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Plan for court records online goes offline

Andy Ouriel • Apr 25, 2013 at 3:56 PM

Downloading a massive file on dial-up Internet seems supersonic compared to how long it has taken to upload Erie County court records online.

A Register story in late February quoted Wilson as saying digital court records would be available by late March.

Fast forward two months. Court records remain offline.

“No one is more disappointed than I,” Wilson said, declining to provide a new date for when the records could be uploaded.

Techies helping upload documents experienced difficulties when attempting to transfer thousands of older pictures into computerized images.

Problems also ensued when the workers couldn’t redact private information from the documents, which date back to 2000.

“Until that has been corrected, I am not going to go live for the public,” Wilson said. “The accuracy of the information has to be one of my paramount concerns.”

For years, community members have waited patiently to see court records online — a resource provided in many other Ohio counties. Former clerk of courts Barb Johnson, who died in October 2011 while in office, repeatedly failed to deliver on this promise.

“It can be very frustrating when trying to assist clients because the records aren’t accessible,” Norwalk attorney Doug Clifford said. “If you look at Lorain, Huron and other surrounding counties, you’ll find that many clerks offices have been online for years.”

Wilson, who immediately succeeded Johnson in fall 2011 and won a full four-year term beginning in January 2013, vowed to make the office more efficient and technologically friendly.

“It is time to be trailblazers, not just trailers,” Wilson said.

Clerk employees will continue adding both old and new cases online once the initial batch of 1 million is uploaded, Wilson said.

Once court records go online, there won’t be a fee to download or read through them.

“The greatest benefit to the consumer is that of convenience,” Wilson said. “This will permit the user, whether a person or attorney, to view what is in the case file without having to come into the courthouse.”


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