CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Attorneys in West Virginia will soon be able to file a lawsuit from any computer, as a new electronic filing system takes shape.
Designed to minimize errors, reduce waste and clear up space in circuit clerk's offices, the daunting task of scanning hundreds of thousands of documents will be worth it, according to former Marion County Circuit Clerk Barb Core.
On Tuesday, a lawsuit filed by J. Scott Tharp, a Fairmont attorney, in Marion County will mark the first time a case has been filed electronically in West Virginia, according to Matt Arrowood, director of the Supreme Court's Division of Circuit Clerk Services.
Earlier this year, the West Virginia Supreme Court announced a plan to make all filings systems electronic and the same. As a first step toward a statewide system for circuit clerks, 14 counties are participating in a pilot program using Software Systems, a Morgantown company.
Tuesday "will be the first time an attorney, from his office, will log onto a system, file his case and pay his filing fee by a credit card without ever stepping foot in a circuit clerk's office," Arrowood said Friday.
E-filing already is used in state mass-litigation cases. During the pilot period, attorneys will not be charged a fee for e-filing, like they are to file electronically for mass litigation.
"It's obviously a step forward," said Tharp, who has practiced law for 55 years. "I believe they figure if anybody as old and dumb as I am can handle it, it should be an inspiration for everybody."
The test run Tuesday will allow officials to get a feel for what works and what needs improvement. The complexity of the case Tharp plans to file will be a good indicator as it has numerous plaintiffs, he said.
"We'll see what the problems are then open it up to a few more attorneys in Marion County, deal with some issues and then open it up to all Marion County attorneys," Arrowood said.
Jefferson County is also expected to go live with its e-filing system early next year, according to Arrowood.