Electronic signatures in PC JIMS

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Judges and Circuit Clerks can digitally sign documents in PC JIMS Imaging.


How to apply a signature to a document

A document has to be​ in PDF format, and​ in​ PC JIMS​ Imaging​. If ​you're working with a Notice Generation document, it will have to be created and exported to Imaging, first.

 

Once a document is in Imaging​,​ follow these steps:

  1. Open the document in Imaging.

  2. Right click on the document.

  • Select Add Annotation\Signature (or Signature and date) [this is how judges digitally sign documents]

    • Left click approximately where you want the signature.

    • Enter the User ID and password.

    • Press Login.

  • Alternately, select Add Annotation\Signature Pad [this is how a litigants digitally sign documents. See the note at bottom for more on this.]

    • Left click approximately where you want the signature.

    • An "Enter signature" screen ​will ​appear.

    • Sign and date on the signature​ ​pad. It will display on the screen.

    • Press Save.

  1. The signature will be added to the document for ​you ​to resize or move ​as needed.

  2. The ​document needs to be saved to save the signature to ​it​. Note that the signature is not permanent until the user makes all annotations permanent.


Note: Judge signatures require an added ​layer of authentication​ when signing documents. As such, their signature needs to be associated in advance with their PC JIMS User ID. It's then applied to documents using the above method requiring a User ID and password. 


How to capture a signature for use in PC JIMS


Judge signatures can be scanned and saved to a file in advance, or they can be captured using a signature pad.

  1. Get into Imaging.

  2. Go to Technical/Signatures.

  3. Go to File/New.

  4. Choose the User ID to be associated with the signature in the Select User window.

  5. Select JUDGE in the User Role window when working with a judge. Select CIRCUIT CLERK in the User Role window when working with the Circuit Clerk.

  6. To load a scanned signature (see below for scanning instructions), click on the folder icon to the far right of 'Upload signature." Browse to the saved signature file and select it.

  7. To use a signature pad, click on the pen-on-paper icon to the far right of 'Upload signature." Sign the signature pad. Click 'Save' on the Edit Signature screen, or 'Clear,' then sign again. (The signature may look bad on the screen, but it will look the same as it looks on the signature pad when saved.)

  8. Click Save.

  9. The selected signature will be associated with the selected PC JIMS User ID and securely stored in the iSeries.

 

TOPAZ signature pads


Goodin Associates elected to work with ​Topaz Systems signature pad​s because this brand creates just one DLL which works with most of their models. While we tested on a T-LBK-462-HSB-R, PC JIMS relies only on the signature capture functionality of these signature pads, and not on any of the company's proprietary software. According to Topaz, any of their signature pads should work with PC JIMS. They're plug and play: just plug it into your PC and try it. If you have one that does not work, it may be defective or obsolete. Contact Topaz for support.


Want a wireless signature pad solution? 
For in-courtroom application, Topaz recommends the T-LBK460-BTAfter one-time pairing (instructions), when the signature pad is ON and within range of the PC, it will connect. The PC's Bluetooth has to be enabled/turned on. The signature pad range will vary depending on the PC's Bluetooth. Given an open courtroom, the range should extend to something like 20-30 feet. Depending on your situation, a USB Bluetooth adapter, like this one, may be required.

Where to buy Topaz signature pads? The T-LBK-462-HSB-R is available from a variety of distributors. The wireless one can be purchased through CDWProVantageWalmart,... T-LBK460-BT2-R is the current model/release at the time of this write-up.

Note: Topaz also sells signature pads that display the full page of a document to be signed, but our understanding is that these can only be used to sign loose PDFs --that is, not PDF documents in Imaging. Aside from the extra burden of then having to get such signed documents into Imaging, this would tie users to the PDF restrictions Topaz enforces on digitally signed documents --maybe invalidating or even removing a defendant's signature when the judge goes to sign off on the document. At the time of this write-up, the use of this sort of signature pad has not been tested and is not supported.



Scanning signatures


When using a signature pad isn't an option, using a scanner is the next best thing. Provided a high-quality scan of a judge's signature, GAL can ready it for a judge to digitally sign documents in Imaging.

  1. Judge signs a blank piece of white paper. Signature needs to be clear and legible.
  2. Load the paper into scanner.
  3. On your PC, go to Control Panel/Devices and Printers.
  4. Right-click on the scanner icon, and select "Start scan". (You may have to double-click on the scanner icon to first open its scanner software.)
    1. Configure the output settings for the scanner:
      1. Output type should be JPG. TIFF and BMP should be used only if JPG is not an option.
      2. Set the Resolution to a minimum to 150 DPI, and preferably 300 DPI.
      3. Note (or set) the destination folder and file name.
    2. Scan the signature page.
  5. Do not attempt to tweak, modify or crop the scanned document. GAL will handle that.
  6. Call GAL to determine the best method for delivering the signature to us for processing. Ask for Kurt.

A ​​word on electronic signatures​

While some courts want to start using digital signatures now, ​the rules for electronic signature​s​ ​(as of this write-up) are ​still being decided​. W​e​​ made ​this feature available to accommodate the want, but​ we​ may have to make changes to it once ​the ​rules for electronic signatures​ get defined​.​



​For questions pertaining to digital signature standards, please contact the AOIC.

For a review of the 2014 standards governing the use of electronic signatures, see: http://illinoiscourts.gov/SupremeCourt/Policies/Pdf/Electronic_Filing_Standards.pdf



A word on litigants/defendants signing digital documents in court


The process of getting a digital document ready for a defendant to sign it in court, as laid out above, is easy enough. Showing the digital document to the defendant, and presenting them the signature pad on which to sign, is another part of the equation. While we cannot know how each court operates, it's likely the clerk pulls up the document in Imaging, maybe displays it on a second monitor for the defendant to view/read. When ready for the signature, the clerk prompts the document for the signature, someone presents the defendant with the signature pad, and the defendant signs. The signature pad needs to be connected to the PC of the person charged with prompting the document for the signature. If the location of the defendant is restricted, possibly removed from the location of the clerk, a Topaz "wireless" signature pad might prove the solution.

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