Local IT Solutions Provider Helps eFileMA Advance from Pilot to Thriving Program
The Massachusetts court system’s e-filing initiative, which allows attorneys, state agencies, and self-represented litigants to file court cases and legal documents through a web portal, has completed a successful pilot phase and is now expanding. Boston-based Relational Semantics, Inc. (RSI), a provider of IT solutions and services for state courts and agencies, played a key role in the pilot’s success and is actively supporting the current program expansion.
The e-filing program, called eFileMA, was officially launched in 2015 with the aim of providing litigants a convenient way to file cases and documents while also reducing the courts’ time and costs associated with managing paper documentation. The pilot program rolled out in six courts, with three at the Appellate Court level – including the Supreme Judicial Court – and three at the Trial Court level. By early 2017 an internal review of the pilot program had concluded that the program was successfully meeting its objectives, and in March the Massachusetts court system proposed updated rules and procedures that would make the e-filing program permanent and expand its scope.
eFileMA’s expansion is well underway and has the program covering more case types, more document types, and more court locations. For example, at the Appellate Court level e-filing is now supported for criminal cases as well as civil cases, and for filing of motions as well as briefs. In the Trial Courts, e-filing is now available for 21 District Court locations and 7 Probate and Family Court counties.
As the maker of the Forecourt® electronic case management system (CMS) that has long been used by the Appellate Courts to automate their daily business processes, RSI has been integral to the e-filing initiative from the outset. RSI provided technical and operational expertise in helping the Appellate Courts design the initial e-filing pilot program; developed the Forecourt ECF Adapter to integrate the Courts’ CMS with the third party e-filing web portal; and provided ongoing support for systems integration and business process optimization in connection with the e-filing pilot.
“The e-filing pilot program entailed a range of technical issues, particularly around integration of systems from multiple vendors,” noted RSI President Bob Gorman. “Throughout the pilot we monitored the Courts’ core IT systems and identified, diagnosed, and resolved issues promptly to help keep the e-filing service running smoothly 24/7.”
Along with contributing to the success of the e-filing pilot, RSI provided the systems integration work to facilitate the recent expansions of the Appellate Courts’ e-filing service to include additional case types and document types. Looking ahead to the remainder of 2017, RSI expects to support further extensions of the program, such as to include e-filing for Single Justice cases (currently e-filing is available only for panel cases), and e-filing for impounded cases and documents. As RSI continues to help the Appellate Courts extend the scope of the e-filing program, the Courts can build on the progress they have made in reducing reliance on costly and cumbersome paper-driven business processes while at the same time improving services for users of the court system.
Relational Semantics, Inc. (RSI) has been building, deploying, and supporting IT solutions for state governments for three decades. Based in Boston, RSI serves the New England region exclusively. Our Forecourt systems for the judicial branch, and Paragon® systems for the executive branch, help state government meet core operational requirements like case management, application processing, data integration, mobile productivity, and public access.