eCourts software causing more delays than anticipated

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Problems with a new software digitizing court records surfaced after its debut in Eastern Carolina counties two weeks ago.

eCourts has been integrated into 12 Eastern Carolina counties since February 5, 2024. It’s a software system that takes records out of the physical filing system and puts them online, and it aims to make court documents more accessible to the public and court personnel.

However, the software raised concerns after a 41-page amended lawsuit said the software has holes that caused repeat arrests, longer jail and/or prison times, and user headaches.

To prevent a similar situation, District Attorney Seth Edwards says they limited cases on dockets and did not 100% digitize, but says obstacles are still arising.

It’s the wave of the future and we do not have space in our courthouses to keep stacking up paper,” says Edwards. “And for years, what we’ve been doing in my small DA’s office, we’ve been scanning paper files into the computer and destroying the paper filed because we simply don’t have shelf space.”

He says sessions are taking longer than anticipated and the clerks of court and users are facing the largest learning curve.

“I think it’s good and bad,” says Edwards. “There are some aspects of eCourts that will increase efficiency, but there are also some aspects of eCourts that, frankly, are going to be less efficient than just writing something down on a piece of paper and sticking it into a court file.”

eCourts has upped the number it takes to get tasks done or updated like sharing police reports, ensuring financial payments are done correctly, and managing case files in general. Edwards says the software filing system has also uprooted automatic communication lines previously in place with other government entities like the DMV, police departments and sheriff’s offices, and staff within the courthouse.

“There’s a lot of financial aspects to the eCourts as how as how the court system takes in money,” says Edwards. “and there are numerous extra steps on the clerks of court in order to intake the money and receive it, and so that is going to a take a while for the adjustment.”

He says they are actively communicating with the pilot counties, Wake, Harnett, Lee, Johnston, and Mecklenburg Counties, to find and create solutions.

Edwards resided over Beaufort, Hyde, Tyrrell, Washington, and Martin Counties. He asks and thanks the public for their continued patience.