‘Temporarily Unavailable’

With state e-filing system down, courts go back to ‘traditional’ paper filing

In a highly-digitalized world, when online systems crash, things slow down.

That is the case at courthouses across Iowa, as the state’s court electronic filing system went down Tuesday and remains unavailable.

“It was a security patch they installed Friday, and then Monday they started having problems, the system was up-and-down,” said Iowa Judicial Branch Communications Director Steve Davis on the Electronic Document Management System (EDMS) crash.

He said it’s unclear when the program will be back to normal.

“It’s a very large project, a very large database, and I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but they’re working on it right now, and all night [Tuesday] night,” Davis said.

On Tuesday, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady issued an order authorizing clerks of courts to accept paper filings as a result of the program issues, Davis said.

“So now, instead of filing it electronically 24/7, it’s filing with paper files during office hours of the clerk of court,” he said, adding this is the first time EDMS has been down “for this length of time” since it’s implementation.

In Marshalltown and Marshall County, the impact of the crash is slowing down the sharing of court documents.

Marshall County Sheriff Steve Hoffman said documents are still being delivered to the county clerk of court.

“[Deputies] are doing things how they have been doing them, and we’re taking care of making sure that the documents get sent by conventional means,” Hoffman said. “For a search warrant, for example, rather than submitting that electronically to a judge during business hours, we would do like we did prior to EDMS and physically take a warrant request to a judge.”

He said jail and clerical staff have been either scanning and emailing court documents or delivering them to the clerk of court physically.

Marshalltown Police Department Records Supervisor Anne Davis, of no relation to Steve Davis, said court document sharing has slowed due to the EDMS service issues.

“Through the records department, we’re having to either pile and wait or revert back to the old paper trail,” she said. “It’s not slowing the officers down, they’re still doing their jobs as normal; it’s just the recording of what they’re doing has hit a big snag because EDMS isn’t working.”

Steve Davis said attorneys and self-represented litigants who want to file documents with courts are being impacted as well.

“There has been a slow-down going from being able to file from the office to now going to the courthouse and filing,” he said, adding he hadn’t heard of any major issues from courthouses due to the slowdown.

The EDMS system was fully implemented in the state on July 1, 2015, and the very first court document electronically filed was in January of 2010 in Plymouth County, Davis said.

He added Plymouth and Story counties acted as pilots for the e-filing program, and it was implemented county-by-county until it was used throughout the state.

For more information on EDMS, visit www.iowacourts.gov/eFiling/Overview/

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com