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A year ago, the Fulton County Superior Court Clerk’s Office introduced a handy enhancement to its Web site-access to scanned civil documents. Users could view and print complaints or court orders for free. But that feature, called the “Judicial Search,” now has been unavailable for about three months. A Web site message offers apologies and says the function is “temporarily down due to maintenance.” Cyndy Laurie, manager of the Data Systems Division of the clerk’s office, said Clerk of Court Juanita Hicks “had the vision” to establish the Data Systems Division that created the Web site. The site is separate from other county computer networks and, because it was developed by clerk’s office personnel, came at no extra expense to Fulton taxpayers, Laurie said. But Laurie said the Judicial Search function was taken offline in August for a redesign in order to address security issues concerning personal data filed in cases. “We are in the process of locating funding, due to a reduction in staff, to secure records such as financial affidavits,” she said. “We hope to have an answer on funding in the next 30 days.” Hicks was out of the office and unavailable to discuss the site. The easy availability of personal information, such as the financial affidavit filings required in divorce cases, once it is posted on the Internet has raised privacy concerns in courts across the country. Three years ago, the Cobb County Superior Court chief judge barred clerks from putting certain categories of documents on the Internet, according to articles in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Those documents included financial affidavits, child support orders, guardian ad litem reports and psychological reports. That information is still available to the public at the clerk’s office. In Fulton, the clerk’s Web site, www.fcclk.org, was launched the spring of 2002. It contained basic information on the office, telling patrons where to go, what to do and how much it cost to file, research or obtain documents. The site also listed contact numbers for various departments in the office; explained the difference between a quitclaim deed and a warranty deed; told how to calculate intangibles taxes; and had downloadable forms such as notices of publication, summons and subpoenas. In October 2002, clerks added the Judicial Search function. It gave the public access to documents and docket information that previously had been available only in the files and on computers in the clerk’s office. Users could search for suits by case number, party name or attorney name. They also could retrieve docket or hearing information, such as the date and time of the most recent hearing or soonest scheduled hearing. A case search provided information on the parties, filing date, type of case and current status. A docket listing of events and orders of the court was followed by links to images of the scanned filings. Those filings dated back to 2000, when Hicks’ office began scanning civil documents. Docket information, however, included cases that were decades old.

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