Most counties now ready for civil e-filing

first_img Most counties now ready for civil e-filing November 1, 2012 Regular News Most counties now ready for civil e-filingcenter_img The Florida Courts E-Filing Portal is ready.At least that is what Florida Courts E-Filing Authority Chair Tim Smith told Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricky Polston in his report to the court early this month.He stated: “The Florida Courts ePortal is fully implemented and fully capable of transmitting electronically filed court documents for each of the trial courts.” As set forth in amended order SC 11-399, dated September 19, the Florida Courts E-Filing Authority was tasked with providing a report to the Supreme Court by October 5, so the courts could ensure that there was progress being made. The order requested that a “Readiness Report” be provided showing the status of each trial and appellate court. Further, the court asked for information about why there were delays and what steps were being taken to assure the portal was available.“We have worked diligently this year to make sure that the portal was ready and that each and every county had the opportunity to know what was needed in order to connect to the portal. It takes everyone working in tandem to do a successful end-to-end test, having the local coding ready, sending a document through the portal, being reviewed and accepted by the clerks at the portal level, then flowing seamlessly into the clerk’s local case maintenance system,” said Levi Owens, Florida Courts E-Filing portal project manager. “The amended SC 11-399 that was released this summer in June required all clerks to be ready to accept documents filed in civil cases by April 1, 2013, and in criminal cases by October 1, 2013, and we are working toward those dates.”The order requires attorneys to be e-filing by those dates, as well.Currently, the report to Chief Justice Polston shows that 52 counties are connected to the portal and able to accept civil e-filing, and the remaining 15 are working to meet the date. The 15 clerks’ offices have a variety of situations. Some can accept documents filed in one to four of the civil case types — circuit civil, county civil, family, probate, and dependency — just not in all five. Others are citing concurrent case maintenance upgrades underway that must be completed before filings though the portal can be accepted.“We went live with a new case maintenance system just a few months ago,” said Sumter County Clerk Gloria Hayward, an E-Filing Portal Authority board member. “In addition to finalizing all the conversion efforts, we are testing the portal connections for all case types. It won’t take long once we have made sure that filed documents in each of the case types will flow through the portal and into our case maintenance system, so we expect to be ready to accept documents in all 10 divisions come late October.”Progress on accepting criminal case types is ongoing. So far, clerks in Collier, Lake, Santa Rosa, and Walton counties are able to receive and process criminal case filings from their local state attorneys and public defenders. Santa Rosa County, the first clerk’s office to accept criminal case filings from its local state attorney and public defender offices, has been steadily increasing their numbers.“We have been accepting criminal filings for over 10 months now. In that time, we have had more than 10,000 criminal documents filed,” noted Santa Rosa clerk of the court Mary Johnson. “We believe our success is due to the close working relationship we have with our state attorney’s and public defender’s offices. As a result of those positive efforts, the volume of documents has steadily increased each month. Last month, we accepted over 1,500 criminal documents.”To assist their criminal justice partners, the portal development team is working with the public defender and state attorney liaisons to develop a bulk filing option to better help with the volume seen by those offices. Additionally, 12 counties have offered to be in a pilot program for criminal e-filing. They are currently in contact with their state attorney and public defender counterparts in their circuits to determine what is needed to set up a testing environment for sending documents on existing criminal cases.Smith wrote that work is ongoing with the appellate courts and that they will be phased in over the next year. The portal development team is working with the appellate courts and their case management vendor to begin with case processing in the Supreme Court in December. As with e-filing at the trial court level, there will be a limited number of attorneys filing for about 90 days to check that everything is working smoothly.The amended order SC 11-399 has the Florida Courts Technology Commission (FCTC) reviewing the authority’s report to address how the implementation schedule will impact the new implementation dates in the order, including a review of the mandatory dates for the trial court level, as well. That report is requested by November 1.But, the portal is ready and operating — to the tune of 232,993 documents filed over the past nine months and 25,888 documents in September alone.Monthly status reports for each county are posted on the Florida Courts E-Filing Authority homepage, under County Status. The October report can be directly accessed at: http://www.flclerks.com/e-Filing_Authority/Resources/EFA_Documents/Oct_2012/eFiling_Report-October-FINAL.pdf . ( Editor’s Note: The information in this story was compiled by the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers, which staffs the Florida Court’s E-Filing Authority, and was edited by the News .)last_img