Electronic Signatures Among Technologies Helping Kansas Courts Go Digital

Mary Ellen Power, January 29, 2015

Electronic signatures and other advanced document management solutions are transforming the way many industries handle their records management processes. This is clearly evident across the legal system, as many courts are slowly but surely transitioning to the digital world. In time, Kansas hopes to have the entire state converted to an electronic case filing system, and it recently added the Finney County District Court to its list of locations where digital technologies are available, The Garden City Telegram reported.

According to the news source, the new electronic records management system is expected to save significant amounts of time and money as the county slowly begins to transition away from paper records. Of course, getting to the point where those savings are delivered hinges on having lawyers and other key stakeholders get on board with the transition away from paper filing.

Electronic Signature Laws Around The World

Electronic Signature Laws Around The World

More than 75 countries recognize the legal validity of e-signatures. This ebook provides a valuable introduction to the various legalities and legislative trends governing e-signatures around the globe.

Links to all legislation

Understanding the burden of paper
The report explained that the Finney County District Court's clerk office has paper records stored in three different sections. Initially, they were all in color-coded files in a part of the office, but they have since been expanded out into two separate areas to deal with capacity challenges. Just one section of these storage areas has approximately 10,000 paper files.

Christine Blake, a clerk for the Finney County District Court, told the news source that the transition to electronic records will be slow, but the county is making progress on a continual basis. Wendell Wurst, chief judge of the 25th Judicial District, explained that the move toward electronic records is representative of the entire country.

"Right now, we have many paper documents and they are maintained in paper files, which create storage and copying demands," Wurst told The Garden City Telegram. "The whole movement in courts throughout the United States and in Kansas is to move towards a paperless court system."

The cost and time savings of eliminating paper could be huge, Kurtis Jacobs, district court administrator, told the news source. Jacobs pointed out that approximately $4,000 is spent every year to maintain paper records. At the same time, 985 work hours are spent annually on preparing paper records and $7,000 will be saved annually on mailing and printing after electronic records are used in full. Furthermore, the district spends approximately $20,000 annually to convert old files to electronic form as needed, something that will not be needed in the future when court briefs are created digitally in the first place.

The burden of paper is clear, and courts moving toward electronic records processes can play a key role in eliminating these problems. Electronic signature software is a key enabler in this area as it gives lawyers, judges, clerks and other key stakeholders the ability to sign records in a secure manner that will hold up in court and allow them to handle even the most sensitive documents electronically.

E-signature solutions and criminal justice
Paper has tuned the entire legal sector into a slow moving industry. It often takes an extended period of time for even the most basic tasks to be completed, something that can be incredibly frustrating when the ponderous pace of the legal system gets in the way of executing justice. With electronic records management processes taking hold, everybody from police officers in the field to lawyers gathering key information for a case can get the support they need quickly. For example, electronic warranty solutions are allowing officers to quickly petition judges for warranties and get the permission they need to investigate cases.

Check out our resource on e-signatures in law to see how various firms and courts are using the technology to improve efficiency.