County Circuit Court goes online

County Circuit Court goes online

Almost a year ago, the state jerked more than $50,000 from Charlottesville’s Circuit Court after it found that clerk Paul Garrett falsely claimed his office’s records were online—state law required that all municipalities have their records online by July 2007. Then the General Assembly granted a reprieve for another year, extending the deadline to July 1, 2008.

“We’ll try to have land records available by the end of June 2008,” says Garrett, turning his attention to the city Circuit Court’s records. “We’ll try to have some other basic information available as best we can. We’ll see how the process goes.”

The Albemarle County Circuit Court has put its basic case information online, but Charlottesville Circuit Court has yet to join the virtual fun.

Albemarle County’s land records have been online since July, but are only available through subscription. The charge for secure remote access is $1,200 annually with a maximum of four users. A sole practitioner must pay a fee of $600.

Thanks to circuit court clerk Debbie Shipp, who was elected in November, Albemarle County Circuit Court recently joined the ranks of localities statewide to put their most basic court info online.

“I asked for it after I became clerk,” Shipp says. According to officials with the state Supreme Court, it is a very simple process. Courts have long used a computer-based case management system for record keeping. To make that system available publicly online, clerks make a request to the state Supreme Court to upload it to the state system.

“It’s there for the attorneys to get case numbers,” says Shipp.

The Web records include bare bones information on the names of the defendants and plaintiffs, and the current status of the case. Shipp says that more info is on the way, but that is dependant on the clerk’s office obtaining scanning machines from the state—which requires people to do the scanning. Before she was elected, Shipp was the deputy clerk and Dayna Awkard her assistant. Now Awkard is the deputy and new hire Pam Melampy—Shipp’s sister—the assistant.

Both general district courts are already online.

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