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Clanton to implement digital system for court records

Technology can provide convenience for people from all walks of life, and municipal court is no different.

A new record storage and maintenance service could make things easier for those involved with Clanton Municipal Court.

The Clanton City Council voted Nov. 23 to approve entering a contract with ETA, which is based in Opelika.

The company offers a service of storing court records so that they’re accessible remotely, requiring only a computer and internet connection, by stakeholders including Municipal Court Judge Hollis Jackson, city prosecutor David Karn and others, according to Capt. Neil Fetner with Clanton Police Department.

“This will give them the opportunity to look at case files anywhere that is convenient for them,” Fetner said. “If something comes up, the judge can just log in and look at it from his office.”

Currently, officials had to physically visit the court, which is located at CPD, and browse through hard copies of case files.

Soon, all the files will be available digitally.

Fetner said the new system could be in place by Jan. 1, 2016.

Also, Jackson currently must hand write summaries—even for mundane cases such as traffic tickets.

The new system will allow such information to be entered by typing, even from behind the bench.

Fetner said the court handles an average of 400 cases a month. Some of the files for those cases are several feet tall.

According to the company’s website, ETA Data Direct Inc. has grown to be Alabama’s largest supplier of computer software to municipalities in the state.

Fetner said ETA works with about 100 municipalities, and the vendor’s expertise and customer service will be beneficial.

Clanton is purchasing licensing for about $6,000 and will pay $2,400 a year for cloud-based storage of the records.

Fetner said many similar services are much more costly, and the city will save money by not having to maintain a server.

“All we have to do is maintain an internet connection, and we do that anyway,” he said.

ETA will also offer date conversion of existing files at no extra cost.

“This is going to open up some flexibility for the judge and prosecutor and the court clerks,” Fetner said.