McHenry County, Illinois Goes Live with aiSmartBench
Realizes Goal of Paperless Courtrooms
“The implementation of the aiSmartBench system is an extremely important step forward for our Court in McHenry County as we continue to move further into the automated electronic age. I am very grateful to all the Judges and Court Administration Staff for their hard work and support as we have worked through the process of implementing aiSMARTBENCH in McHenry County,” said Chief Circuit Judge Michael J. Sullivan. “This could not have been accomplished without the collaboration and dedication of Kathrine Keefe, Circuit Clerk of the Court and the fine staff of the McHenry County Information Technology Department.”
“In a paperless work environment, it would be almost totally impossible for a judge to access necessary court information and records in a timely and efficient manner without an electronic support system such as aiSmartBench. One of the responsibilities of a chief judge is to provide the judges in the circuit with adequate support tools to allow the judges to promptly and efficiently perform their judicial duties; aiSmartBench allows that,” Judge Sullivan continued.
One of the responsibilities of a chief judge is to provide the judges in the circuit with adequate support tools to allow the judges to promptly and efficiently perform their judicial duties; aiSmartBench allows that
The 22nd Judicial Circuit of McHenry County procured the system in response to its Request for Proposal for a Judicial User Interface System in 2014. aiSmartBench, inspired by judges and developed for judges, is one of the first judicial decision support systems to become available in the marketplace. It transforms the traditional courtroom workflow with efficiencies that exceed the current paper processes. Currently, four judges are using the new system – Circuit Judge Charles Weech (Criminal Bench), Circuit Judge James Cowlin (Criminal Bench), Associate Judge Suzanne Mangiamele (Civil/Chancery Bench) and Associate Judge Mark Gerhardt (Criminal Bench). More judges are expected to begin using the application in 2016.
aiSmartBench, a .NET application, provides judges, magistrates, case managers, clerks and judicial assistants one-click access to the solution where they can securely perform high-speed, full-text searches within a particular document or across all documents for a particular case all while in the courtroom, in chambers, at home, or on the road. Dynamic, on-the-fly generation and e-signing of court orders eliminates the need for paper files.
“The installation of this new system is a huge benefit for everyone involved and eventually the return on the investment will reduce the overall costs of maintaining paper files, while increasing efficiency. From the judge’s perspective, aiSMARTBENCH provides secure, easy-to-use and configurable access to real-time data from the case management system, full-text searching capability across all documents and dynamic ways for managing the day’s docket,” said James Wallis, 22nd Judicial Circuit Trial Court Administrator. “Further this a significant step in achieving the E-Record initiative of the Illinois Supreme Court and could only have occurred with the assistance of the Circuit Clerk of the Court, Kathy Keefe,” Wallis continued.
“We are thrilled to have achieved our milestones of providing judge training and now reaching Go Live status in the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court in McHenry County, Illinois. Because aiSMARTBENCH is designed from the ground up for judges, it is the ideal solution for McHenry County for achieving timely and efficient administration of justice,” said Leo LaCascia, Mentis’ founder and President.
The aiSmartBench solution was created to match the fast-paced courtroom giving single- touch access to critical information. Because no judge runs his or her courtroom like any other judge, aiSmartBench gives the judges the ability to customize their own workspace based on their individual preferences. McHenry County can take advantage of an in-court system that delivers compelling features to judges while it adopts new solutions to help realize the paper-free courtroom vision.
“I believe the versatility built into the aiSmartBench system will be a great asset to the judiciary as it will enable the individual judge to adapt the application to their specific needs improving the efficiency of recurring tasks and enhancing the courtroom experience for all involved in the justice system,” Associate Judge Mark R. Gerhardt added.
Phase one of this project began over a year ago and it is anticipated to take three ears to complete the second phase of the project which will ultimately provide all of the judges of the 22nd Judicial Circuit access to aiSmartBench. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $367,186.00. All costs for the project are being paid from fees collected by the Circuit Clerk of the Court for the automation of the court and not from the McHenry County General Fund. Return on investment measures developed by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) indicate the following:
- The Circuit Clerk of the Court’s Office handles, manages, files and scans approximately 550,000 pages each. By receiving, storing and using these paper documents at an estimated cost of $0.58 per page, the annual cost is $319,000.00. By establishing E-Record relying on electronic images, the cost is reduced to $0.22 per page or an annual cost of $121,000.00, a cost reduction of $198,000.00 in the first year.
- By averaging the amount of time spent filing documents, pulling files, and maintaining paper case folders, it is estimated that nearly 276,984.6 minutes or 4,616 hours in manpower can be saved annually.