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Florida Courts E-Filing Authority explores enhanced, for-pay services

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E-Filing Portal

The agency that runs the state courts system’s statewide electronic filing portal and The Florida Bar are going to work together to find — for a price — “value added” services for lawyers.

At its recent meeting, Clay County Clerk of Court Tara Green, secretary/treasurer of the Florida Courts E-Filing Authority, reported on efforts of the authority’s Funding Work Group to lay the groundwork for offering additional services.

She said the work group has spoken with Bar President John Stewart who has agreed to establish a joint focus group to look at potential offerings.

According to a memo Green prepared for the authority, options include:

• Providing access to dockets.

• Allowing access to images in court files.

• Offering subscriptions to certain cases that may be followed, including notifications when documents are filed in those cases.

• Offering “auto-fill” capabilities for certain types of document submissions, which will speed the filing process.

• Providing a search function to find similar type cases.

• Incorporating artificial intelligence into the portal to help filers.

• Setting up a search function so a user, in the My Cases section of the portal, can enter a case name and the remaining information will automatically be entered.

• Allowing a case’s service list to be downloaded into a word processing document.

• Giving easier access to official e-service addresses for government agencies.

• Allowing direct download of court filings.

Green said the work group’s initial focus is on modifying the interlocal agreement it operates under to allow for such ancillary activities.

That agreement, between the courts and the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers, allowed the portal to be created at no direct cost to the state or to users — other than credit card and ACH fees — when filers pay filing fees through the portal. That includes no charge for electronic service of documents accomplished through the portal.

The portal used an existing statewide system created by the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers that allowed for the online recording of documents and paying the related fees.

Although the authority is operating in the black, Green said, additional revenue sources are needed to guarantee financial stability for the authority and to pay for future expansion and improvements to the portal.

The written report to the authority noted: “In a review of other states with centralized e-filing portal, it appears that several implemented user-based fees in order to allow funding to grow in concert with the user-base. Some states add a legislative appropriation to supplement their system. While legislative funding through appropriation or case initiation fees could be sought, Florida has the volume to support minimal additional fees based on value-added services for users.”

Green said the work group hopes to have changes to the interlocal agreement ready for authority review at its August meeting.

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