She said her staff has always acted in good faith and in accordance with duties. Her office follows the case numbering system as it is outlined in the circuit court clerk's manual, which she said is followed in every county and cannot be altered unless by the Supreme Court.
"The court's mandate is an advisory to do a better, more error-free job and that what we try to do here," Gatson said.
She said her office would "certainly not" have a problem with a unified, online system.
The Kanawha Circuit Clerk's Office has had an electronic filing system since 2005. It's mainly used for mass litigation and has more than half a million documents filed in it.
The new system planned by the Supreme Court will be piloted in 14 counties - Berkeley, Braxton, Cabell, Hampshire, Harrison, Jefferson, Lewis, Lincoln, Marion, Morgan, Ohio, Randolph, Upshur and Wood - with a possibility of adding Kanawha if things go well.
"We've already done all the stuff you do in the way of plans," Canterbury said. "We'll hit Marion and Jefferson first and plan to be up and running in those before the end of the calendar year."
Circuit clerks in Marion and Jefferson counties already are scanning in court documents. Marion Circuit Clerk Barbara Core began scanning documents several years ago and now has about 15 years worth ready to go online, Canterbury said.
The system will be accessible immediately once it's up and running in Marion and Jefferson.
He said continuing legal education courses would be offered to attorneys, though a number of them would already be familiar with such a system if they also work in federal court. The federal court system has had an e-filing system in place for a number of years.
Those filing on their own behalf could still bring paper documents to the circuit clerk's office. Deputy clerks would simply scan them into the system.
Morgantown-based Software Systems was tapped to provide the operating system for the pilot and will partner with On-Line Information Services (OLIS) of Mobile, Ala., which would provide the e-filing service and later electronic bill paying.
The court also approved the newly formed Division of Circuit Clerk Services to deal with the new system and other issues regarding circuit clerks.
Canterbury said the court isn't sure how much it will cost. He said it isn't clear what would be needed in each county. He estimated the pilot program would cost about $500,000 total, but that it could be closer to $750,000.
Currently each county pays for its own circuit clerk's operating systems, equipment, software and maintenance, but Canterbury said the Supreme Court would pick up the tab for the new system.
"We are going to pay for this," Canterbury said. "Everything including the hardware, the wiring and all of the basics. All of this will come out of our budget."
He said the funds already were available because the court had planned to move forward on the e-filing system when the budget was prepared.
Canterbury wasn't sure what the system's user - attorneys, the press and the public - would pay for the service. He thought users would pay a fee in the same range as the users in Alabama, roughly $75 per year.
"The company will charge the fee and we'll get two-thirds of it," Canterbury said. "Our hope is that the e-filing will essentially pay for itself."
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.cr...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.