Digital Courtroom Now a Reality In Harris County

In an effort to cut down on mountains of paper documents, Harris County officials are using a 21st century solution in a courtroom that's nearly 100 years old. State District Judge Tracy Christopher's docket in the civil courthouse downtown is now all digital.

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Judge Christopher is the first in Harris County to use a "paper on demand" system, where court documents are scanned into a computer and can be called up electronically from the bench.

Christopher is testing the system as part of a silicosis case she's hearing that involves thousands of documents. Instead of working with a pile of papers, she simply scrolls to particular case she's hearing and chooses documents she's like to review on her computer.

Lawyers in Harris County already have the ability to file documents electronically. Harris County District Clerk Charles Bacarisse says the new digital courtroom takes that technology a step further.

Judges will move into a new civil courts building early next year, a facility that has less storage room for paper documents and courtrooms wired to be digital.

Bacarisse says judges won't have to work with digital documents if they aren't comfortable with the technology and that some paper documents will still be needed in most cases.

Bio photo of Jack Williams

Jack Williams

Director of News Programming

News Director Jack Williams has been with Houston Public Radio since August of 2000. He's also a reporter and anchor for Houston Public Radio's local All Things Considered segments...