Guilford court records going digital in April

Jan. 17—GUILFORD COUNTY — The court system in Guilford County will transition from paper files to the state's new, cloud-based digital records-management system in late April, the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts announced.

The new system, called Enterprise Justice or simply eCourts, was launched in early 2023 with just four counties in the Raleigh area, Harnett, Johnston, Lee and Wake counties. Mecklenburg was added in October.

The transition has not been without problems, including difficulty uploading or finding documents in the system. Glitches in the eWarrants app have led to people being wrongfully rearrested after their cases were resolved, which is now the subject of a class action lawsuit against Tyler Technologies, the Texas-based company that developed Enterprise Justice.

State officials, wanting to modernize the state's outdated court filing system, awarded Tyler Technologies a $100 million contract in 2019.

The system will expand to 12 counties in northeastern North Carolina on Feb. 5, and then to 10 more central N.C. counties — including Guilford — on April 29. Randolph County is among a group of counties scheduled to be added to the system this fall, while Davidson and Forsyth counties won't be added until 2025.

The transition from paper records to Enterprise Justice is planned to be complete in all 100 counties by the end of 2025, with appellate courts soon following, NCAOC Director Ryan Boyce said.

"Enterprise Justice has accepted over 600,000 electronic filings and supports tens of thousands of daily searches for digital court records in North Carolina's largest population centers and five counties, jurisdictions serving nearly 3 million people," he said.

By replacing paper processes with cloud-hosted online access, Enterprise Justice provides the ability for the public to do free online searches of court records, the NCAOC says. Currently, a person has to go to each courthouse to see its court records.

It also will allow electronic filing of common legal actions through automated interviews. Several eCourts platforms already operate statewide, and more than 36,000 registered eWarrants users have issued 1.2 million criminal processes since the eCourts application for law enforcement replaced older systems in July 2022.

The NCAOC estimates that more than 2.3 million sheets of paper have been saved during the first two phases of eCourts by transitioning five counties to electronic filing and records access over a 10-month period. Historically, roughly 30 million pieces of paper a year have been added to court files in North Carolina.

Preparations and walkthroughs for each track of the eCourts transition begin months in advance to train court officials and the public on new technologies and processes, install network infrastructure in courthouses, and migrate case event data and court records from mainframe indexes and paper to the cloud-hosted platform.