Marion County attorney files first online civil suit in WV - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Marion County attorney files first online civil suit in WV

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The Marion County Circuit Clerk's office will make history Tuesday when a local attorney files a civil suit online testing West Virginia's new e-filing system.

Attorney J. Scott Tharp of Tharp, Liotta & Yokum of Fairmont will file the trial case.

"It's going to save (counties) thousands of dollars and no one will be losing their job," Marion County Circuit Clerk Rhonda Starn said.. "And for attorneys it will be awesome – as long as they have an Internet connection and their (passcode), they can be sitting at McDonald's or even across the country and file their paperwork. It puts it everything right there, at your fingertips, wherever you're at."

West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent D. Benjamin was scheduled to attend a news conference in the clerk's office. The high court is picking up the tab for the statewide technology upgrade.

"We want to run this one case through the process so any errors encountered will be discovered now and removed," said Matt Arrowood, Director of the Supreme Court's Division of Circuit Clerk Services. "This approach will afford the Court insight to further ensure success when E-Filing rolls out statewide."

Starn said her office began scanning cases in 1998 under her predecessor, Barbara Core, who retired in August to take a job as liaison between the state judicial system and Software Systems of Morgantown, the company tasked with developing the actual case management system.

Core said the staff has already scanned some 3 million documents.

She said Marion County is one of about 12 in West Virginia already using Software Systems highly rated software, making the transition easier. Those 12 counties will be the first to migrate to the new system.

"There are two other counties – Ohio and Hampshire – that are using another software, but we're going to convert their images into our software system."

Core said she's hoping to have the 14 pilot counties online by September 2014. "After that, it will be (rolled out) one-by-one," she said.

Eventually, she said Pro-se litigants will be able to come into the clerk's office to file.

And once the system is fully implemented, case records will be searchable online though a subscription, which will be required.

"It's very exciting," Core said. "The whole purpose of e-filing is that once the courts have all of their documents scanned in, they can then get rid of those documents. You're talking about freeing up room in every courthouse in state."