Mecklenburg to put some court case records online

As part of a pilot to bring greater access to court files, the Mecklenburg Clerk of Superior Court is plans to place documents from high profile cases online this month. The first two cases include a domestic violence charge against a Carolina Panthers player and a manslaughter charge against a former police officer. 

Newly elected Mecklenburg Clerk of Superior Court Elisa Chinn Gary announced plans last week to move some case files online so the public would have easier access. Gary ran for office on a platform that included using new technology to improve public access. When the system goes online later this week, Mecklenburg will become the first county in the state to place key documents from court files online in an openly accessible place. 

Court systems around the country have been moving toward electronic court filings, which can be opened up to give greater public access. North Carolina’s appellate court filings moved online a few years ago and their files are accessible to the public. Four counties are piloting a test of an electronic filing system, but so far it is only open to judges, clerks, attorneys and others who work in the courts of Alamance, Chowan, Davidson and Wake. In order to access files in the pilot system, people have to receive a user ID from the Administrative Office of the Courts and attend training. 

In Mecklenburg, though, the public will be able to navigate to the courts webpage and see key documents in specific court cases. Gary told the Charlotte Observer that initially clerks will only include the arrest warrant, indictments, accompanying affidavits and judicial orders in the case files. Other parts of the files will be withheld initially, until the clerks have a better idea of what should or should not be placed online. 

The first two cases that will be put online are a pending domestic violence charge against Carolina Panthers player Greg Hardy and a pending manslaughter charge against former Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Randall Kerrick. Both cases have attracted singificant public interest. 

Read coverage from the Observer here.