Pa. courts' website gets technological upgrades

By Jon Campisi | Mar 20, 2012

Court-ordered fines, restitution, motor vehicle violations and other court related financial transactions in Pennsylvania can now be taken care of electronically via the state judiciary’s website, the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts announced Monday.

“We are applying technology to improve court management,” Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille said in a statement. “By providing an easy way to settle court-ordered costs, defendants can avoid facing arrests, contempt of court proceedings, driver’s license suspensions and/or additional collection agencies fees.”

According to an AOPC news release, the courts online payment feature dubbed “e-Pay” was expanded between the spring of 2010 and the winter of 2011 to include all magisterial district courts, creating, for the first time ever, what the AOPC calls a “one-stop shop” for defendants to make multiple district court and common pleas court payments via the Web with only a single $2.75 transaction fee.

Common Pleas Courts across the commonwealth began offering e-Pay in 2010 with district courts offering the feature last year.

Daily collections through e-Pay have reached $140,000, the AOPC news release states, with Castille saying the online payment system seems to be contributing to higher court collection levels that totaled close to $470 million just last year.

The news release states that e-Pay, unlike some of the online credit card payment functions existing in certain Pennsylvania counties, is fully integrated with both state court systems.

In addition to e-Pay, the new Magisterial District Judge System provides features that make it easier for judges and their staff members to ascertain whether statewide warrants exist for defendants who could appear in their court, provides defendant bail and sentencing history, displays case balances and provides for increased interactions with the Common Pleas Court system, the release states.

“The automation of Pennsylvania’s courts has had a far-reaching impact, not only on improving administrative efficiency and services within the courts, but also enhancing the safety of citizens and law enforcement officials of the Commonwealth,” the news release states.

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