WILKES-BARRE ‚?? Attorneys from across the country can now file civil court documents in Luzerne County without having to set foot in the county prothonotary‚??s office.
Prothonotary Carolee Medico Olenginski said Friday her years-long effort to computerize the office has come full circle, with civil records already searchable online and now, attorneys and litigants being able to file online.
‚??We‚??re moving forward to the future,‚?Ě Medico Olenginski said. ‚??We‚??re really excited about it.‚?Ě
Medico Olenginski had been working since 1998 to get office documents accessible online, and that hope eventually became actuality in November when documents were put online to be searched by users from 2005 to the present.
During the summer of 2010, county commissioners voted to pay a Bensalem-based company, Paperless Solutions, $132,750 for an e-filing system, in addition to $20,750 per year for maintenance.
Those expenses are paid by the office‚??s automation account, which the state set up in 1998 to allow some county offices to use a special service fee to fund computerization.
‚??This system is at no cost to the taxpayers,‚?Ě Medico Olenginski said.
New computers and monitors purchased in November, as well as the records being available online were the first steps in the process. Beginning Friday, attorneys can log in, file and pay for documents from their offices.
Medico Olenginski said her office did a test run in December, conducted some upgrades and with the help of Judge Lesa Gelb, got approval from the local bar association and the state Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts
Medico Olenginski said it will take about five years for the office to see the benefits of what the office calls ‚??e-filing.‚?Ě
Eventually, she said, the office can cut down on future staffers because the system eliminates the need for cashiering, scanning, labeling, verification and filing of the documents.
Those filing documents online will be charged the same fee as if they were filing the documents in the prothonotary‚??s office, as well as a $2 convenience fee. That fee is paid to credit card companies.
Medico Olenginski said a feature added to the e-filing system allows filers to set up an account that they can withdraw from when filing so that they only have to pay the convenience fee once.
Fees range from $5 for a subpoena to $169 for a divorce filing.
Fees for accessing documents after conducting a search are 50 cents for the first page and 10 cents for each additional page. A $1.50 convenience fee is also charged.
Credit cards are required for filing and purchasing documents, though an individual can search records free of charge.
To set up an e-filing account: http://civilrecords.luzernecounty.org/efiling
To search and purchase records: www.luzernecounty.org click on ‚??row offices‚?Ě and then ‚??prothonotary.‚?Ě There will be a selection to view office documents and other e-filing information, including instructions on how to use the system.