Earlier this week I did a routine title search, tracing the history of a piece of real estate. This used to involve going to the courthouse and viewing an actual document that was stored in an office. Now it involves going to the courthouse and viewing a special computer. So I typed in the names of the people who have owned this property, found the deeds...and at some point in the process the computer flashed a warning that "file corruption may occur." And sure enough, clicking on the button to display a deed pulled up a copy of a receipt of payment made to a completely different person...and then clicking on the button to display a different document pulled up the deed for which I'd been looking.
Regular readers know that I've been opposing the idea of storing legal documents on electronic systems, even systems unconnected to the Internet, for this reason, for a long time. Making it easier for the public to view copies on a computer, without handling the original documents, is an improvement (though not necessarily cost-effective). Storing the records on the computer, without keeping the original documents, is a recipe for chaos. The only news being reported here is that it has happened in Scott County, Virginia.