E-filing of court documents saves time, OSBA chief says

By Peter H. Milliken



Electronic court document filing and other new uses of technology represent the wave of the future in the legal profession, said the president of the Ohio State Bar Association.

“Electronic technology is the key to the future, and we need to use technology as a tool to help lawyers deliver good quality legal services,” said Jonathan Hollingsworth of Dayton, president of the Ohio State Bar Association.

Hollingsworth was here Tuesday for an informal question-and-answer session before an audience of about 80 lawyers and judges at the annual luncheon meeting of the association’s District 13 at the Youngstown Country Club.

The association membership includes about 25,000 lawyers and judges and nearly 4,000 legal assistants and law students.

District 13 has 462 members in Mahoning and Columbiana counties.

“Electronic filing is a good thing for the legal profession” because it eliminates the need to mail documents to the clerk of courts or to walk or drive to the courthouse to file them in person, Hollingsworth explained. “If I can file electronically, it’s there in a matter of seconds,” even if the document is being sent from a long distance away, he observed.

Electronic document filing, which is mandatory in the federal courts, is not available in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, where all documents must be filed on paper, either in person or by mail.

Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, however, has formed a Documents Assessment and Recommendations Committee, consisting of court and data processing officials, which has been meeting weekly since Sept. 24 to study the matter, said Tony Vivo, clerk of courts.

“When we go to e-filing, we want this thing to work,” Vivo said. “You don’t want to be the first one to jump in the lake,” he said, adding that the committee is studying the experience of larger Ohio counties, such as Franklin, Montgomery and Hamilton counties, which have e-filing in their common pleas courts.

“It’s too early to tell the cost,” said Kathi McNabb-Welsh, chief deputy clerk of courts. The committee, of which she is chairwoman, will make a recommendation in December, but no decision has been made whether to have e-filing here, she said.

Atty. Jackman S. Vodrey of East Liverpool was recognized for 50 years of law practice; and Atty. George P. Millich of Youngstown received the Ohio State Bar Foundation Community Service Award for Attorneys 40 and Under.

Atty. Steve Bolton of Youngstown was elected to a three-year term as a member of the OSBA board of governors; and Atty. Don Humphrey Jr. of Lisbon, an assistant Columbiana County prosecutor, was re-elected to a two-year term on the association’s council of delegates. Both new terms begin in July 2014.

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