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October 15, 2012
Supreme Court pushes back appellate e-filing

Citing delays in technology, the Florida Supreme Court has pushed back the mandatory deadlines for electronic filings for itself and the district courts of appeal. The court, in a September 19 order, also spelled out a procedure for circuit court clerks to seek delays in their e-filing implementation.

In a June 21 order, the court had set October 1 as the deadline for mandatory electronic filing for all the appellate courts. In the new order, the court noted: “It is appearing that the technology is not in place for this court and some district courts of appeal to accept and process electronic filings by the October 1, 2012, effective date . . . the court, on its own motion, finds it necessary to postpone that effective date.”

The court set December 1 as the date for mandatory e-filing for the Supreme Court and April 1, 2013, as the date for the district courts of appeal. If those courts are already accepting electronic documents, those clerks can continue to do so.

Aside from the appellate deadlines, in the June 21 order the court set April 1, 2013, as the deadline for trial courts to electronically accept all civil filings and October 1, 2013, as the deadline for mandatory filing of all criminal matters. The September 19 order also acknowledged that trial courts may have trouble meeting those deadlines.

“Any clerk may submit a request with this court to delay the effective date of the e-filing rules and procedures in any court or division of a court,” the latest order said. “If the request in granted, an Administrative Order will be issued, which will be published on the [Supreme] Court’s website and on the requesting court’s website.”

The court also ordered the Florida Court E-Filing Authority, which oversees the Internet portal through which all Florida court e-filing will be accomplished, to file a report by October 5 on the readiness of each trial and appellate court for electronic filing.

“The report must explain why the e-portal is not currently available for electronic filing at each trial and appellate court and the action being taken to make it available,” the court said.

The Florida Courts Technology Commission, which is overseeing the transformation of state courts from paper to electronic documents, was ordered by the court to review the authority’s report and tell the court how that would affect the overall implementation of electronic filing. That response is due November 1.

“Although the implementation dates for the new [e-filing] rules in the trial courts remain unchanged by this order, FCTC also may propose new implementation dates for the trial courts, if warranted,” the court said.

[Revised: 11-15-2013]