Area attorneys hear details about online database
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Victoria County is responding to its residents' ever-growing desire for information by putting its criminal, civil and probate records online.
More than 30 attorneys, legal assistants and bondsmen learned more about the county's partnership with iDocket.com, an Amarillo based database service, during a lunch presentation Tuesday at Huvar's Artisan Market and Catering.
Jane Lane, a Port Lavaca attorney, said the online service will have a positive impact on her business.
Lane practices in Aransas, Calhoun, DeWitt, Jackson, Lavaca and Victoria counties, and spends hours on the road each week traveling to courthouses to check documents.
"It'll help with my travel expenses," she said.
With that, she expects to reduce her overhead costs and pass along savings to her clients, she said.
Lane has practiced family and criminal defense law for 12 years, and has been "hoping and waiting anxiously for something like this," she said.
Victoria joins a growing number of counties offering their criminal, civil and probate records online. Social Security numbers are redacted and public confidentiality is protected, said Armando Balderrama, a representative of iDocket.com.
The service is not limited to attorneys and bondsmen, who are primary users Balderrama said. It is open to the general public.
Subscription fees are based on a three-tier system ranging from $50 to $100 with a $1 per page view. Victoria County receives the $1 page view and 20 percent of the subscription fees from users who tagged Victoria as the primary county of interest.
Lane said the cost of the service is a good value, especially compared to paying staff to drive to Victoria to receive records.
"I know there's a cost to it ... long range, I think it will be cost effective," she said.
County Clerk Robert Cortez said he is pleased with the partnership.
The online company started about 12 years ago in Amarillo and has now spread to 90 clerks in 61 counties.
Each night, the county will update its records dating back to 1989 on the website. Cortez said information on the county's website, such as the court calendar, will continue to be available there.
Cortez said he hopes to have another partnership established by the end of the year that would make land records available online.
"We're trying to bring our office to the standard that will be able to provide end-users immediate access to the records they need," Cortez said.
The new service will also benefit county employees, who have free access to iDocket.
Donna Cliffe, a legal assistant at a Victoria law firm, also attended the lunch presentation Wednesday to learn more about how her job duties will change because of the online service.
"I think it will make procedures more efficient," she said.
She often makes daily trips and phone calls to the county clerk's office to locate court records.
"I hope it will alleviate some of the calling and searching we have to do," she said.