Steve Rogers

About Steve Rogers

Assistant News Director/Assignment Editor; degree in finance and administration from Yale University; 35 years experience in journalism.

Video: Local Courts Soon To Go Online

gavelGolden Triangle, Miss. (WCBI) – The federal courts have been doing it for years, and the Mississippi Supreme Court has been working on it for 10 years. Now, some Northeast Mississippi counties are leading the way in the state.

You can do almost anything on line these days, except for when it comes to finding out what’s going on in chancery and circuit courts in Mississippi. That’s changing. For decades, any paperwork, case or motion filed in Clay County Circuit Court was entered by hand in thick ledgers.

This changed last summer when the Clay County Circuit Court became part of the Mississippi Electronic Courts System, or MEC. It’s an internet-based document filing system allowing courts to maintain electronic case files and offer electronic filing.

“It helps speed the process,” said Clay County Circuit Court Clerk, Bob Harrell.¬†Harrell says the system allows everyone to keep better track of court documents.

“Every time a document is filed, any attorney of record is also noticed. They get a notice electronically through their email to let them know something has been filed in a case. Which also creates less confusion saying, ‘Your honor, I didn’t get this document,” said Harrell.

Downstairs, a vault holds more than a hundred years of court filings. The new system will eliminate the need for storage space and Clay County Chancery Clerk Amy Berry feels it has made things much safer.

“It’s benefited our office from a preservation standpoint, it definitely is the safest way to ensure we have backup images and copies of all files,” said Berry.

Webster County Chancery Court went online last year as well and just this week, Lowndes County Chancery Court made the switch to MEC. Clint Pentecost helped train staffers on the new system and as an attorney, he knows firsthand the benefits of e-filing.

“One of the greatest benefits was 24-hour access to court files and the ability to file documents with the court anytime of the day,” said Pentecost

Local attorneys will have special training next month to help them make the transition. Then by May 1, the Lowndes County Chancery Court will be paperless.

Circuit and chancery court clerks say the new system likely won’t phase out any jobs but will bring more long-term efficiency with existing staff.