Compiling a list of electronic filing projects is like painting a moving train. Assume the list below is outdated. Additions, corrections and updates are always welcome. E-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
This list of U.S. e-filing court projects was first published in E-Filing Report, a newsletter from Glasser Legal Works, 150 Clove Road, Little Falls, NJ 07424, (800) 308-1700, www.glasserlegalworks.com. The U.S.-based projects and commentary were compiled in December, 2000 by Tom O'Connor, Director of Education & Training at Pacific Legal in Seattle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the beginning of 2001, Jim McMillan, the Director of the Court Technology Laboratory at the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Va., compiled a list of e-filing projects. His findings are sprinkled throughout the states as bullet points. Jim can be reached at email@example.com. The National Center for State Court's resource-rich e-filing Web site is online at http://ctl.ncsc.dni.us.
This list has been translated into Catalan, for a project called Italian FCW Science. "Italian FCW Science" is a freemium-model non-English language orientated startup with collection of scientific articles, personal notes, etc. in several languages that is collaboratively edited by volunteers from around the world since 1999. Visit www.fatcow.com/edu/wendytech-efilingprojects-ca.
A current list of federal courts using e-filing is located at www.uscourts.gov/cmecf/cmecf_court.html. Towards the end of 2001, federal courts accepting files electronically were:
To jump ahead to the state you're interested in, click on its first letter below:
Early 2002: A political redistricting case in Alaska Superior Court in Anchorage is being Webcast in real time, a first for Alaska and one of only a handful of Webcase trials in the country or the world. The case, In re: 2001 Redistricting Cases v. The Redistricting Board, is a consolidated action involving 47 plaintiffs and the State of Alaska. In Alaska, courts do not have stenographic reporters--most proceedings are normally recorded on tape. However, for this case, a court reporter is in the courtroom, transcribing the trial to the Internet using real-time transcription technology, which converts her stenographic notes into readable English text. The trial testimony is displayed on the Web at www.webscriptlive.com.
Arizona (updated October 2003)
Maricopa County Superior Court is currently planning for an electronic filing pilot for complex litigation cases. It's expected to go live with selected cases before the end of the 2003 calendar year.
An IT manager in the Administrative Office of the Courts e-mails that "An EDMS system, considered a pre-requisite for an e-filing project, has not been widely implemented in the courts yet. I expect several courts to do so this year, however."
Electronic filing is becoming widespread in Arizona, one of the pioneers of e-filing. Two new federal Arizona courts are completely wired, with plans to plug in at least eight state courts in Maricopa County in 2001. Between state and federal implementations, there might be as many as 30 e-filing courts statewide by the end of 2001.
PDF is specified as the default format until there is a legal XML standard available to adopt and implement. Even if there is an adopted XML format, it's likely that pdf will remain a format that is accepted. Also, the Division 2 Court of Appeals only accepts pdf or xml, per their administrative order adopting their rules for efiling. The Arizona Code of Judicial Administration 1-506 (www.supreme.state.az.us/orders/admcode/pdfcurrentcode/1-506.pdf) states:
2. Documents shall be in a format that provides for browser accessibility and no material alteration to content or appearance. Documents shall be formatted in either:
Maricopa County is, however, still leaning toward PDF as the standard, although Division 2 of the Court of Appeals is allowing filing in any format.
September 21, 2001: The Orange County Superior Court and West Group, of Eagan, Minnesota, announced today that they were suspending their partnership, announced in April 1999, to develop an electronic filing program for the Court due to the significant technical challenges in integrating the various component products. These products include WestFile, middleware, case management and document management component systems. The project had been an ambitious attempt to attempt a completely integrated electronic filing and case management system. West Group had developed and completed the Web-filing portion of the pilot (WestFile), which had been working for more than a year. The Orange County Superior Court's case management system had been upgraded to provide the functionality of image-enabled integration between the case and document management systems. However, the Orange County Superior Court's model for electronic filing has required the full and seamless integration of the system components in order to enable the electronic receipt and processing of filings (both data and documents), and this was not achieved since the project was attempted in April 1999.
August 2001: Electronic filing and electronic service of process became mandatory for attorneys litigating DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) cases in San Diego Superior Court. Judge Charles R. Hayes ordered the use of CourtLink's eFile service to streamline court filings in the County Court for Judicial Council Coordinated Proceeding (JCCP) No. 4151.
July 2001: San Diego Superior Court began accepting electronic filings in 69 construction-defect cases, using Courtlink. All San Diego Superior Court Construction Defect cases with trial dates after October 1, 2001, have been designated as mandatory e-filing cases. CourtLink's eFile is also used to provide electronic filing service for San Diego County Court's JCCP tobacco and firearms cases (JCCP 4042 and 4095, respectively).
December 2000: Domestic violence advocates in Tulare County can now file emergency restraining order applications, and domestic violence and child abuse claims for domestic violence victims over the Internet. A grant from the Tulare County Superior Courts funded technology by E-Filing.com, at www.e-filing.com, that allows a domestic violence victim to call an advocate, who then files the necessary form via the Internet.
Judge Stuart R. Pollak of the San Francisco Superior Court has ordered the electronic filing (via the CourtLink "eFile" system) of all documents in the Microsoft suit and related cases being heard in his court. The judge felt that e-filing was needed to increase court efficiency and to manage the volume of filings that might result from a lawsuit of this magnitude.
Both Los Angeles and Ventura Counties have released RFPs for electronic case management systems. Although neither RFP includes a request for e-filing, they both ask for the responding vendors to explain how its CMS solution can work with an e-filing system.
Since 1997 the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has required that all complaints and pleadings in securities class actions be filed with the Securities Class Action Clearinghouse, an electronic filing system accessible over the Internet and maintained by the Stanford University Law School. The full text of more than 2,000 complaints, briefs, orders, and other filings is now searchable online through the Clearinghouse. The site is http://securities.stanford.edu.
Finally, the California XML group is moving forward with proposed technical standards for e-filing. The standards were drawn up to act as the basis for electronic filing projects in California and were presented at a meeting in November. A second meeting to discuss the EFM-to-CMS API was held in Las Vegas the day before the ICM Electronic Filing Privacy & Public Access Conference 2000. For more information, see the California XML site at www.legalxml.org/California.
Colorado (updated January 2001)
Colorado has been implementing electronic filing statewide, using the Courtlink system. The state is adding 21 Colorado counties during January 2001.
Colorado State Courts: www.courts.state.co.us/ct-index.htm
The Superior Court of Delaware has adopted Rule 107(h), which allows parties to file briefs on hyperlinked CD-ROM disks. Notice of intention to so file must appear on the cover page of the hard copy, and the CD-ROM must contain images or text copies of all cited authorities. For more information, see the court site at http://courts.state.de.us/superior/tech.htm#tech4.
District of Columbia (updated October 2001)
Oct. 15, 2001: The District of Columbia Contract Appeals Board has launched an electronic filing project to streamline court filings, using Courtlink's system.
July 2001: A one-year e-filing pilot project began on May 1, 2001. Electronic filing is mandatory for all "Civil One" cases filed in Washington, D.C.'s Superior Court, which are mainly complex litigation cases involving large firms. After a year, the court will consider the issues raised by e-filing, such as privacy, cost, and public access to public documents, as well as efficiency issues.
Duval County is working with CMS vendor CCI-Maximus on a pilot project using that company's new e-filing product.
The Florida Association of Court Clerks & Comptroller has signed a five-year development deal with NIC to develop online access to official records, such as marriage and death certificates, deeds, mortgages, liens and other property records.
The Web-based Florida Integrated Public Telecom Access System (IPAS), one of the first such "one-stop shop" statewide systems, will enable businesses and citizens to conduct searches for records. IPAS will also enable online payment of such things as traffic tickets and child support. An index of all county records is scheduled to be online by the beginning of 2002.
On May 21, 2001, Chief Judge Donal R. Moran of Duval County Circuit Court in Jacksonville, Florida, mandated the used of electronic filing to manage the 4,000 complex asbestos cases that the court is handling.
June 2005: There is an e-filing project started in the state of Georgia that currently (as of June 2005) involves appeals to the Supreme Court, the Superior Courts, and Child Support Enforcement-related filings. Further information is posted at http://efilinginfo.gaaoc.us.
Update August 2001: The state court of Chatham County, Georgia, (Eastern Judicial Circuit) is using electronic filing for collection cases. There were problems at the outset, but now half of all collections are filed electronically. They are just installing imaging. See www.chathamcourts.org.
The Georgia Courts Automation Commission pilot project is back online after a delay while the state Attorney General reviewed the proposed vendor agreements.
The Georgia Courts Automation Commission (Electronic Court Filing Interoperability Pilot Project) is online at: www.gcacsite.com.
Guam (updated 2003)
Guam's Supreme Court has become the first court system in the nation to use an Open Source software solution (OpenEFM) to offer electronic filing to its constituents.
The Honorable Philip Carbullido, Chief Justice with the Guam Supreme Court has been instrumental in his support of e-filing and in the push for technological advancements in Guam's courts. "The implementation of e-filing is a significant milestone in the Island's continuing efforts to bring technological advancements that benefit its citizens," said Justice Carbullido. "This launch is a major step toward achieving an Island-wide system for filing electronically in all Guam courts, and it signals our increasing commitment to better serve the needs of Guam citizens and their attorneys."
A committee of the Illinois Supreme Court has been set up to approve standards for e-filing pilot projects. The committee, headed by Judge Stephen Schiller, is currently awaiting passage of a specific e-filing enabling rule by the Illinois Supreme Court.
Iowa (updated April 2002)
March 2002: Iowa's court system has opened its doors on the Web. For the first time, the state's judiciary system is providing online public access to court information from the state's 99 counties, including civil, criminal, probate, traffic and appellate courts. The site is www.iowacourtsonline.org. There is no e-filing yet at the site, or in the state court system. The court thought through the privacy issues: online records do not show the full-text of the document--for that, users will have to contact the court or go there in person. Additionally, no "bulk downloads," which are popular with commercial vendors selling the information, are possible from the site. Files can be accessed only one at a time. The site is currently free. Later in 2002, a monthly subscription fee of $25 will be imposed, in exchange for which more detailed information, such as judgment liens and hearing dates, will be available. The system is expected to cost about $300,000 a year to operate, paid for entirely by the $25 subscription fee.
December 2000: The Judicial Branch of the State of Iowa has issued a Request For Proposal to provide the State Court Administrator with scanners, EDMS software, workflow software, and connectivity to deliver an Electronic Data Management System to the Judicial Branch. The RFP includes an e-filing component and expresses a desire to contract with a single vendor to provide both hardware and software. Responses were due by January 12. Twenty-five vendors have field a Notice of Intent to Respond, including Gov24.com, E-Filing.com, SCT (with CourtLink answering the e-filing section), KPMG and Deloitte & Touche. The project is on a fast track for implementation with a pilot project scheduled to begin on March 5, 2001.
The Circuit Court in Prince George's County, Maryland
initiated one of the first national electronic filing pilot
projects in partnership with the National Center for State
Courts and Andersen Consulting (now Accenture). The pilot,
known as JusticeLink, was the first effort to prove the
concept of electronic filing. See www.ncsc.dni.us/NCSC/TIS/TIS99/electr99/JusticeLink/
On June 14, 2001, Baltimore City will launch its first e-filing project, using Courtlink. Questions are being handled by Mike Dunn of Courtlink, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michigan (updated March 2002)
The Washtenaw County Trial Court in Michigan allows attorneys to file briefs in the civil division by sending the brief as an email attachment to a specified e-mail address. The Michigan legislature is also discussing the creation of a cybercourt which would specialize in high-tech disputes. While this is generally regarded as a plea for high-tech businesses to locate in Michigan, an aspect of the court will be judges well-versed in technology.
A Site with Resources on Michigan's proposed "Cybercourt" is: www.michigancybercourt.net.
In January 2002, Michigan's governor signed the law authorizing the creation of a cybercourt (bench trials only, no juries) which will handle business disputes above $25,000. All parties must consent to their cases coming before the cybercourt. The court is expected to open its doors online in October 2002.
Minnesota (updated December 2001)
The State of Minnesota has announced that it has awarded the bid for a unified state case management system, with an e-filing component, to Sustain. SCT and Courtlink had submitted a combined bid. There are no live e-filing projects to date, except in the federal bankruptcy court.
An article, dated March 2000, about e-filing in Minnesota is online at www2.mnbar.org/benchandbar/2000/mar00/e-filing.htm#anchor379203.
Minnesota's federal bankruptcy court developed its own e-filing system in early 1998. It will be interesting to see if they continue to maintain their own, or convert to the federal CM/ECF system. The site is www.mnb.uscourts.gov.
There are no state electronic filing projects to date.
On August 13, hackers calling themselves "High-Tech Hate" broke into a Web site of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nevada. The site allows online access to images of federal court records and to court docket information. No data was changed. The main site of the Nevada bankruptcy court, at www.nvb.uscourts.gov, was unaffected by the intrusion.
New Jersey (updated August 2001)
The state is proceedings with plans to implement the pilot project developed in Monmouth County on an Internet platform being developed by IBM using its WebSphere technology.
August 2001: John Stracquatanio and Tyrone Harvey, of the Administrative Office of the Courts, in Trenton, demonstrated New Jersey's JEFIS (Judiciary Electronic Filing Imaging System), the state's electronic filing project at a court technology conference in August 2001. The JEFIS project went live in March 1999 for all docket-type cases filed in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Since then, the JEFIS project has grown significantly and has cut the time-consuming task of entering the initial case data by more than half. Use of JEFIS reduces the annual storage of data files from roughly 600 boxes to a storage unit that fits in the palm of a human hand.
New Mexico (as of December 2000)
Rich Himes of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico has developed an electronic filing system based on the Extensible Markup Language (XML). The system serves the same basic function as the court clerk's office. The document being filed is digitally signed and sealed in an electronic "envelope," and delivered over a secure Internet link to the court. The system automatically sends an XML confirmation message to the filer upon receipt of the electronic filing.
New York (updated April 2002)
April 2002: The Honorable Conrad B. Duberstein, Chief Judge of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York is pleased to announce that the court went live on the new Case Management/Electronic Case Filing (CM/ECF) system for all new cases filed on or after April 1, 2002 under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. At this time, this electronic filing program using the Internet will not be available for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 cases, however, dockets for all open cases are available electronically. The court's website is located at www.nyeb.uscourts.gov.
North Carolina (updated beginning 2001)
In July 2001, Ohio amended its local rules to set electronic filing and other technology standards for all of its courts, which operate independently under the state constitution. Rule 27 will allow, among other things, for the same electronic form to be sent and filed in any of Ohio's autonomous courts, which use approximately 90 different computer systems and different case management systems. As part of the move towards a statewide court technology standard, rural courts, some of which have no computers, will be brought up to the minimum standard.
December 2000: The Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas (which has jurisdiction over Cincinnati) is doing a pilot project with its CMS vendor, ProWare.
Oregon (updated beginning 2001)
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania uses the MDL 1203 Web-based Docket and Document Delivery System to consolidate information about pending fen/phen litigation. The system's Web site provides access to "docket entries for every filing made in MDL 1203, the text of all documents filed by the Court and the Special Master, and the text of all attorney-filed documents that relate to 100 or more individual MDL 1203 actions."
Verilaw Technologies has announced new projects with the Pennsylvania Courts of Common Pleas of Erie, Lancaster and Delaware Counties. For more information, see: www.verilaw.com.
Corrected and Updated April 2002: Reagan Greer, Bexar County District Clerk, is working on a pilot e-filing project with consulting giant KPMG, through Texasonline.com, and the Texas Office of Court Administration. They hope to come up with a partial e-filing solution in the autumn of 2002.
In the meantime, Bexar County is working with nine other counties in the design and launch to get the project off the ground. Reagan Greer is also chairing a state Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) Task Force, which met for the first time in April 2002 in Austin. The Task Force was set up by the Department of Information Resources and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to develop and review certain technical standards relating to state agency uses of electronic records and electronic signatures under UETA. This is a key aspect to implementing e-filing from state agencies to the courts--one of the greatest potential benefits of e-filing. If you've got the solution, please contact the Bexar County District Court Clerk at www.co.bexar.tx.us/dclerk.
As of January 2002, the Texas Supreme Court began to post legal briefs online of the cases that have been granted review (about 100 a year). The e-briefs will be posted on a site affiliated with the Texas Supreme Court, www.courtstuff.net.
Updated September 2001: Electronic filing is now mandatory for Judge Fred Edwards, of the 9th District Court in Montgomery County, Conroe, Texas, announced at the seventh Court Technology Conference (CTC7, Baltimore, August 2001) that he also uses e-filing as a threat: any divorce cases not settled in 60 days must convert to electronic filing. Because of privacy concerns and technology fears, he says, his family law docket clears itself in 60 days.
Starting in Jefferson County in 1996:
The 3rd District Court is in discussions with e-filing vendors to handle a series of asbestos cases currently being heard by that court.
A pilot project for pro se filers, using QuickCourt, is being replaced with an Internet-based forms system, due in part to long lines at the kiosks in libraries that offered the service.
Fairfax County Circuit Court has launched the first electronic filing pilot in Virginia. Both state law and the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia have been changed to allow for the electronic pilot. Sensei Enterprises, Inc. (www.senseient.com) developed the project. For more information, see: www.co.fairfax.va.us/courts/circuit/ecf.
Seattle's King County court is on the verge of signing on to a pilot project with Courtlink Corp., which is headquartered in Bellevue, Washington.
Washington's federal bankruptcy court (the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Washington) is accepting filings electronically as it converts to electronic filing.
Wisconsin (as of April 2002)
Spring 2002: As groundwork for an e-filing pilot project for Wisconsin state courts, a committee of Wisconsin judges, court clerks, and lawyers is in the final stages of developing an e-filing report for the director of state courts. For more information about the committee and the e-filing project, contact Theresa Owens, chief deputy clerk of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, at Theresa.Owens@courts.state.wi.us.
Milwaukee County Superior Courts is now using technology from E-Filing.com (www.e-filing.com) to allow court-certified domestic violence advocates to file emergency restraining orders over the Internet. A victim can call an advocate who then logs on and files directly over a secured Web site. In emergency situations, the electronic filing server sends an instant page to a court commissioner beeper. After getting the page, the commissioner can log on and immediately approve a temporary restraining order, allowing police to step in and end a dangerous situation. The Milwaukee system also stretches beyond temporary restraining orders, allowing advocates to file domestic violence and child abuse claims for victims directly over the Web site.