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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Florida State Bar Proposes Mandatory eFiling and eService Statewide


The following are a few sections of the proposed rule changes as published in the Florida Bar News on
3-21-11

The Florida Bar rules committees have filed an out-of-cycle report of proposed rule amendments to implement electronic filing of documents with courts. The Court invites all interested persons to comment on the proposed amendments, which are reproduced in full below, as well as online at http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/proposed.shtml.


FLORIDA RULE 2.520. PAPER DOCUMENTS (Strike through text is existing langauge to be deleted by this proposal. Underlined text is new proposed language.)


(a) Type and Size Electronic Filing Mandatory. All pleadings, motions, petitions, briefs, notices, orders, judgments, decrees, opinions, and other papers and official documents filed in any court shall be filed by electronic transmission in accordance with rule 2.525. “Documents” means pleadings, motions, petitions, memoranda, briefs, notices, exhibits, declarations, affidavits, orders, judgments, decrees, writs, opinions, and any other paper or writing submitted to a court.

(c) Documents Affected.

(1) All documents that are court records, as defined in rule 2.430(a)(1), may must be filed by electronic transmission, provided that:

(A) the clerk of court has the ability to accept and retain such documents;

(B) the clerk of court or the chief judge of the circuit has requested permission to accept documents filed by electronic transmission; and

(C) the Ssupreme Ccourt of Florida has entered an order granting permission to the clerk of court to accept documents filed by electronic transmission.

Any attorney, party, or other person who files a document by electronic transmission shall, immediately thereafter, file the identical document, in paper form, with an original signature of the attorney, party, or other person if a signature is otherwise required by these rules (hereinafter called the follow-up filing).


(2) The follow-up filing of any document that has previously been filed by electronic transmission may be discontinued if:


(A) after a 90-day period of accepting electronically filed documents, the clerk of court or the chief judge of the circuit certifies to the Supreme Court of Florida that the electronic filing system is efficient, reliable, and meets the demands of all parties;


(B) the clerk of court or the chief judge of the circuit requests permission to discontinue that portion of the rule requiring a follow-up filing of documents in paper form, except as otherwise required by general law, statute, or court rule; and

(C) the Supreme Court of Florida enters an order directing the clerk of court to discontinue accepting the follow-up filing.

All documents filed by electronic transmission under this rule satisfy any requirement for the filing of an original, except where the court, law, or rule of procedure otherwise provides for the submittal of an original.

If you are a process server in Florida you may be wondering so what does this have to do with me? That depends upon the types of services you are offering your law firm customers. 

  1. If you are providing court filing for a fee to your customers in those counties that are currently enabled for eFiling it likely means that you will no longer have any role in the filing of any court documents.                                                                                 
  2. If you provide court filing as part of your service of process package or bundled price in those counties that are enabled for eFiling it likely means that you will no longer be able to say that the court filing task is part of what justifies your bundled service of process price.   
  3. If you file your certificates of service as part of your service of process bundled price in those courts that are enabled for eFiling it likely means that you will no longer be able to say that the court filing of the certificate is part of what justifies your bundled service of process price.   
  4. If on the other hand you hate dealing with the courts, standing in line to see a clerk and otherwise waiting for documents to be filed in those courts that are enabled for eFiling you are in luck if this proposed rule change is adopted. 
It is also worth noting that the Florida Supreme Court is also considering an amendment to the rules of civil procedure that will mandate electronic service of all court documents subsequent to the initial documents filed in a new action.  

That means that Florida attorneys will no longer be able to use a messenger, courier, overnight provider, fax or U.S. mail to give notice to all parties for all documents subsequent to the initial documents filed in a new action. 

It appears the State Courts of Florida are embarking upon a journey into a Brave New World.


posted by Jeff Karotkin