What is e-filing?
Electronic filing is the filing of an electronic document instead of a paper original and any required copies. It is defined in the California Rules of Court (CRC) Rule 2.250(b)(7) as "the electronic transmission to a court of a document in electronic form."
Pilot Program Expanding
What began as a pilot program in Orange County to allow permissive eFiling in certain situations has now moved on to the next step. New rules adopted in 2013 are set to expand eFiling statewide, including many new mandatory eFiling requirements by the middle of 2014.
The statewide rules are contained in section 1010.6 of the California Code of Civil Procedure as well as in CRC Rules 2.250-2.261. Each county’s superior court has also adopted, or will soon adopt or amend, local court rules on eFiling.
Become familiar with these new rules. The websites for the Judicial Council of California (statewide rules) and for each county’s superior court have information available to assist filers with these new rules and technology.
It was expected that there would be some confusion and reluctance about these new forms of filing documents -- and that special issues would need to be addressed. But the pilot-program rollout has gone well, and the court system and legislators have responded promptly to address legitimate concerns.
Certain issues were anticipated from the outset. These include:
Exemptions to Mandatory Filing for Hardship: CRC Rule 2.253 provides a procedure for a party to submit an application for exemption from eFiling. Also, parties representing themselves or parties with a court fee waiver are exempt from mandatory electronic filing requirements.
Filing When the Court is Closed: Documents subject to mandatory eFiling can be filed until midnight on the date the filing is due. The document is “filed” at the date and time received by the court -- (filings received before midnight will be considered timely) -- and a confirmation of receipt is created. CRC Rule 2.259(a)(1).
Special Procedures for Expedited Hearings: If a hearing is within 24 hours or was ordered to be filed by the court that same day, the filer can call the court to arrange for expedited processing.
Electronic Signatures: Generally, digital signatures are not required, but electronic filing service providers can give reference materials on how to set up digital signatures in Word or WordPerfect. CRC Rule 2.257.
Filers Required to Use Court-Approved Service Providers: For civil and certain other categories, all eFiled documents must be filed through an approved service provider. Each county court’s website lists the approved vendors.
Response from the Public
There are advantages and disadvantages to the new eFiling rules and requirements. There are technological requirements and a learning curve for everyone concerned in the process. Many legal professionals are reluctant to jump into the new world of eFiling, and hope that it will go away.
But the upside clearly outweighs any downside. Many of the anticipated special issues have been addressed. There is information readily available to help with the transition. The new system is, and will continue, to provide substantial time and money savings to parties and to the court system.
Overall, the response has been positive, and the courts and legislators are confident that this leap into the technological revolution will be a good -- and needed -- change for the judicial system.
If you are in need of a process server, or would like to have your legal documents e-filed, contact Direct Legal Support, Inc. for assistance at 800-675-5376. We are happy to assist you.