We have already reported that, effective January 1, 2013, Orange County Superior Court has gone paperless for all civil actions. Limited, unlimited, and complex cases are now subject to the mandatory pilot program established under the authority of California Code of Civil Procedure (“CCP”) section 1010.6(d)(1) and Orange County Superior Court Local Rule 352.
This major change in the court system’s operations has created many novel issues – some of which have been anticipated and addressed. One of these matters is the legal force and effect of electronic signatures.
In our February 7th blog post, we posted the Court’s notice that electronic signatures on documents issued by the Court are as valid as signatures on paper documents. California Government Code sections 68150(a) and (g); Orange County Superior Court Local Rule 352.
That notice also mentioned briefly that the requirements for signatures on documents transmitted electronically by attorneys and self-represented parties to the Court are governed by California Code of Civil Procedure (“CCP”) section 1010.6, subdivision (b) and California Rules of Court (“CRC”), rule 2.257.
These requirements about attorney/party electronic signatures are detailed enough that they merit some addition attention and explanation.
Signatures on Documents Submitted Electronically by Litigants
The general rule is that a document that is prepared and filed electronically by an attorney or by a pro se litigant has the same legal effect as an original paper document. CCP section 1010.6(b). “If a document does not require a signature under penalty of perjury, the document is deemed signed by the party if the document is filed electronically.” Id., CRC 2.257(b)
But there are additional requirements if (a) the document in question is one that must be signed under penalty of perjury; or (b) the document requires the signatures of opposing parties.
Documents Signed Under Penalty of Perjury
For documents that must be signed under penalty of perjury, the declarant must sign a printed form of the document. The filing certifies that declarant has signed the printed form and the original available to view and copy on request.
After filing, any other party or the court may demand production of the original under a procedure specified in that subsection of the Rule. CCP section (b)(2)(B) CRC 2.257(a)
Documents Requiring Signatures of Opposing Parties
When a document – like a stipulation – requires signatures of opposing parties, the filing party must first obtain signatures of all parties on a printed form of the document. After filing, that party must retain the original, signed document and make it available on request (according to the same procedure applicable to documents that must be signed under penalty of perjury.)
The filing certifies that the filing party’s obligations have been met. CRC 2.257(c).
Direct Legal Support, Inc. is here to provide you with Orange County court filing needs. If you have any questions regarding the new Orange County e-file requirements, please contact us for a solution or visit Direct Legal Support, Inc.'s court e-filing portal.