In the "be careful what you wish for" category, I got word today of appointment to the Georgia Courts Automation Commission. The enacting legislation in 1990 authorized the Commission to:

  • Define, implement, and administer a state-wide courts automation system;
  • Coordinate and cooperate with the state’s chief information officer with regard to planning, implementation, and administration of a state-wide courts automation system to take advantage of existing state resources where possible;
  • Receive electronic data from the civil case filing and disposition forms that are required to be filed in civil cases and that are transmitted to the commission by the Georgia Superior Court Clerks’ Cooperative Authority in a format and media agreed to by the commission and the authority;
  •  Compile the civil filings and dispositions data, and provide such data to the Administrative Office of the Courts;
  •  Participate in agreements, contracts, and networks necessary or convenient for the performance of these duties and for the release of the information from civil case filing and disposition forms;
  •  Administer federal, state, local, and other public or private funds made available to it for implementation of the courts automation system;
  • Coordinate state-wide strategies and plans for incorporating county and local governments into the courts automation system, including review of requirements of the several state agencies for documents, reports, and forms and the consolidation, elimination, or conversion of such documents, reports, and forms to formats compatible with electronic transmittal media;
  •  Establish policies and procedures, rules and regulations, and technical and performance standards for county and local government access to the courts automation system network; and
  • Offer advisory services to county and local governments to assist in guiding their efforts toward automating their court procedures and operations.

Since a high percentage of my work is in federal courts where online civil filing is universal and relatively user-friendly, I’ve grown accustomed to being able to file a pleading electronically and have it on the judge’s computer almost instantly.  Naturally, I would love to have the same thing in the state courts where I otherwise prefer to practice.  But online civil filing is just one piece of the puzzle.  An old friend who is a Superior Court judge told me recently of his adventures trying to automate his court where the far greater portion of the  caseload involves divorce, child support, criminal prosecutions, and other matters, many of which are filed without an attorney.  

To bring all the multiple courts in 159 Georgia counties into the 21st century is quite a challenge — technological, financial and political. It will not happen overnight.

Recently elected Secretary of the State Bar of Georgia, Ken Shigley has been designated as a "Super Lawyer" in
Atlanta Magazine and one of the "Legal Elite" in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, on the national advisory board of the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, and former chair of both the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He focuses his practice on representation of plaintiffs in catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases, especially those  arising from  motor carrier wrecks and accidents.