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Florida State Courts Technology Committee says mandatory electronic filing should be fully implemented before the end of 2013

Hello everyone and welcome to this JACPA Ethics Alert.  This Ethics Alert will discuss the recent (October 7, 2011) Florida Courts Technology Committee (FCTC) Supplemental Comments and Plan filed with the Supreme Court of Florida indicating, inter alia, that e-filing should be implemented by the end of the year 2013 as well as a plan for implementation.  The case is: In Re: Amendments to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure, Florida Probate Rules, Florida Small Claims Rules, Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, Florida Supreme Court Case No. SC11-399.  The Supplemental Comments of the FCTC is also attached.

As I indicated in an earlier Ethics Alert, the Florida Supreme Court issued an Order requiring the development of a schedule for clerks to be ready to receive electronic filings and also to suggest a date wherein electronic filing would be required for all court documents filed by lawyers.  The Florida Courts Technology Committee met in late September 2011 and subsequently filed the supplemental comments and a plan stating that mandatory e-filing should be implemented by the end of 2013.

The schedule is based upon assurances by the Florida Association of Court Clerks that all counties will be ready to accept all civil filings no later than July 1, 2012 and all criminal filings no later than December 31, 2012 and mandatory e-filing in every county court division shall be effective no later than 9 months from the initial date that the clerk begins accepting e-filings through the statewide e-portal, which would be nor later than April 1, 2013, for all trial court civil divisions, and no later than September 30, 2013, for all trial court criminal divisions.

The Florida Courts E-Filing Authority Board (which oversees the Internet portal which will be the access to the e-filing system) unanimously endorsed the FCTC’s proposed schedule on September 28, 2011.  Florida lawyers should be prepared to electronically file all court documents well before the end of 2013 and many lawyers could have an earlier deadline for the electronic conversion depending upon the county.

Finally, appellate court clerks should be ready to accept electronic filings by July 1, 2012, with e-filing becoming mandatory for attorneys by October 1, 2012; however, nothing prevents the appellate clerks from setting up e-filing procedures ahead of the deadlines and implementing earlier mandatory e-filing.

The proposed schedule is being provided to interested parties and to a workgroup which is considering procedural rules necessary for e-filing.  The entire package will then be submitted to the Florida Supreme Court.  Oral argument on the procedural rule amendments which will be required to implement the mandatory e-filing, including the final proposed schedule, is scheduled for tomorrow, November 3, 2011.

Bottom line:  As I have said before, Florida lawyers get ready because mandatory e-filing is coming soon to a Florida courthouse near you (and apparently no later than the end of 2013).  Stay tuned…

…and be careful out there!

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