New online service facilitates filing in Magistrate Courts

The Georgia Council of Magistrate Court Judges (CMagCJ) is now offering attorneys and self-represented litigants the opportunity to use a free online service to complete an interview, generate the applicable forms and electronically file court forms. Filings created online may also be submitted by mail or in person for any magistrate court in the state. The Magistrate Courts Free Forms Generator, powered by the Tyler Technologies, Inc. Odyssey Guide & File solution, can be accessed on the CMagCJ website.
The Magistrate Free Forms Generator, which debuted in August, walks users through the process of filing or responding to cases involving General Statement of Claim, Answer and Counterclaim to a Statement of Claim, Dispossessory Warrant Request by a Landlord, and Answer and Counterclaim to a Dispossessory Affidavit using an “interview” process.
Since it became available, 365 users from Georgia have visited the Forms Generator; a total of 554 sessions have been recorded from states as far away as Colorado and California.
“The Council of Magistrate Court Judges has been brainstorming ways to help the public and, specifically, the self-represented litigant group for several years now,” said Sharon Reiss, executive director of the Georgia Council of Magistrate Court Judges. “Magistrate court was designed to be the people’s court and, especially since the economic downturn, we have seen even more self-representation. In an effort to gain more uniformity, education, and efficiencies within our courts, we wanted to develop a free service that would make our forms not only easier to fill out, but also more complete so that judges had all the information about a case before court.” 
The Council of Magistrate Court Judges is the first Tyler client to roll out interviews statewide through a Web portal and via mobile technology. Georgia’s 159 magistrate courts will also be able to offer in-house access to the guided filing process, without additional strain on employees, through use of kiosks. Each year, Georgia’s magistrate courts exceed 500,000 filings.
“Tyler is proud to assist the Magistrate Court to expand access to justice across all Georgia counties with an easy-to-use solution that helps self-represented litigants; they are a leader in leveraging this rapidly expanding way to increase access to justice while at the same time improving court efficiencies,” said Bruce Graham, president of Tyler’s Courts & Justice Division. “The Georgia Council of Magistrate Court Judges is providing a tool that will streamline court processes and improve service to constituents, and we look forward to helping them succeed.”
Odyssey Guide & File allows users to develop interviews and provide relevant, informative content that can result in a reduction of erroneous filings and staff time answering pro se questions. As a cloud-based solution, self-guided interviews are published and accessed from the court’s website, providing flexibility for self-represented litigants to complete the interview anytime, from anywhere. Other early adopters of Odyssey Guide & File include the South Dakota Unified Judicial System; the State of Idaho Judicial Branch; Eighth Judicial District Court in Las Vegas; and the Second Judicial District court in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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