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Proposed Federal Court Rules Authorizing Courts to Mandate Electronic Filing -- Opportunity for Comment To February 15

Thursday, December 23, 2004

  • By: Richard Zorza
  • Organization: Richard Zorza

The Rules Committee of the Federal Judicial Conference has proposed amendments to the Federal Appellate, Bankruptcy, and District Court Rules, that would appear to permit the mandating of electronic filing.

The proposed amendment to Rule 5(e)(2) of the Civil Rules is typical. It would amend the Rule to add the underlined language to the current text of Rule 5(e)(2).

". . . . A court may by local rule permit or require papers to be filed, signed or verified by electronic means that are consistent with technical standards, if any, that the Judicial Conference of the United States establishes. . . ."

The Committee Note reads as follows:

"Amended Rule 5(e) acknowledges that many courts have required electronic filing by means of a standing order, procedures manual, or local rule. These local practices reflect the advantages that courts and most litigants realize from electronic filing. Courts requiring electronic filing recognize the need to make exceptions for parties who cannot easily file by electronic means, and often recognize the advantage of more general "good cause" exceptions. Experiences with these local practices will facilitate gradual converge on uniform exceptions, whether in local rules or an amended Rule 5(e)."

The deadline for written comments is February 15, 2005.

There will also be hearings on these proposed changes taking place in Washington DC, San Francisco, and Dallas TX. Different dates are for different rules, and full information, including rules text, and the Committee Memo, including hearing dates, appears at http://www.uscourts.gov/rules/newrules1.html. It should be noted that the 30 day deadlines for filing a notice of intent to appear at the hearings are fast approaching or passed as of mid December 2004.

As to substance, it should be noted that the language of the proposed Rule does not require any exceptions, even for those unable to file electronically, although the Committee Note does note that courts recognizze the need for exceptions. This has obvious access to justice implications.
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