By Allie Winter, STATE BILL COLORADO
When it comes to public access to certain electronic court records, LexisNexis is out and the Colorado Judicial Department is in, if the department has its way.
For the past 10 years, the department has recruited, at little or no cost to the state, private vendors to operate its public access computer system, or PAS, for non-protected court data. It’s supported entirely by user fees, primarily paid by background companies working to screen job candidates.
Over the past two years, the department has decided it would be more efficient to run this system in-house, as well as an other system that handles the electronic filing of court documents by lawyers. An effort by the judicial department to gain control over both systems last year failed in the General Assembly. LexisNexis has been under contract to provide the public-access system since 2005; that contract expires June 30. Now, the department is saying it wants to take over July 1 and has asked for approval to do just that.
Proponents such as Pasadena, Calif.-based Courthouse News Service say consumers will benefit from lower prices; opponents have argued that the government won’t serve the market as efficiently or as effectively as private companies. Some also contend that it’s wrong for the government to grow at the expense of the private sector.
Carolyn Kampman, analyst at the Joint Budget Committee, brought the department’s supplemental request to adjust this year’s budget to implement the access system. That request passed 5-1 and now goes to the full House and Senate for their approval. Under the plan, Kampman said the department will soon start transitioning over certain government employees who access the system for free already, on Lexis Nexis, to the in-house system as a “test” before they launch in July.
“They want to be able to hire a staff and migrate those users off of Lexis and over to theirs,” she said.
Further, certain fees for certain users will decrease as the Judicial Department does not make a profit from this service and can operate it cheaper with no vendors involved. “They will continue to charge fees to certain users, but not others. Some fees would go down because they don’t collect extra fees that vendors [have collected thus far].”
The JBC’s approval of the supplemental will be included in a bill that hasn’t yet been introduced.
Users access the public records on the Web through LexisNexis, the primary vendor, as well as through secondary vendors Axciom Risk Mitigation (CoCourts.com) and Background Information Services (Bisi.com), among others.