Debbie Comery, Chief Deputy Clerk at Rocky River Municipal Court in Rocky River, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb, said she considers herself and her court to be forward thinkers when it comes to using technology to improve efficiency at the court. So when her Pitney Bowes sales representative approached her about participating in a new United States Postal Service program to make return receipts electronic, she said she jumped at the chance.
"We have somewhat of a reputation for being avant-garde, technologywise," Comery said. "When the discussion came up with one of the Pitney Bowes sales reps regarding the possibility of participating in the [e-Return Receipt] pilot program, we were very excited about it because we enjoy trying new technology and using it to our advantage for time savings, or to find better ways, in our opinion, to [maintain] records."
And keeping good records, according to Comery, is the purpose of her office at the court-house.
Rocky River Municipal Court is a first-level court system, Comery explained, meaning that the court handles hearings on such issues as traffic tickets up to misdemeanors. The clerk's office is responsible for maintaining the court records, and part of that job includes sending out notices to individuals that a complaint has been filed against them and they have been summoned to appear in court.
By law, these notices must be sent by certified U.S. mail with return receipt requested, which involves the recipient signing the Postal Service's green return receipt cardlegal proof that the defendant in a case has received the notice of a hearing. Prior to implementing the e-Return Receipt system, Comery said that when a Postal Service return receipt card came back to the courthouse, it was manually filed with the appropriate case. Each week, Rocky River sends out approximately 175 notices requiring a return receipt.