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Mandatory criminal e-filing delayed

Senior Editor Regular News

Mandatory criminal e-filing delayed

Senior Editor

Voluntary electronic filing for criminal cases has begun for some Florida courts, but a Supreme Court administrative order has delayed mandatory filing until February 3, 2014.

Chief Justice Polston Chief Justice Ricky Polston issued an administrative order on September 27 following a readiness report compiled by the Florida Courts E-Filing Authority, which oversees the portal through which electronic filing is done. The order sets new deadlines for e-filing criminal cases.

The court had set October 1 as the date for requiring electronic filing in criminal cases. E-filing in civil cases began in all but a couple counties last April 1.

Polston’s order noted that all clerks except for Hillsborough County, where new case management software is being installed, had indicated they were ready to receive criminal cases through the portal as of October 1. However, for other reasons, clerks in Broward, Lee, Miami-Dade, Pasco, and Pinellas counties requested extensions.

The administrative order immediately allowed voluntary electronic filing in all criminal divisions in all counties, except for the six listed above.

As of October 1, the order said any clerk’s office, other than in the six counties, could notify the e-filing authority in writing it was ready to receive batch criminal filings and attorneys could then begin voluntarily batch filing cases.

State attorneys and public defenders use batch filing to send multiple documents in multiple cases at one time. Private attorneys use “single-session” filing which allows filing of documents in one case at a time.

Mandatory electronic filing in those counties that begin voluntary batch filing will be no later than 30 days after that voluntary batch filing begins.

The order goes on to provide, “Except as noted below, e-filing of all criminal division documents in all counties shall be mandatory through the portal effective 12:01 a.m., Monday, February 3, 2014.”

The order granted an extension for criminal e-filing from the original October 1 date for Broward, Lee, Miami-Dade, Pasco, and Pinellas counties until the clerk and chief circuit judge agree that e-filing should begin, but provided that date should be no later than February 3, 2014. Those five counties, plus Hillsborough, were also required to submit a report no later than November 15 on their criminal case e-filing status.

If a clerk, state attorney, public defender, or local court believes its office cannot comply with the February 3 deadline, it must file an extension request, including the reasons for noncompliance and the expected compliance date, between January 1 and January 15.

In accordance with a previous order, documents initiating a criminal case from a law enforcement agency or the state attorney can continue to be filed by paper or through a local e-filing system. (For technical reasons, case initiation filings will take more time to set up through the portal and were not part of the original October 1 deadline.)

Polston ordered the e-filing authority to keep an updated list of clerks who are ready to receive electronic filings on its website, www.myflcourtaccess.com .

“Additional administrative orders may be issued, as necessary, with regard to e-filing implementation dates and will be posted on the Florida Supreme Court’s website,” Polston said in the order.

“Therefore, members of The Florida Bar and all others who use the court system are requested to remain diligent in keeping track of updated requirements regarding e-filing through the portal.”

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