Electronic filings for civil and family cases will become mandatory in Washington County District Court beginning Sept. 16.

While the change at first will hold more meaning for attorneys and judges than the public, the conversion from the traditional practice of paper filings eventually will make court files more accessible to everyone.

“We appreciate the fact that it can be pretty confusing to people not trained in the law,” said John Kostouros, spokesman for the Minnesota Judicial Branch in St. Paul. “This will be the first time where you will be able to see a case filed in another county.”

By mid-September, public computers in courthouses in 11 counties will have the e-filings on a searchable database. Someone in Washington County, for example, can search court records in Washington, Ramsey, Hennepin, Dakota, Cass, Clay, Cook, Faribault, Kandiyohi, Lake and Morrison counties. All are pilot sites for the conversion, which by 2015 will involve all Minnesota counties.

Kevin Giles