Updated technology in the Winn Parish Clerk of Court’s Office will allow the public easier access to parish records, local Rotarians heard Oct. 25 when clerk Chesney Chandler was guest speaker.
Winn’s clerk of court opened comments to Rotarians with an excited statement that “The clerk’s office is online now!” This service will be of special interest to lawyers, abstractors, appraisers and title companies who can now access courthouse data without travel time and costs, she indicated. Residents or out-of-towners can access the public records of Winn Parish from their own homes or offices…or even cell phones.
Online access will be on a subscription basis, she explained. Cost to view the website is $20 per day, with a monthly rate of $100.
Records will include deeds and mortgages, civil and criminal filings and even marriage records. Courthouse records go back to 1886, the time when a courthouse fire destroyed all of the earlier records, but the online plan does not go that far back…yet. Mortgage records currently go back to 2006 while civil records are 2015. Mrs. Chandler says that complete online records are a longterm goal.
The changeover from paper to digital is not easy or quick, she noted, saying that it’s taken her three years to get to this point. “I’ve learned through mistakes. Other parishes have hired companies to come in to do this work. I try to support locally by hiring students parttime to come in and scan our books. You can do about two books in a day.”
Also available today are electronic filings or e-filings which allow documents like deeds, mortgages, mandates and powers of attorney to be transmitted electronically with the transmitted documents holding the same legal status as an “original.” This has not yet carried over into the civil arena. The clerk can email names to the official journal and attorneys.
The local office also has a new cash system and a new jury program which means that jury summons won’t be going out to people who have passed away. “Our program gives us access to the updated information from the Secretary of State’s Office.” While that database should be accurate as to deaths, individuals moving from the parish must contact the Registrar of Voters Office for their information to be updated.
E-filing in civil matters should be online within the next year, she said.
And for those who still prefer to do things “the old-fashioned way,” customers can still walk through the doors of the Clerk’s Office inside the Winn Parish Courthouse for their hands-on approach to going through the books.