FLORENCE, Wisc. — When you think of legal proceedings, folders and filing cabinets, briefcases, and neverending piles of paperwork often come to mind, but some courts have made it their goal to reduce the paper and jump headfirst into the digital age.
“We just finally had enough and just said, ‘we’ve got to bite the bullet and go paperless,’ so now we are paperless,” said Tanya Neuens, Clerk of Court, Register in Probate, and Juvenile Clerk for Florence County.
The goal of eliminating paper documentation has helped save time and effort for the people at the Florence County Courthouse. By scanning court records into the system, it’s also made it easier for the public to access documents from a computer located right in the Clerk of Court’s office.
“You can come in here, and you can do a case search, and then you can type in – if you know the number or the person’s last name or whatever – you can type in their name, and every document that I have scanned, as long as it’s not marked confidential or sealed, you can see an actual copy of what’s in the file,” Neuens added.
The court in Florence also uses in-court processing to record information in real-time to the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access website – a publicly available site that can be used to research proceedings.
“They will see exactly what happened in court – what the person was sentenced to and stuff like that – even if the case isn’t closed out,” said Neuens, “and that’s instant. That’s right away.”
With everything dating back to 2010 already in the system, the Florence County Court has made huge strides in digitizing its entire collection of files. Work on older records, however, is ongoing.
“I’d rather have it all on my computer,” Neuens added. “Once the computer purges it, it’s gone. I don’t have to worry about finding that paper file. So I’m hoping to go back as far as I can.”