RAPID CITY (AP) – The South Dakota Unified Judicial System is piloting a program that will eventually allow the public access to court records from any computer.
The public can now only view court records on computers at state courthouses during work hours from Monday to Friday, which means some people face long drives to access the records.
“We recognize that the (computer) terminals are kind of limited in their functionality,” said Greg Sattizahn, administrator of the South Dakota Unified Judicial System.
The new website, set to go live late 2019 or early 2020, is aimed at improving public access to court records by allowing people to view them online from any computer at the cost of 10 cents per page.
The public computers at the courthouses only let people search by case number. But the new website will allow people to search by name, date of birth, county and date range of the alleged offense. Obtaining complete criminal backgrounds will cost $20.
The fees will help cover enhanced technology within the Unified Judicial System, Sattizahn told the Rapid City Journal.
The new website should help cut down on paper and printing costs. But in the meantime, people can expect to pay more when printing documents in courts. Recent software upgrades no longer allow double-sided printing, said Kent Grode, information technology director for the system.
Now, with only single-sided printing, people will be charged 20 cents per page. Most documents are free to view on computers made available to the public.
“Certainly cost was a factor that was taken into consideration,” Sattizahn said. “However, the need to meet system security standards for the information held by the UJS was an overriding concern.
“The UJS database includes highly confidential information, sealed court records and personally identifiable information in addition to publicly accessible records, and we must be vigilant in safeguarding those records.”