Court News: e-Court Filing Fees and Public Access Issues Still in the Works
By: Kristen Senz
The first phase of New Hampshire’s ambitious electronic court project is scheduled to launch July 30, but a full rundown of the new case-filing fee structure, including information about how a 3 percent credit card transaction fee will be applied, has yet to be announced.
The NH Judicial Branch also has not worked out the details of how members of the public will access court records in the online system. It’s unclear what allowing public access to online court records might mean in terms of the state revenue earned through providing criminal record checks to employers, said Donald Goodnow, director of the NH Administrative Office of the Courts.
“It turns out to have a lot of moving parts,” he said. “We’re treating public access as a separate project on its own.”
There will be no additional filing fees when the court goes live with the small claims pilot in Concord and Plymouth later this month, but the NH Judicial Branch does plan to add a new filing fee in the future. The fees are meant to offset the value to the lawyer or litigant derived from using the electronic system, Goodnow said, and to help recoup some of the project costs.
The NH Judicial Branch is still in talks with software vendor Tyler Technologies about altering the system for fee collection and public access, according to Goodnow.
“Those are all matters that are going to be resolved in the future,” he said.
The 3 percent credit card transaction fee raised concerns at a training session in June, when lawyers inquired about how to account for the fee while remaining in compliance with trust accounting and ethics rules. Goodnow said the court is now “trying to get that implemented in a way that is easiest for the lawyers to do their trust accounting work.”
NH e-Court Project administrators last month approached the Governor’s Capital Budget Committee with an update on the project and a request for an additional $3.2 million in the next biennial state capital budget. The total cost of the project, which is expected to bring 12 case types online by June 30, 2017, is projected to be $8.4 million.
The court hopes to have e-filing forms available on the court’s website by July 25.