E-Filing Settling Down

  • Posted by Bruce McDonald
  • April 07, 2014
  • (0) Comments

How is Electronic Filing doing in Florida probate courts?

 Progress is slow, and in a few cases going backward, but from a statewide perspective we see hope that electronic filing one day will be what the proponents thought it could be.

For example, we're no longer seeing certain judges require the paper filing of all "verified pleadings." Nearly every petition is verified, so what's the point of e-filing if you have to send in the paper version anyway?

Also, we're seeing consistency, even if no uniformity, in whether a court will require a proposed order to be submitted by mail on paper, as a separate document through the e-portal, or as an attachment to an e-filed letter or petition. Court clerks take great pride in being "constitutional officers," which they interpret to mean "going my own way." But as long as they play the same tune in any given county, the lawyers can learn to dance to it. It's when they keep changing the rules in that county that we start cursing under our breath.

Will we see "electronic signatures" soon, as we see with the Florida Department of State on corporate filings? The use of " /s/ [name]" instead of a scanned signature makes things much easier, no doubt, but so far few lawyers have tried that and few clerks have stated their position on them. Such electronic signatures are specifically authorized by Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.515(c)(1)(C), so there appears no doubt that this will become very common in the future.

Paper filing of court documents goes back many centuries, if we include vellum, made from sheepskin. Our clerks must be forgiven if they have problems switching, practically overnight from a historic perspective, to a brave new world of "nothing we can put our hands on." It's a rocky road, but we will get there.