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VOL. 127 | NO. 142 | Monday, July 23, 2012

Q2 Court Filings Remain Consistent

By Bill Dries

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Court filings in Chancery, Circuit and Probate courts remained constant for the most part in the second quarter of 2012.

The consistency came as Circuit and Chancery began a shift to an e-filing system that should change the way both offices process filings.

Circuit Court, which has the largest number of filings of the three civil courts in Shelby County with 1,796, had a slight drop in filings from Q2 2011’s 1,819 and the first three months of 2012 when there were 1,840, according to The Daily News Online, www.memphisdailynews.com.

Divorces with and without children was the leading category with 553, followed by hospital liens and auto accident claims with 396 and 314, respectively. The three categories together accounted for more than two-thirds of the filings.

Divorces were also the leading category in Chancery Court filings with 148, which were also down from Q2 2011 and Q1 2012 when there were 172 and 169, respectively.

The 148 divorces were followed by 45 filings for the collection of delinquent taxes and 34 breach of contract claims.

The delinquent taxes category is a recent addition to Chancery Court filings that first appeared as a category in Q4 2011. It is a result of the automation of what had been a manual system of filing. That automation was a prelude to the e-filing system.

An e-filing system made its debut in Chancery and Circuit courts late in the quarter on June 25.

The two courts worked together on the software and filing procedures.

As of last week, 480 attorneys had registered to use the system. There are no fees to use the system.

Circuit Court Chief Administrative Officer Van Sturdivant said for now most attorneys are continuing the traditional method of filing that attorneys have used for more than 150 years – coming to the courthouse.

“We’re not getting bad feedback at all. I’m a little disappointed that we don’t have more going on. But it’s all in good time because they have to get used to it,” Sturdivant said.

“As they register and as they and their staffs become accustomed to the processes and what’s available, it will naturally evolve.”

Circuit Court Clerk Jimmy Moore and Chancery Court Clerk Donna Russell have said the e-filing system will mean some changes in the duties of office employees who will over time handle fewer filings at the counters and will be involved in more checking of documents as they come into the office via the e-filing software.

Both offices will still scan documents into the system at the courthouse for attorneys who bring in a printed copy of a document.

The 289 Probate Court filings for the second quarter were up from the same period a year ago when there were 265 but down from Q1 2012’s 326.

Wills were the leading category with 143 accounting for about half of the filings. That was followed by the appointment of administrators with 73, conservators with 61 and guardians with 12. Sometimes the conservators and administrators categories switch places in the quarterly rankings. But otherwise the probate filings are the most consistent of the three civil courts.

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