Beginning tomorrow, Hidalgo County will be the first county in the state to implement a criminal court electronic filing system in all of its courts.
The change comes more than two years after state Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, with support from Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, introduced House Bill 349, relating to electronically filing any court document in a criminal case in Hidalgo County.
The bill, which was originally filed in January 2013, was approved by lawmakers and signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry on June 14, 2013.
Hidalgo County courts already uses e-filing for civil cases after the Texas Supreme Court mandated that, beginning in 2014, courts would file electronically in civil cases, including family and probate cases, by attorneys in appellate courts, district courts, statutory county courts, constitutional county courts, and statutory probate courts.
Now, beginning Sept. 1, all criminal court cases in the county can be filed electronically with the court in the same manner, Canales’ spokesman Curtis Smith said.
Smith said Canales realized that courts that implemented e-filling, benefited in cost-savings and efficiency, making it easier to expedite case paperwork. Canales wanted to make sure the same happened in Hidalgo County. Smith said because the e-filing system is already in place for civil cases there are no additional costs attributed to the implementation.
Smith, who is the state representative’s chief of staff, said Canales’ bill proposal was inevitable based on the technology available and the court’s need to cut costs.