In this day of technology, it is no surprise that the court systems are moving to using an Electronic Document Management System (EDMS for short) for parties to file documents with the Court, without even setting foot in the Courthouse. The district courts have been working on this conversion since early 2013; introducing and training courthouse staff before converting each county to EDMS filing. It won’t be long before every district court in Iowa is available using this system.
This can be a benefit to parties who no longer have to pay an attorney to go down to the courthouse every time a signature is needed from the Judge and can allow for much quicker turnaround times on certain Orders from the Court. This also allows parties to file documents outside of the normal hours of the court and can be an advantage to clients who want to sign up and track the progress of their case using the EDMS system. For those who use the system on a regular basis, it is fairly simple to learn, doesn’t require much training, and lets attorneys know almost immediately when filings are presented to the Court.
There can also be some disadvantages as it doesn’t allow the attorneys and judges to have the face-to-face contact that they once had and there are times that expected documents sit out in “space” waiting for attention from the Clerk’s office or a Judge so that they can be completed. It can also be harder for pro se clients who have to follow the same rules as attorneys; and without a legal background and knowledge of the technology, this can make it almost impossible for self representation.
Overall the implementation of EDMS in the courts has many advantages for attorneys and Judges in that they can more easily track cases and locate filings, it makes it easier to file documents in other counties immediately, without having to send them by mail or charge for them being hand delivered, and it makes it easier to meet filing deadlines by allowing documents to be filed any time, day or night. At this time there are only 13 counties left to be converted to EDMS, at which time every district court in the state will be accessible online. With the recent conversion of the Court of Appeals, it won’t be long before most cases can be handled without an attorney ever having to leave their office chair!