Monday, August 11, 2014

Clerk Of The Cicuit Court's Message: Betting On The Future

By Pat Frank
I spoke to my senior staff the other day about changes ― on so many fronts.  I had just read an article on the “Economic Challenge: Creating Jobs,” by Lawrence H. Summers, former U.S. Treasury secretary and current Harvard University professor. He traced the changes in the American economy in the past 100 years, from primarily agrarian to the present, driven by technology, which seems to be upgraded constantly.
Professor Summers said there are many reasons to think that the software revolution will be even more profound than the agricultural revolution. This time around, he said, change will come faster and affect a much larger share of the economy.
In terms of the clerk’s office, technology continues to shape the way we do business ― internally as well as externally. It is so radically different from the time I first took office in 2005. We are implementing new systems across the board as I write, and we will change even more when we complete the process.
You know from personal experience that this is a new clerk’s office. Our “revolution” actually began in 2009, when we set out to replace our multiple case maintenance systems with a single, unified system ― to serve you far better and more efficiently.
Since we implemented the Odyssey system, the clerk’s office has been working methodically through all of our areas. We have implemented Odyssey thus far in the following court divisions: probate/mental health; family law; circuit civil; county civil; circuit criminal; county criminal; and juvenile dependency and delinquency. We are also on target to implement Odyssey in our civil and criminal traffic departments, which should be up and running when you read this article.
This new system has been instrumental in allowing our office to move forward on multiple fronts. Internally, our processes are becoming more streamlined, with far less paper. Instead of so many clerical-based positions supporting our paper environment, our employees are learning more technical skills, which will be required to handle and manage electronic data and records.
For you, our system has facilitated the implementation of electronic filing through the Florida Courts e-Filing Portal. This opens the “virtual front doors” to our office 24/7/365, allowing attorneys and self-represented litigants to file documents at any time of the day or night. Real-time confirmations are delivered to the filers, keeping them apprised of the filing status. The next benefit to the attorneys and general public will be the capability to access court documents online for many of the case files we maintain. These access levels have been established under the Florida Supreme Court Standards for Access to Electronic Records and will become available starting in the first half of 2015.
There are so many positive outcomes of our different world ― for you and for our employees, who are learning new skills in the latest technology. Although it is a different world, my hope is that it is also a better world on all fronts.