AOPC’s Information Technology Department (Judicial Automation) is unique in several ways. First, it is funded by court fees rather than tax dollars. Second, it creates and supports systems that are used daily by the public, media, judges and judicial staff throughout Pennsylvania and the country. And finally, its systems are integral to the work of OTHER agencies. Law enforcement and executive branch agencies, as well as the legislative branch, use and rely on the judiciary’s computer systems.
The IT Department creates, maintains and updates statewide case management systems for all three levels of Pennsylvania courts and its administrative offices. Local court officials are able to access information about parties related to cases anywhere in the state. The systems are linked, allowing data to be shared on cases as they move through the court system.
For example, in 2014, 217,375 cases were electronically transferred from the Magisterial District Judge System (commonly called MDJS) to the Common Pleas “Criminal” Case Management System (called CPCMS), saving county court staff countless hours by eliminating the need for redundant data entry. Along with the Appellate Court Management System (called PACMS), these three systems docketed nearly 2.8 million cases in 2014.
In 2014, criminal justice system staff representing more than 20 criminal justice partners and law enforcement agencies depended on the case management systems to perform their daily duties. Those partners include probation departments, the Department of Corrections, district attorneys and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
The Unified Judicial System’s web portal provides access to tens of millions of cases which were viewed by users more than 65 million times last year, free of charge. Finding the information is easy – go to the top of this page and click on “Docket Sheets.”
The data maintained and shared by the Judiciary has had a far-reaching impact by improving public safety and the safety of law-enforcement officials (see how here), while also creating administrative efficiencies for courts and other criminal justice agencies.
Work with all courts continues as “e-filing” services are developed at several levels. For example, this year all three appellate courts will allow e-filing of documents. Allegheny County courts have been e-filing criminal complaints and Philadelphia courts recently began e-filing dependency and delinquency cases. Some local police departments have begun e-filing traffic citations, saving time and money. And the very popular PAePay allows people to pay fines, fees and restitution online. Collection amounts from PAePay continue to increase. Collections flow to the state budget, county and municipal governments, victims and other organizations. Less than 10 percent of the total collected goes to the Judiciary.
IT also designed and administers financial management and human resource systems for all levels and divisions of the judiciary.