South Carolina’s court system is now one of the nation’s best for using the internet to handle court records.
That’s according to the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court Jean Toal, who addressed the Legislature in a joint session Wednesday. Toal said South Carolina is recognized as a national model for putting court records online for public use.
Toal said South Carolina moved early to take advantage of the internet.
The internet was brand new 12 years ago, when I became your Chief Justice. It wasn’t much used by business or by government as a records-management tool. But it was cheaper and a lot more user-friendly. When I saw that my children could operate this system, I said, “Gosh. there’s something in this.”
The state’s court system used more than $40 million in federal funds to create the digital sytem. The system features a centralized database that connects with courts statewide to put documents online. It also uses an imaging software to convert physical paper documents into online files.
Toal and other judicial officials fought state legislators to keep them from slashing the judiciary system’s $37 million budget last year. The Chief Justice said Boeing’s interest in the online database was a big reason the Legislature decided back down in the end.
When court funding was in peril, Boeing’s representatives stepped forward publicly to emphasize that a stable court system, and such innovations as the business court docket, were key considerations in Boeing’s decision to make a major investment in South Carolina.
According to a preliminary budget released by the House Ways & Means Committee, the judiciary system is scheduled to keep its budget intact and receive an additional $5 million to expand its electronic filing system.
Toal said she recognizes the needs for cutbacks, however. She said she hopes to create a more efficient “business model” for the court system.