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I am concerned about the prospects of mandatory e-filing, not only of pleadings but, now, of documents and exhibits. The proponents of this system have yet to explain several important facets of the proposal:

* A primary concern is access to justice for people (including attorneys) who may not have access to proper computer equipment or who may not have sufficient computer skills. It is arrogant to simply order the great unwashed to "upgrade."

* E-filing implies there will be no interference with the process in the event of a hurricane, power failure, terrorist attack or even some accident or event (localized in nature) causing a loss of Internet access.

* At the risk of sounding unduly paranoid (or, in the vernacular, experienced), the integrity of electronically filed documents must be insured. Hackers are out there, and no system is foolproof since, as we know, fools are ingenious people.

The first issue is of importance to me, since many of my clients are poor. Furthermore, pro se litigants will assuredly be disadvantaged without 24-7 access to computers to monitor orders and filings. We must not make the system inaccessible to those of limited means.

E-filing also appears to be a gateway for creative filing and service of pleadings and papers that could stand as an abuse of process. Is my office going to have to require an employee to monitor the computer in order to watch for pleadings at 2 a.m. Sunday morning?

Incidentally, our office went "paperless" (or tried to), but it has been our experience that we require "paper" back-up files due to recurring computer issues. I would hate to see the Florida courts paralyzed for months by a hurricane or a hacker.

Computerization offers obvious benefits, but we need to be careful.

Mark C. Menser

Fort Myers
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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:Menser, Marck C.
Publication:Florida Bar News
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Mar 1, 2010
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