February 26

Maine’s chief justice wants court documents digitized

Leigh Saufley also urges bolstering resources to fight alcohol and drug addiction.

The Associated Press

AUGUSTA — Chief Justice Leigh Saufley urged lawmakers Tuesday to support the governor’s proposals to replace the court system’s outdated computer system to improve efficiency and to provide greater access to court documents. She also urged them to bolster resources to fight drug and alcohol addiction.

Saufley said during her State of the Judiciary address that the court’s current paper filing system is antiquated and costly and makes it difficult for the public to have access to court files.

“We currently handle court files the same way we did 100 years ago. We estimate that more than 5 million new pieces of paper are filed in Maine’s courts each year; that is not an exaggeration,” she said.

Digitizing those documents would improve public access to information and bolster public safety by making it easier for law enforcement, prosecutors, courts and others to exchange information, she said.

The bill before the Legislature this session would authorize funding for the purchase of a new case management system. A $15 million bond next spring would cover the costs.

Saufley also asked lawmakers to support Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s plan to boost the number of judges on special drug courts.

She called for hiring more judges, expanding the unified criminal docket in all 16 counties and reinvigorating the drug courts, which have seen a decline in enrollment.

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