear and deterioration due to natural accidents like flooding or fires. With digital records, you can set up user permissions, enable audit trails for tracking usage, and provide read-only access to the general public. Mercury enables information to be easily accessed while still protecting access to sensitive data.
Enable backups and disaster recovery plan
Digital files allow for convenient and affordable backups using cloud-based storage. That means copies of your data are always available even in emergencies or disasters. Creating and executing a disaster recovery plan to protect information and make your data storage compliant with information governance regulations is also easier. DRS has a hosted, private cloud storage solution for customers looking for a scalable, easy-to-use solution that isn’t a public cloud.
DRS: Your go-to partner for digitizing court records
DRS Imaging is your ideal partner for digitizing physical and legacy documents in the public domain and those that are highly confidential in nature. These could be digitizing legacy documents at once or progressive scanning of case papers as needed.
DRS also provides ongoing scanning support to digitize new incoming documents daily via our Digital Mailroom service.
Our backfile scanning service is ideal if you want to digitize a large volume of archived or legacy documents as a one-time high-speed scanning project.
Mercury, our content management system, enables secured access and provides document security for scanned and native digital files.
Connect with DRS for expertise in digitally transforming your legal processes and ensuring the security and confidentiality of digital court records to meet regulatory compliance.