SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's judicial system will move to electronic record keeping sooner than later, says Chief Justice Christine M. Durham.
Durham spoke before the House and Senate on Monday afternoon. Instead of discussing the state judicial system's budget, she chose to discuss how the judicial system has found ways to cut its budget for three consecutive years.
One of those ways has been the electronic-record project, which 2nd District Court in Davis County started in 2010 as a pilot program.
Durham said the courts system has already launched e-filing of civil cases, e-payment of fees, fines and restitution, e-documents, e-warrants and e-citations. Now, all paper files will be created online and clerks will no longer need to manually input data, Durham said.
The courts have developed a system for e-filing of criminal cases and will be ready soon for testing by several districts, she said.
Durham said for the public, "electronic access to court records means no more trips to the courthouse to conduct business that doesn't require a hearing."
Durham stressed that even though cuts have been made, the judicial system is still left with limited options.
About 93 percent of the state judicial system's general fund budget goes toward the people.
"So any further resource reductions would have to come from our existing court staff -- the very resource we are depending on to implement our solutions," Durham said.
The 2011 fiscal year budget is $130,411,000, or only 2.2 percent of the state's general fund budget, according to the 2011 annual judiciary report.
The report, given to lawmakers, pointed out the need for a new juvenile courthouse for the 2nd District. According to the report, referrals to the courthouse will increase by 41 percent by 2020.
The existing juvenile courthouse cannot meet the current needs nor will it be able to meet the projected future needs, according to the report.
In 2008, the Legislature approved funding to buy 4 acres for the new juvenile courthouse. The courts are asking legislators to fund the new courthouse this year.