Wednesday, July 3, 2013
It looks like the Judicial Council is going to make it mandatory to E-file all courthouse filings through-out the state within the near future. An initial pilot program requiring E-filing at Orange County Superior Court has already been in effect. The OCSC E-filing project initially only applied to complex cases, and then was gradually expanded to include all filings over a phased-in period of time.
E-filing means that the litigant must download his legal pleadings and send them to an approved vendor, who will then electronically file same with the court. Either the litigant or the vendor must have an approved on-line payment system in effect in order to satisfy any filing fees required by that particular court.
As is the case with all things in the computer age, there are advantages and disadvantages to E-filing.
Advantages allow the litigant to directly file their pleadings, without traveling to the courthouse to do so; and to file documents as late as midnight of the given business day in which they are filed. The latter fact may be important if a litigant is trying to get something on file before a relevant Statute of Limitations expires. You also don't have to stand in line at the clerk's offices to get something on file.
Disadvantages would include the following: A service fee is charged by a vendor for each E-filing, using in the amount of $9.95 for all court documents pertinent to one case that are being E-filed at one time; you must go to the trouble of scanning each document that must be E-filed (many times various types of motions may literally include dozens if not hundreds of pages); many vendors charge the litigant an "advance fee" for all filing fees that they advance on behalf of the litigant; and to those who do not have a computer or are unsophisticated re same, the E-filing requirements may be a major hassle or outright obstacle, especially if they do not have an attorney and are representing themselves in an action.
Bottom-line: E-filing is inevitable, but it costs litigants more for the ostensible purpose of making the court system more efficient.