Revisiting eFiling Tips

Are you an eFiling expert? Even so, it never hurts to refresh your memory on the
“best of” eFiling tips. Here are some from our friends at Smokeball, purveyors of law practice management software:

Use a separate and distinct eFiling email address
This ensures that important court notices won’t get buried in your unread work or personal messages.

Check your spam and junk email folders
Court mail lands here more often than you might think.

Whitelist important senders
While not full proof, this step at least offers some assurance that messages are more likely to make it to your inbox. Learn more here.

Check the online court docket
This is a simple and effective way to verify that you’ve captured important court deadlines in your calendar.

Don’t wait until the last-minute
Last-minute filings are more likely to go wrong than right. Give yourself a cushion of time to do the job right – and recover from any mistakes.

Sound familiar? I’ve made these same points many times here, in CLEs, and elsewhere. See Nuts and Bolts of Oregon eCourt and Zero Tolerance for e-Filing Error.

Are you an eFiling novice?

If so, check out the “Oregon eFiling Checklist for First Time eFiler,” on the Professional Liability Fund website. From the homepage, select Practice Management > Forms > eCourt. For a thorough overview of eCourt malpractice traps, see my 2017 CLE.

The case for Oregon eService

Read the October issue of the Oregon State Bar Bulletin featuring “The Case for Oregon eService: An Underused Asset.” If you missed the Oregon eService CLE earlier this year, consider ordering the video or audio recording. Answers to frequently asked questions may be found here.

All Rights Reserved – 2018 – Beverly Michaelis

Legal News and Upcoming Events

Is Mandatory Malpractice Coverage Coming to Washington?

Mandatory malpractice coverage is well known by Oregon lawyers and may be coming soon to members of the Washington bar (WSBA).

In July, the WSBA Mandatory Malpractice Insurance Task Force presented a tentative recommendation to the Board of Governors (BOG) to mandate malpractice insurance for Washington-licensed lawyers. The task force expects to present a final report to the BOG in four short months.

Next steps include:

  1. Considering feedback from the Board of Governors;
  2. Ramping up information efforts among WSBA members, and obtaining and considering additional comments received;
  3. Detailing the recommended malpractice insurance mandate, including the specific
    required coverage minimums;
  4. Identifying in detail the recommended exemptions from the professional liability
    insurance requirement; and
  5. Drafting a proposed Court Rule for the Board of Governor’s consideration

Members may submit comments to insurancetaskforce@wsba.org. The task force continues to meet monthly through the end of the year. Read the interim report here.

Free Access to PACER

This past week, the ABA Journal reported a potential end to PACER fees:

A new bill before the U.S House of Representatives would prohibit the federal courts from charging for public documents. The Electronic Court Records Reform Act would require that documents downloaded from the PACER database be free. Currently, the repository for federal court documents charges up to 10 cents a page.

The article notes that PACER has become a reliable money-maker for federal courts, pulling in $150 million in fees in 2015 alone.

Of further interest to federal court practitioners, the proposed bill would require documents to be posted to PACER within five days of being filed in federal court in a manner that allows for easy searching and linking from external websites.

Additionally, it would require consolidation of the Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system, allowing for one-stop shopping when searching for federal court cases. Presently, each court operates its own separate CM/ECF system.

Free Data Breach CLEs in Bend and Medford

The Professional Liability Fund is offering two free data breach CLES in October:

These CLEs will explain data breach, what you can do to protect your client’s information, your ethical duties, and what to do if a breach occurs. For more information, follow the links above. Register for the Bend CLE by emailing DeAnna Shields at deannas@osbplf.org. Register for the Medford CLE by emailing Eric B. Mitton at eric.mitton@cityofmedford.org.

All Rights Reserved – 2018 – Beverly Michaelis

The Case for Oregon eService

In the next issue of the Oregon State Bar Bulletin, I argue in favor of Oregon’s electronic service system – the “AndServe” of OJD eFileAndServe. Here are a few key excerpts modified for posting purposes.

State of the Art

OJD eFileAndServe is state of the art. When a document is filed, marked for service and accepted at the court, the system serves the selected service contacts by email. Included in the message is a hyperlink to the filed document. Filers receive proof of service via a service receipt/confirmation of filing acceptance and may also view the date and time a filing was opened by a service contact in the case.

Transmission of the email by the electronic filing system to selected service contacts constitutes service. Electronic service is complete when the system sends the email to the selected service contacts. UTCR 21.100(4) and (5).

Know the Rules! Written Consent to eService is Not Required

While using eService isn’t mandatory, making yourself available for eService is. UTCR 21.100(2)(a) requires entry of service contact information at the time of a filer’s first electronic filing in an action. Filers who appear in a case by eFiling documents which are accepted by the court are deemed to consent to electronic service. UTCR 21.100(1)(a). The only exception: documents that require personal service or service under ORCP 7. A written consent agreement between the parties is not required, a belief that some have promoted.

If you discover that an opponent has failed to enter his or her service contact information, make a phone call, write an email or send a letter. Keep in mind that approximately one-fifth of all respondents to a 2017 eCourt survey reported being unaware of the service contact requirements.

It Really is that Simple!

eService is accomplished in four easy steps:

  • Login to the system. From the “Filing Type” dropdown, select “eFileAndServe.”
  • Complete the filing details and save changes.
  • Select the parties you wish to serve from the Service Contacts box section.
  • Complete other data entry as needed and submit your filing.

The only difference between using eFile – which is mandatory for all Oregon lawyers – and eFileAndServe is a mouse click at login and selecting your service contacts. It really is that simple.

Prefer Service by Email?

There are important limitations on service by email – some practical, some rule-based. The forthcoming article contains a full discussion. But what about the fact that most lawyers serving by email are doing so contemporaneously with their filing submission? Does this matter?

When service is contemporaneous with filing, it means the other side is receiving a document that has not yet been accepted by the court. If acceptance is forthcoming, no harm no foul. If the document is rejected, the process must start over and a request for relation-back may be necessary.

A Better Approach

eService offers distinct advantages over service by email. Rather than sending large email attachments, lawyers who want to share information about a filing can forward the service receipt/confirmation of filing acceptance or copy the document hyperlink into a new message. This saves server space, provides proof of eFiling and eService, reduces the amount of material that must be saved to the client file and assures that parties are communicating only about accepted court filings. Document hyperlinks are active for 45 days and available 24/7 online. When retrieved, the link returns the official date-stamped document in the court register. These are just some of the features that make switching to eService worthwhile.

All Rights Reserved – 2018 – Beverly Michaelis

Tiplet: Proposed Judgments and Orders

Questions about submitting proposed judgments and orders under UTCR 5.100? Wondering what notice you have to give to the other side?  Here is a handy-dandy reference from Multnomah County’s Family Law Court, published by the Professional Liability Fund.

While this was written with family law practitioners in mind, it’s a useful resource for any practitioner.  Here are a few highlights:

What does UTCR 5.100 require?

With few exceptions, you must provide notice to the other party before submitting a proposed order or judgment. If the other party is self-represented, you must also include notice of the timeframe that party has to object. If you receive objections, you must attempt to resolve them.  Additionally, every proposed order and judgment must contain a Certificate of Readiness telling the Judge why the document is ready for judicial signature and setting out the status of any objections received.

Why do we need UTCR 5.100?

There are three main reasons why proposed orders and judgments must be processed according to this rule:

  1. Documents requiring judicial signature are routed separately through the court’s electronic case management system.  Segregating proposed orders and judgments is efficient and speeds up the signing process.
  2. There is no system which allows the court to “hold” documents waiting for time periods to pass prior to judicial signature.
  3. Pro se litigants need proper notice.

What is the notice period under UTCR 5.100?

“When the other side is represented, the drafter must wait 3 days, plus an additional 3, before submitting the document to court. When the other side is self-represented, the drafter must wait 7 days, plus an additional 3. The “3 extra days” requirement derives from ORCP 10B, which was modified by the 2015 Oregon Legislature to apply the 3-day extension to service by email, fax, and electronic service instead of just posted mail. UTCR 1.130 applies ORCP 10 to time periods set by the UTCRs.”

Other FAQs

Four pages of answers await here for practitioners.  Get answers to questions like:

  • What are the situations where a statute or rule authorizes submission [of a proposed order] without notice?
  • Can I combine my Certificate of Readiness with a Certificate of Service?
  • Is the Certificate of Readiness filed as a separate document, or somehow incorporated into my proposed order of judgment?
  • Does my Certificate of Readiness have to set out the address at which I served the other party with the copy of the proposed order/judgment?
  • Does this rule apply to Motions to Postpone?

Keep in mind that in some instances UTCR 5.100 is either unclear or does not explicitly address all situations.  This makes the FAQ re UTCR 5.100 in Multnomah County Family Court a very valuable reference.

All Rights Reserved – Beverly Michaelis – 2018

 

 

Asked and Answered: Oregon eService Questions

Last Wednesday’s Oregon eService CLE generated a lively discussion and some interesting questions. Here are a few that might interest you:

What is my date of filing?

  • The court considers a document submitted for an electronic filing when the electronic filing system receives the document.
  • 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.

For example: Assume you have a statute of limitations that runs on Wednesday, June 6, 2018.  You eFile on Wednesday, June 6, 2018.  Your document is received by the system on Wednesday, June 6, 2018.  On Monday, June 11, 2018 the court clerk reviews your filing and ACCEPTS it.  Your filing date is June 6, 2018.  The delay in processing your filing is disregarded.  Thanks to relation back, your filing is timely under UTCR 21.080(3)-(4).

Where do I find the entry date in the Register of Actions?

When interpreting the Register of Actions, refer to UTCR 21.060(3):

The following apply whether or not a document is electronically filed with the court:

(a) For the purpose of ORS 7.020(1) and (2), the date that a document was filed displays in the date column of the register of actions for the case in the court’s electronic case management system.

(b) For the purpose of ORS 7.020(2), entry occurs on the date an event is created in the register of actions. (Emphasis supplied.)

The entry date is what matters.  Always refer to the CREATED DATE field.

How does the 3-day rule in ORCP 10 apply to eCourt cases?

Thanks to Donna Van Eaton, paralegal extraordinaire with the Law Offices of Melinda M. Brown, we know that nothing has changed.

The 3-day count should start on the date your document was eFiled or submitted, i.e., the date on your Certificate of Service.  Here is the background:

ORCP 10 was last updated by the Council on Court Procedures (CCP) in 2014. The first draft of the amended rule did not refer to electronic service (January 29, 2014).  Five versions later, it was explicitly added (September 6, 2014).  The drafts and final amended rule are available to view here.

The CCP staff comments accompanying this change point out the intention – which was to treat all forms of service equally and continue current practices:

The amendment of section C continues the allowance of three additional days in computing the time in which to respond following service of a document by mail or by facsimile service without the intention to change the previous practice under Rule 9 F (facsimile service) and this section.  The same three-day extension is now made applicable to documents served by e‐mail and by the newly available electronic service, providing equal treatment of these forms of service and specifying that treatment in one provision.  The description of the additional time in section C is amended to improve clarity without the intention to change the rule’s meaning or operation.  With the establishment of eCourt, the word “paper,” appearing twice in section C, is replaced with “document.”

The 3-day computation starts on the date of submission (date of filing), not the court clerk’s acceptance date.  Keep in mind the goal of the amendment: to equalize the methods of service, preserve operation of the rule, and maintain existing practices. Historically, the 3-day extension provided by ORCP 10 was meant to compensate for possible delays when serving by mail. Extending the same benefit to service by email, fax, or eService may not be necessary, but the rule provides for it explicitly.

Withdrawing as attorney of record in the eCourt era

If you withdraw or the party you represent is dismissed from an action, UTCR 21.100(2)(a) states you “must remove (your) name and service email address as a designated service contact for a party.”  Obtaining a court order permitting your withdrawal will not automatically remove you as a service contact in the Odyssey eFileandServe system.

If you are unsure how to remove yourself as a service contact, get in touch withTyler Technologies:

If you weren’t able to attend Oregon eService, a copy of the program is available to purchase here at a cost of $25 (same as the registration fee).  Your purchase includes a video recording, audio recording, program and supplemental materials, and answers to poll questions. Apply for MCLE credit of 1.25 PS/general MCLE credits by submitting the providing MCLE 6 form.

All Rights Reserved – Beverly Michaelis – 2018

With a special thank you Donna Van Eaton at the Law Offices of Melinda M. Brown.  As Stacy D. Fawver said, “right on.”