District attorney’s office will be going paperless

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DOVER-FOXCROFT — Several weeks after being elected as the new district attorney for Piscataquis and Penobscot counties — Prosecutorial District 5 — current Deputy District Attorney Marianne Lynch, R-Bangor met with the Piscataquis County Commissioners during their Nov. 20 meeting.

Piscataquis County District Attorney’s Office Manager Corina Tibbetts said Lynch would be starting at the beginning of the new year. “We are very, very excited to have her take over our office,” Tibbetts said. “She has a great vision for where we are going to go and we are very, very fortunate to have her.”

Lynch said one change that will be coming to the district attorney’s office in the region and for the others across the state is a conversion to electronic filing. “What is being imposed on us, and it’s probably overdue, is we are going to a paperless system.”

Deputy District Attorney Marianne Lynch

The district attorney-elect said the federal court system has been filing electronically for nearly two decades and the switch at the state level will reduce the flow of paper back and forth.

“The district attorneys have received a grant to go to a paperless system,” Lynch said. “It’s akin to a medical records system,” she added.

District 5 is set to be the first in the state to be converted with JustWare software and Lynch said she wanted Piscataquis County officials to know about the new system in advance. Implementation will be done in about 10-14 months and the rest of the state should be ready in 18-24 months.

“There are a lot of costs we won’t know about, there will be problems when we flip the switch,” she said.

“Eventually attorneys will be going into court with a pad, they won’t be going into court with their papers,” the district attorney-elect said.

“Right now in Piscataquis County we are receiving about 90 percent of our law enforcement files electronically,” Tibbetts said.

“So we need to make sure we have everything set up for that,” she said, saying all that can be done so far has been taken care of.

Commissioners Chair James White wondered about the possibility of errors in the electronic records system.

“We do have checks and balances and with the court system we have now that is in place,” Tibbetts said.

White also wondered about future costs at the county level.

“For right now I don’t think we have a firm answer,” Lynch said.

“One of the things I find really beautiful is this going to be used by every prosecutor in the state,” Tibbetts said. She said court records are cross-checked presently but the electronic system will be “a very big positive for all of the prosecutors.”

In other business, County Manager Tom Lizotte said, “As you know Atkinson voted overwhelmingly to deorganize so I have been meeting with them.”

On Election Day a referendum asking if the town should deorganize was passed via a count of 187 to 19, nearly 91 percent as Atkinson would become part of the Piscataquis County Unorganized Territory as of July 1, 2019.

Lizotte said the Atkinson selectme have closed the McCorrison Road as a public way, a public easement is in effect, and signs have been placed and gates are set up for the bridge over Alder Stream.

“The snowmobile club will take over the bridge for snowmobiling so they will take down the gates for snow season,” Lizotte said. The overpass can handle snowmobiles but not larger road vehicles.

The county manager said at the final annual town meeting March, residents will vote on putting the salt/sand pile property up for sale as the last major piece of business for Atkinson to take care of before falling under the county government.

Lizotte said he will be meeting with the community’s current snow plowing contractor to discuss transitional coverage.

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