Running More Smoothly

By Alison Diana  |  Posted 2010-04-08 Print this article Print

After Hurricane Katrina destroyed numerous court documents, Gulfport Municipal Court streamlined its infrastructure, invested in a digital imaging solution, integrated three databases and stored data in multiple sites to prevent such a disastrous loss from ever happening again.

Running More Smoothly

The database enables the court to run more smoothly and make better use of court officers’ time, says Thompson. “Now we are docket-specific,” he explains. “For example, DUIs [driving-under-the-influence cases] and traffic cases are assigned on a specific time and date. Drug cases are heard on a specific date.

“We’ve reduced the time spent on continuances. This helps us, as well as the judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys.”

In addition, residents can now pay fines online rather than in court. And police officers have 24/7 access to outstanding warrants, which was previously unavailable when the court was closed, notes Thompson. Officers also spend less idle time in court, since the system notifies police of trial dates and times, rather than forcing them to attend arraignments. The system pulls that information right off the docket.

“One other benefit is that we’re interfacing with the police department so they have warrant information” when they need it, Thompson says. “They’ve never before had warrant information after hours, when no one was available.”

Today, Thompson is seeking additional funding to complete the records’ digitization. Once the paper records are scanned and verified, the files are shredded according to the court’s standards, freeing up valuable space. By October 2010, Thompson expects all the records to be digitized.

Also in the fall, the court expects to move from its temporary site into a new, modern facility. 

By streamlining its infrastructure, investing in a digital imaging solution and storing data in multiple sites, Gulfport Municipal Court has created order from chaos. It is now prepared for the worst that hurricane season can dish out, while fervently hoping that nightmare never returns.

Alison Diana is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.

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