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Judicial Branch’s eCourtMN Initiative Wins Innovation Award

Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2014

A multi-year project to improve the efficiency of Minnesota’s courts by replacing paper-based court files with an electronic information environment has been awarded a 2014 State Government Innovation Award. The eCourtMN Initiative, an effort of the Minnesota Judicial Branch, will be recognized as one of ten State Government Innovation Award winners by the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs during a ceremony on Thursday, August 7.

“The eCourtMN Initiative is the largest transformation in the 150-year history of Minnesota’s Judicial Branch,” said Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea. “This initiative will produce efficiencies in our court system and increase on-demand access to information for the public and our justice partners. This project represents true innovation and redesign in state government, and we are honored to have this recognition.”

Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea
Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea

The eCourtMN Initiative began in 2011, and is being completed in four phases, each lasting approximately one year. The initiative will transform the state’s court system by replacing paper-based court files with an electronic information environment that will allow electronic filing, service, and transfer of court documents. Through eCourtMN, court documents will be filed and served electronically, while judges and court staff will be given new tools to review, sign, and process court documents on their computers. Through this process, the delivery, processing, and transfer of court documents will be done almost entirely electronically, producing considerable efficiencies in court operations and faster results for court customers.

In addition, the move to electronic court records has made it easier for the public to access certain court documents without having to travel to county courthouses to view paper documents.

The Minnesota Judicial Branch has completed the first two phases of the initiative, including an 11-county pilot project where electronic filing and service of court documents was tested and refined. The Branch is currently testing the electronic tools that judges and court staff will use in the courthouse, and will begin the process of expanding electronic filing and service of court documents to the rest of Minnesota’s 87 counties next summer. A full, statewide transition to eCourtMN is expected by the end of 2015.

“While we are still in the early stages of eCourtMN, we are already seeing significant benefits for the court system, our customers, and the public” said Minnesota State Court Administrator Jeff Shorba. “We have realized efficiencies in our 11 pilot counties, and we have made it faster and easier for our customers to file court documents and gain access to court records. The eCourtMN Initiative is modernizing Minnesota courts while making our justice system more efficient and transparent.”

The 2014 State Government Innovation Awards are sponsored by the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center. The award is designed to “recognize the great work of state government agencies and encourage an environment of experimentation and innovation in Minnesota.” An award ceremony will be held on Thursday, August 7, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Minnesota History Center. More information on the award and the ceremony can be found at http://sgia.umn.edu/.

More information on the eCourtMN Initiative can be found at http://www.mncourts.gov/ecourtmn.