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Ironton court gets grant for upgrades

The Ironton Municipal Court has received a grant that Judge Kevin Waldo says will lead to a money-saving reduction in court paperwork.

The court received an Ohio Courts Technology Initiative grant in the amount of $62,010.10 on April 26.

“This is a grant the Supreme Court has to upgrade all courts in Ohio with a goal of becoming paperless,” Waldo said.

He said the biggest change will be in the way the court notifies people to appear, with email and text notifications being sent instead of paper mailings. Waldo said these certified mailings can cost up to $100,000 a year.

“To render that obsolete and not necessary, over the years, the savings will be enormous,” he said. “We can accomplish this service without paper.”

He said such electronic notifications would be designed so that the court would know if they were received and opened.

For the rare cases of those without cell phones or email, he said some sort of paper system would still be used.

“Receiving theses notice are due process,” he said of the need to notify people to appear in court. “You can’t take someone’s life, liberty or happiness without that. And I can’t issue a bench warrant if no verification was received.”

Waldo said upgrades will extend to the courtroom itself.

“When I go to look at a case, I will have a computer available and immediately fill out what happened,” he said. “The judgment entries will be available at my fingertips, within seconds.”

Waldo said the conversion will begin in June and they hope everything is in place by April 2020.

“It will be about a nine-month process,” he said.

J.T. Holt, law clerk with the court, said the changes will also allow people to look at court filings online and make payments electronically as well.

He said it will also lead to greater transparency, allowing access to public hearings.

“It’s about accountability,” he said.

Waldo agreed, stating transparency was a major issue during his campaign in 2017.

“We want this to be an open book and to reduce costs,” he said.

Waldo and Holt said the grant will make the city’s court a leader in the state, putting in the top five in this field.

“We’re way out front on this,” Waldo said.