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Holiday season has e-filing numbers trending downward

Senior Editor Top Stories

E-Filing AuthorityThe statewide E-Filing Portal continued its downward submission trend in October and November, according to the Florida Courts E-Filing Authority.

Meeting December 12, the board reviewed the October and November Portal filing statistics. Total documents filed through the Portal were 2.53 million (in 1.73 million submissions) in October. That number was up 7% from September’s total, however, the November numbers paint a much different story.

Total documents filed through the Portal were 2.35 million (in 1.60 million submissions) in November. November’s filing data was down nearly 8% from October’s submissions and down nearly 19% from August’s record high of 1.97 million submissions.

According to Portal Program Manager Carolyn Weber, the November downslide is par for the course.

“With the Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving holidays during the month, the November numbers are generally lower,” Weber said. “This November was no different and that trend should continue with the December holidays approaching.”

The average number of weekday submissions was 86,245 in November and 85,462 in October. The average number of days to the docket has seen a substantial increase over the last two months jumping to 1.10 in October and a year-high of 1.37 in November. The November number increased by over 80% from September’s 0.75 days.

Filing activity for the appellate courts was also slightly lower last month. District courts of appeal saw 10,376 submissions, down 16% from August. Submissions to the Florida Supreme Court also dropped. The 367 cases received by the high court were down 5% from the previous month.

Filling activity for the appellate courts rose 9% in October. District courts of appeal saw 11,375 submissions up from September’s 10,376. Supreme Court filings were up nearly 19% in October rising to 440 submissions, which were up from September’s 367.

In November, appellate and Supreme Court numbers mirrored the same downward trend in submissions. District courts of appeal saw 10,705 submissions, which was down 5% from October with Supreme Court submissions down over 20% at 350.

Additionally, the board’s general counsel, Lynn Hoshihara, read a letter received by Carol Jean LoCicero of Thomas & LoCicero law firm, which represented Courthouse News Service in an order granting injunctive relief, Case No. 4:22cv106-MW/MAF. In the settlement agreement from that case, the E-Filing Authority was required to implement a statewide Portal review queue for circuit civil complaints.

The site, titled “Statewide Non-Confidential Circuit Civil Filings,” provides public access to all circuit civil submissions over the past five days beginning with the newest first. The public access database made its debut on October 29.

In her letter, LoCicero thanked the E-Filing Authority board and staff for their “swift implementation of the public filing access system.”

Elaborating further, LoCicero said, “In many ways, with respect to circuit civil complaints, the public filings access system has restored the Florida judicial branch to being one of the most transparent state judicial branches in the country.”

According to Weber, the statewide public access site has received 13,937 unique views since its launch six weeks ago.

The board also reviewed and approved the authority’s 2021-2022 annual report that according to Weber will be released in the next month or so.

Finally, the board discussed the implementation of HB 905 regarding protective injunctions, passed during the 2022 legislative session. The bill specifies the timeframe in which a clerk of court must transmit documents relating to protective injunctions to the appropriate local sheriff or law enforcement agency. The bill also provides that electronically submitted copies of injunctions must be served in the same manner as certified copies.

The bill had an effective date of October 1, and Weber indicated that the protective injunctions would go through the Portal.

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