Those who tire of making the trip to downtown Effingham to seek details on court dates, payment information and case dispositions can breathe a little easier now that the Effingham County Circuit Clerk’s Office offers that information online.

Circuit Clerk Becky Jansen’s office went online at the beginning of last week. Jansen said there had been a clamor for the service.

“We wanted to better serve the public,” she said. “We had many requests for it from local and out-of-town attorneys, as well as the public.”

Jansen said the public ability to access information online also benefits her staff.

“It frees up some of our time to do more things we need to be doing,” she said.

Jansen said she didn’t make the decision to go online overnight.

“We did a lot of research and found that counties that have had it (online service) have an overwhelming response,” she said.

Jansen warned not everything involved in a particular court case will be available online.

“Anything that is not available to the public now will not be available on the Internet,” she said, adding portions of many court files are sealed or otherwise made confidential.

Those wishing passports must still come into the office in person. In addition, those wishing to plead guilty on a traffic charge must also do so in person.

The site can be accessed in two ways. One address is www.co.effingham.il.us. Patrons can then click on the link for circuit clerk.

But the site also can be accessed through www.judici.com. Once on the Judici home page, the online user can click on the link for “participating courts,” then a subsequent link for Effingham County.

Jansen said the public should find the service easy to use.

“It’s very user-friendly — very well-written, especially for those not well-versed in court,” she said. “It’s an economical way to serve the public.”

The county had to pay a one-time licensing and setup fee of $3,900 to Goodin Associates of Carbondale. In addition, there are maintenance and Web hosting fees of $82.50 per month for each service, also payable to Goodin. The expenditure did not require county board approval, though Jansen said she did receive approval from Circuit Judge Gene Schwarm before making the decision to go online.

Funding for the online system is generated by court costs, she added.

Jansen said it’s a deal that can’t be beaten.

“The cost is pretty minimal compared to what it can do for our office,” she said.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 132 or bgrimes@effinghamdailynews.com.

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