By year’s end, filing a small-claims case in New Hampshire courts may only a take a series of clicks with a mouse from a home computer.
There would be no need to stop off at a court during a busy weekday or to pay a lawyer for help.
Under the New Hampshire Judicial Branch’s new electronic court system, or e-Court, small-claims cases can be filed from almost anywhere at any time of day or night — even on weekends, according to Gina Apicelli.
Apicelli is senior administrator of the state circuit court system, with 32 divisions throughout New Hampshire. They include courts in Salem, Derry and Plaistow, where new computer kiosks and Internet access will be available for the first time, she said.
“They will be able to file from the lobby, their homes, work and libraries,” Apicelli said.
Under state law, small-claims cases involve assets worth no more than $7,500. The amount increases to $10,000 in July 2015.
They are the most common type of case filed in New Hampshire, according to the Judicial Branch. Last year, the state court system handled 22,016 small-claims cases, including 13,118 newly filed cases.
Most were filed without the assistance of a lawyer, but a small number were brought by attorneys. Online filing of guardianship cases is expected to begin this winter, Apicelli said.
The Judicial Branch launched electronic filing last fall with computerized jury selection at the Superior Court level.
The online filing of small-claims cases begins July 30 at courts in Plymouth and Concord, Apicelli said. Filing fees will be handled on line as well.
The program will be tested at those two courts for about three months before it’s unveiled at other circuit courts. The online filing won’t start at Rockingham County courts until at least early December, Apicelli said.