Mandatory E-filing Is Here

Kevin S. Smith

Author: Kevin S. Smith

POST DATE: 6.30.16
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The Indiana Supreme Court’s statewide electronic filing initiative marks an important milestone on July 1, 2016. For the first time in our state’s history, all attorneys are now required to file non-case initiating documents in the Hamilton Circuit and Superior Courts or in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, or Tax Court through the Indiana Electronic Filing System (“IEFS”), rather than on paper through the mail or by hand-delivery to the clerk’s office. Now, attorneys in these courts (and in all Indiana courts by the end of 2018) must use the internet to file their documents and serve them on the other attorneys in the case. Attorneys will receive service copies of filings almost instantaneously rather than several days later through the mail, and will tender their filings at any time and from anywhere they have an internet connection, rather than having to print them out, make multiple copies, and then rush to the courthouse before it closes or to a post office box before the day’s last pick up.

For the time being, e-filing remains voluntary in Hamilton County and the state’s appellate courts for unpresented parties, and remains voluntary for attorneys in many other trial courts throughout the state. In addition, filings that initiate a new case (such as the complaint and summons, notice of appeal, etc.) may, for a few more months at least, continue to be filed and served on paper through conventional means.

To e-file, attorneys must first select an electronic filing service provider (“EFSP”), which provides the interface the attorneys use to interact with the IEFS. Currently, five EFSPs have been approved by the Supreme Court. Attorneys can use their chosen EFSP to file in any court in Indiana that allows e-filing, regardless of the case management system the court uses, thereby saving attorneys from having to learn new e-filing interfaces each time they have a case in a different court. Each EFSP provides training and support to varying degrees, and information regarding such training and support can be found here.

To effectuate this change to mandatory e-filing at the appellate level, the Supreme Court made significant revisions to the Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure that became effective on July 1st, to coincide with the mandatory e-filing “go live” date. These rule changes were developed by a team of public and private sector appellate attorneys, court attorneys and staff, and county clerks led by Church Church Hittle + Antrim partner Kevin S. Smith in his former role as Clerk of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and Tax Court. The rule changes were then tested for many months by attorneys who voluntarily e-filed documents in their Supreme Court and Court of Appeals cases, and their constructive feedback assisted and shaped the final version of the rule changes that the Supreme Court approved. Some of the most important changes affect how confidential records are filed, how briefs and appendices are prepared and assembled, and how transcripts are prepared and submitted.

In addition, certain appellate case records are now available to the public for free over the Supreme Court’s website. Earlier this year the Supreme Court made appellate briefs available on-line, and starting July 1, appellate motions are now available as well. Attorneys should keep this in mind when filing their motions and briefs -- misfiling confidential information, or including uncivil or scandalous statements in motions and briefs, will now have a much greater impact on the parties now that these documents are available immediately on the internet. “Making an efficient transition to mandatory e-filing is extremely important to us as a firm to ensure we continue to provide the same level of effective and consistent service to our clients throughout the process,” said CCHA Managing Partner, Steven Lutz. Besides Kevin’s experience at the appellate level, many CCHA attorneys have been involved in the Hamilton County e-filing initiative since it began in 2015 and have already voluntarily filed hundreds of documents with the Hamilton County Circuit and Superior Courts through the IEFS. As a result, CCHA is uniquely prepared for this change to mandatory e-filing.

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