E-filing, electronic access, and e-service not only save the taxpayers and litigants the tremendous cost associated with handling paper court records, these systems also provide efficiency for the court, the parties, and all other agencies and entities that use the court system. Electronic access also allows the public easy access to the public records of the judicial branch of government, which fosters a better understanding of the court system and improved accountability and transparency.
Emailing is not e-filing. E-filing is the electronic filing of pleadings with the clerk. Because e-filers have to log in through secure servers to e-file, the integrity of the court record is much more secure than the paper system where the clerk receives an envelope in the mail from some unknown source. Mr. Kortenhaus' letter refers to pro se litigants sending him numerous emails. Paper system or not, any pro se litigant can email opposing counsel. If a pro se litigant files multiple superfluous pleadings with the court, the court can place a check on that just as is done in situations where multiple paper documents are filed.
State attorneys have retracted their opposition to e-filing and will learn, as local private attorneys have, that once you become familiar with this very simple system, e-filing is much more efficient and faster than paper filing. The e-filing rule also provides that an attorney who still uses a Smith Corona selectric can petition the court to continue to file in paper--I suggest that will be a rarely used provision in this day and age of word processing.
Pro se litigants are, in fact, not required to e-file their documents. All clerks are capable of scanning pro se pleadings and converting them to electronic images. Victims of domestic violence could e-file their pleadings which will get their petition to the court faster when time delays of mailing or driving to the courthouse can mean harm or death to a person who is a victim of domestic violence. The orders of the court are electronically transmitted to the sheriff who can then print and serve a paper copy on the respondent. Warrants issued against criminals are similarly transmitted, shortening the time criminals are on the street.
Service of the initial pleadings in tenant eviction and other civil actions is still done by paper, but e-service of copies of subsequently filed pleadings on opposing counsel saves time and postage, increasing efficiency and reducing costs for their clients.
E-filed documents immediately show up on the court's electronic file system rather than sitting in a pile of paper or in transit in the mail.
The courts and clerks are presently initiating a statewide portal that will enable any filer to file any pleading in any court through one site. This e-portal will further improve the efficiency of the courts.
This is not fantasy. It is real, and it is here and is already working, not only here but in the federal courts as well.
R. B. "Chips" Shore
Manatee County Clerk of the Court Bradenton
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|Author:||Shore, R.B. "Chips"|
|Publication:||Florida Bar News|
|Article Type:||Letter to the editor|
|Date:||Aug 15, 2011|
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