Tips from Your Local Courthouse about eCourt

The latest eCourt Open Hours held by Oregon’s Fourth Judicial District revealed some useful tips and reminders.  The session was recorded by the Professional Liability Fund and is available on the PLF website as eService for Criminal Filings. 

Whether you practice criminal or civil law, there are good lessons to be gleaned from this presentation:

Service

  • Adding yourself as a service contact is required: “At the time of preparing the filer’s first eFiling, a filer must enter in the electronic filing system the name and service email address of the filer, designated as a service contact on behalf of the party the filer represents.”  UTCR 21.100(2).  You must attach your service contact information to every case the first time you eFile into a matter.
  • Until the other side appears and adds itself as a service contact, you must use conventional methods of service. Reminder: you cannot add the opposing party as a service contact to accomplish eService.
  • In criminal cases, the defense may be the first side to “appear.”  If this is true, use conventional service methods until the district attorney eFiles into the case.  In some counties (Deschutes), the district attorney’s office may file a “Notice of Acceptance of eService” at inception.  In such cases, eService is permissible.
  • To accomplish service in the Tyler Odyssey system, change your selection from eFile (the default setting) to eFile & Serve. Avoid multiple methods of service – they are a waste of time.
  • It is permissible to use a generic Certificate of Service where you check a box indicating the method of service (eService, personal service, etc.)
  • For what to include in a Certificate of Service, see UTCR 2.020.  See the example below.  Other examples were shown during the eService for Criminal Filings presentation, recorded by the PLF.

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

I certify that I eServed the within (Name of Document) on the following person(s) at the party’s email address as recorded on the date of service in the eFiling system:

(Name of Person Served)
(Title of Party, such as Attorney for Plaintiff)

Dated: (Date)

(Insert signature line)

eFiling Tips

  • Complete the “filing on behalf of field” so court staff and others know which party filed the document.
  • File Certificates of Service with the document being served.  UTCR 21.040(2), requiring unified, single PDFs.
  • Reminder: the system does not automatically notify filers when a document is filed in a case.

Substitutions of Counsel

If you are substituting in for another attorney, file a Notice of Substitution not a mere Notice of Representation. Include:

  • The date of any scheduled trial or hearing
  • Serve the substitution on the current attorney and opposing party/attorney
  • Attach a Certificate of Service (filed with the notice as a single unified PDF)
  • Add yourself as a service contact in the case.  UTCR 3.140(1).

eCourt Notifications

Use the “admin copy” area of eFile & Serve to add email addresses for others in the firm who wish to be copied on documents filed in the case.

Technical Issues

The Microsoft Edge web browser may not be fully compatible with Odyssey eFile & Serve.  If you experience problems, try Chrome, Microsoft Explorer, or another browser.

All Rights Reserved 2017 Beverly Michaelis

 

The Best Legal Blog Posts of 2016

2016-word-cloudIf you’ve followed my blog for a year or more, you know I generally publish a “Year in Review” post.  This December I thought I’d take a slightly different approach. Instead of a comprehensive list, I’m filtering it down to my personal favorites. And while it may be controversial, I’m calling this compilation The Best Legal Blog Posts of 2016.  There is plenty of good stuff out there, but this is the best that has appeared here.  Mostly my content, but also sourced from other great writers.

Client Relations

eCourt and court procedures

Finances

Marketing

Security

Staffing

Technology

Time Management

All Rights Reserved 2016 Beverly Michaelis

eCourt Malpractice Traps and Relation Back

eCourt is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Convenient? Absolutely! But with convenience comes risk.

Tempted by the generous schedule, Clickhere_medFLT_490x250it is easy to form the habit of postponing filing until shortly before midnight on the day the filing is due.

While far from ideal, last-minute filing will succeed if your document is accepted. But therein lies the trap. Acceptance is not instantaneous. It may take one to three court days before the clerk processes your document. What happens if the statute of limitations expires during this time?

If you receive notice that your filing was rejected after the statute of limitations has run, your only hope is to request relation back. Beyond strict compliance with the rules – which lay out a detailed scheme for resubmitting your filing and seeking relation back – there are other nuances in play. Handling relation back correctly means your client’s case goes forward. Mishandling relation back may result in a legal malpractice claim.

To understand what is at stake, and the specific steps you need to take, let’s begin by reviewing the filing process:

When is a Filing Accepted?

As noted above, eCourt filings are not automatically accepted when submitted. Every filing is reviewed by a court clerk:

  • If the court accepts the document for filing, the date and time of filing entered in the register relate back to the date and time the electronic filing system received the document. When the court accepts the document, the electronic filing system will affix the date and time of submission on the document, thereby indicating the date and time of filing of the document. UTCR 21.080(4).
  • If the court rejects a document submitted electronically for filing, the electronic filing system will send an email to the filer that explains why the court rejected the document, unless the filer has elected through system settings not to receive the email. The email will include a hyperlink to the document. UTCR 21.080(5).

Resubmitting a Rejected Filing

If you receive notice that your filing has been rejected after the statute or deadline is expired, follow UTCR 21.080(5)(a) to the letter. Correcting your original filing mistake and resubmitting your document is not enough to receive relation back.

To apply for relation-back to the original filing date, follow these steps:

  1. Diagnose and fix your filing error. The rejection notice issued by the electronic filing system will explain why the court rejected your document.
  2. Resubmit the document within 3 days of the date of rejection. If the third day following rejection is not a judicial day, then resubmit the filing the next judicial day. Resubmission means submission of the document through the electronic filing system or physical delivery of the document to the court. UTCR 21.080(5)(a).
  3. Include a cover letter with your resubmitted filing that contains the following information:
    1. the date of the original submission
    2. the date of the rejection
    3. an explanation of the reason you are requesting the date of filing to relate back to the original submission
    4. include the words “RESUBMISSION OF REJECTED FILING, RELATION-BACK DATE OF FILING REQUESTED” in the subject line of your cover letter. UTCR 21.080(5)(a)(i).
  4. If your resubmission is filed electronically the words “RESUBMISSION OF REJECTED FILING, RELATION-BACK DATE OF FILING REQUESTED” must also be included in the Filing Comments Field. UTCR 21.080(5)(a)(ii).

Mistakes Happen

If you apply for relation back and realize that you did not fully comply with UTCR 21.080(5)(a), what should you do? If you are within the three day window for resubmission, there is no harm in trying again. The rule does not limit filers to a single resubmission attempt.  Resubmit your filing a second time, with the proper cover letter and required information in the filing comments field. Be aware that getting relation back – even when you meet the technical requirements set forth in UTCR 21.080(5) – is within the court’s discretion and not guaranteed. While every effort is made to ensure uniform application of the rules, practices may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Furthermore, responding parties may object to a request for relation back within the time limits as provided by law for the type of document being filed. UTCR 21.080(5)(b).

These are important points for eFilers to grasp. Even if you fully and timely comply with UTCR 21.080(5), getting relation back is not an automatic right. Your best defense is to do it right the first time and follow the tips at the end of this article.

Technical Difficulties

There is one other basis for requesting relation back. If the eFiling system is temporarily unavailable or if an error in the transmission of the document or other technical problem prevents the eFiling system from receiving a document, the court may, upon satisfactory proof, permit relation back. UTCR 21.080(6).

A filer seeking relation back due to “technical difficulties” must follow the same steps as any other filer resubmitting a rejected filing. (See the steps described above in Resubmitting a Rejected Filing.) In addition, the filer is permitted to attach supporting exhibits that substantiate the system malfunction.

PRACTICE TIP:  Slightly different language is required in the cover letter and filing comments field if relation back is sought under UTCR 21.080(6): “RESUBMISSION OF REJECTED FILING, SUBMISSION UNSUCCESSFUL, RELATION-BACK DATE OF FILING REQUESTED.”

CAVEAT: Technical problems with the filer’s equipment or attempted transmission within the filer’s control will not generally excuse an untimely filing.
UTCR 21.080(6).

What If Relation Back is Denied?

If relation back is denied, contact the claims attorneys at the Professional Liability Fund.

Staying Out of Trouble

Avoid falling into the relation-back malpractice trap by following these tips:

[All Rights Reserved 2016 Beverly Michaelis]

 

Bankruptcy for the Non-Bankruptcy Lawyer

On October 14, presenters Christine Coers-Mitchell and Johnston Mitchell of Coers Mitchell Law LLC presented Bankruptcy for the Non-Bankruptcy Lawyer.  Topics included decoding “bankruptcy talk,” what to do if a bankruptcy filing occurs during litigation, how to settle a bankruptcy claim, how to handle divorce-related bankruptcy issues, strategies for creating “bankruptcy proof” agreements and transfers, and bankruptcy issues involving real property.

Below is a compilation of the best tips from this CLE via Storify 

Access Bankruptcy for the Non-Bankruptcy Lawyer here  or click on the image below:

2015-10-16_9-42-33

[All Rights Reserved 2015 Beverly Michaelis]