Mandatory e-filing began in DuPage County on January 1st of this year. Mandatory e-filing is required for all civil cases. DuPage County is the first county, and so far the only county, in the state to require mandatory e-filing for all civil matters. In order to accommodate patrons and attorneys who do not have scanning capabilities, the courthouse has four e-filing stations in the clerk’s office: one in the law library and one in the attorney resource center. This e-filling process has been a learning experience for all involved. The library staff, clerk’s office staff, and judges’ secretaries have all had basic training on e-filing. The questions we get the most from patrons and attorneys are: “Is it really mandatory?” and “Do I really have to e-file?” The answer is yes. For some of our tech savvy patrons and attorneys this was great. It meant they only had to actually come into the courthouse if they had to. For our not so tech savvy patrons and attorneys, it has been and continues to be a learning experience.
The program allows a person filing a case to browse and attach documents to the appropriate case. If patrons or attorneys have access to a computer and know how to save documents to the desktop they are able to e-file easily from home or their office. If patrons fill out paper forms and then want to upload them we run into the problem of them not having access to a scanner unless they come to the courthouse or go to their local public library. So far, so good. Our regulars are used to the process and have become accustomed to e-filing everything. The attorneys that only have to file in DuPage County occasionally are still adapting.
In December of 2015, before e-filing was mandatory, we had a 39% e-filing rate. At the end of January of 2016, we had achieved a 76% e-filing rate. As of September 2016, we have a 96% e-filing rate. We will never be at a 100% rate due to the filing of wills and inmate letters.
The biggest lesson after almost a year of mandatory e-filing is that we all, patrons, librarians, clerk’s office staff, etc., must continue to practice patience.