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.”

 

 

Final Call – Oregon eService CLE

This is your final call for
Oregon eService – happening this Wednesday, June 6, 2018 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., PDT.

This live, online webinar is for experts and novices alike. An opportunity to polish skills and apply tips straight from the courthouse or understand eService from the ground up.

Topics include:

Using eService

  • How to eServe in four easy steps
  • Service of process in the eFiling world: UTCR 21.100
  • Six compelling reasons to use eService

Identifying eService Exceptions

  • To eServe or not to eServe

Responding to Service Contact Issues

  • Requirements of UTCR 21.100(2)(a)
  • Pursuing sanctions under UTCR 1.090(2)
  • Best practice recommendations

Deliberating the Case of: eService vs. Service by Email

  • UTCR 21.100(4) vs. ORCP 9G
  • Pros, cons, and myths of service by email
  • Best practice recommendations

Drawing on Courthouse Wisdom: Do’s and Don’ts

  • How to use the “filing on behalf of” field
  • Should you or shouldn’t you serve yourself?
  • Multiple service methods
  • How to copy firm members on filings
  • Proper Certificates of Service
  • And more!

Getting Help and Improving eFile & Serve

  • Get assistance and give your input

Registration Closes One Hour Before the Live Program!
$25 – Visit the Upcoming CLE page or choose the registration link below. Secure payment processing powered by Eventbrite. Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express accepted. Program materials included in the registration price. Registration closes at 9:00 a.m. on June 6.  Program start time is 10:00 a.m.

REGISTER NOW
Oregon eService CLE

 FAQs

Are group discounts available?
Yes.  Discounts are available to firms who register 5 or more attendees.
To receive a discount code, contact me before you register: 
beverly@oregonlawpracticemanagement.org.
Requests for discount codes must be received by Tuesday, June 5 at 1:00 p.m.

Do the Programs Include Written Materials? 
Yes. Written materials are distributed electronically to attendees.

Are questions welcome?
Absolutely. Questions may be submitted any time during the live event or afterward via email. Attendees are also encouraged to participate in live, anonymous polling.

Where is the program being held?
This program is a live, online webinar.

MCLE Credits
1.25 practical skills/general MCLE credits have been issued by the Oregon State Bar.

Can’t Attend?
Video and audio recordings will be available to download along with the program materials shortly after the live program event.  Price: $25. Contact me or visit my online CLE store to place an order.

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 or the form below.  Other sample certificates 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

 

Failure to Check Spam Folder Leads to Missed Deadline

Court notices delivered via email are a known point of vulnerability for law firms: failure to timely check messages, accidental deletion of court notices, or haphazard review of spam folders.

Now The Researching Paralegal reports on the latest variation of this theme.

A trial court clerk in Florida served an order by email awarding a significant amount of attorney fees to the prevailing party (appellee).  The opponent/appellant claimed it did not receive the order, resulting in its failure to file an appeal.  What happened? The opponent/appellant’s email system automatically deleted the court’s email as spam.

The opponent/appellant asked the court to vacate the original order on the grounds of excusable neglect.  The trial court declined and Florida’s First District Court of Appeal affirmed. The Researching Paralegal cites these factors:

First, the review of the court clerk’s email logs confirmed that the email with the court’s order was served and received by the law firm’s server. Second, the law firm’s email configuration made it impossible to determine whether the firm’s server received the email. Third, the law firm’s former IT specialist’s advice against this configuration flaw was deliberately rejected by the law firm because its alternative cost more money.

The trial court concluded the law firm made a conscious decision to use a defective email configuration merely to save money, which was not “excusable neglect.”

Another nail in the coffin was testimony by the appellee’s attorney. His firm assigned a paralegal to check the court’s website every three weeks to safeguard that his firm would not miss any orders or deadlines.  The court held that the appellant had a duty to check the court’s electronic docket.

Emerald Coast Utilities Authority v. Bear Marcus Pointe, LLCCase No. 1D15-5714, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 1st Dist (2017).

What can we learn from Emerald Coast?

  1. Whitelist important email. Set your spam or junk email filters to allow receipt of messages from approved senders or domains. Include courts, administrative agencies, key clients, opposing counsel, and any other senders whose email you don’t want to miss.
  2. Review spam quarantine summaries daily. Aggressive spam filters will occasionally block senders and domains you have added to your whitelist if the filter finds content in the email to be possible spam.  Addresses and domains may also change, causing new notices to be marked as spam.
  3. Don’t forget to look at your junk mail folder, another place where legitimate messages can land.
  4. Check online court dockets. Weekly will work for most firms; others may need to login daily, depending on case volume.
  5. Listen to your IT staff.  Here, the IT specialist argued against automatic deletion of junk and spam messages and recommended hiring a third-party vendor to handle spam filtering.  He also suggested investing in an online backup system, another idea rejected by the law firm.  Following either of these recommendations may have prevented the firm from missing the deadline.

A few more takeaways

  • It should be clear, but just in case:  everyone needs a backup system. If you can’t afford the cost of an online subscription, buy an external hard drive on sale and use the backup utility built into your operating system.  For backup protocols and additional backup options, see How to Backup Your Computer from the Professional Liability Fund (Practice Management > Forms > Technology).
  • Can’t afford a third-party vendor for spam filtering or another IT task?  Understandable, but the work itself still needs to get done. This may mean you, your partner, or your staff.  Technology is a tool, not a substitute for human judgment.

There are some other interesting twists and turns in Emerald Coast.  For examplethe law firm also refused to join in on a motion for a case management conference – a step that would have likely revealed the existence of the attorney fee award.  Additionally, automatic deletion of spam wasn’t the only email configuration procedure that caused problems for this office.  If you have a few moments, read the full opinion here.

Beverly Michaelis – All Rights Reserved 2017

eChecks and eCourt

The most recent issue of the Capitol Insider reminded bar members that OJD eFiling now accepts electronic checks (eChecks) as a payment method.  You can setup an eCheck account at the OJD HTML 5 eFiling Site.  (If you’re still using the “Silverlight” version of OJD eFiling go here.)

What are eChecks?

The term “eCheck” attempts to lend a familiar name to a new(er) process, but the descriptor also leads to confusion.  

What eChecks are not

  • eChecks are not “checks” in the traditional sense. 
  • They require no special setup.
  • There is no cost to using eChecks.
  • You don’t have to visit your bank to start using eChecks.

What eChecks Are

  • A way to send electronic payments directly from your bank account.
  • Equivalent to electronic transfers or ACH payments.
  • Used by merchants like PayPal.

What do I need to know to pay by eCheck?

If you have a bank account and know your routing and account numbers, you can pay by eCheck.

HOW QUICKLY DO ECHECK TRANSACTIONS CLEAR MY BANK?

eCheck payments generally clear within 24-48 hours.

Are there any advantages to using eChecks?

Yes!

  • The May issue of the Capitol Insider reports that using eChecks will “keep costs down and limit future increases in filing fees.” This makes sense because eChecks eliminate credit card processing fees. Paying by eCheck is free to both parties – the payor/eFiler and the payee/OJD. It is a bank-to-bank transaction.
  • Bookkeeping will be simpler for OSB eFilers. Paying eFiling fees by credit card requires the extra step of reconciling your credit card statement to your eCourt account. And there is also the matter of billing. Even if you bill or post a filing fee expense to your client’s account when it is incurred, this only improves the timing of your reimbursement – it doesn’t shorten the accounting steps.
  • You now have the flexibility to easily use your trust account as a source of paying filing fees. (A debit card tied to your trust account is also permissible, but be sure to take proper steps to protect client funds.)
  • Lawyers who don’t have credit cards won’t be forced to get one just to use the OJD eFiling system.
  • Lawyers who can’t get credit cards will no longer be penalized.
  • Firms won’t have to set up special reminders to renew or update credit card information in OJD eFiling accounts, since routing and bank account numbers never expire. Do remember to update your payment information if you change banks!

Do you currently have a debit or credit card dedicated to paying eCourt filing fees?

If yes, and you make the switch to eChecks, quit using your debit or credit card for eCourt filing fees. This starts the process of closing your account. Verify that all pending transactions have been processed. Reconcile your final card statement, bill clients, then wait an additional month before you direct your bank or processor cancel your account. There should be no more debit or credit activity during this time. Assuming all transactions are accounted for, close your account. Remember to delete your debit or credit card from the OJD eFiling system.

NOTE

If your debit/credit card is used for other purposes beyond paying eCourt fees, ignore this advice.

How do I set up eCheck payments?

Users can create an eCheck payment account under Payment Accounts in FIRM ADMIN. If you need help with this process on the HMTL 5 site, download the Firm Administrator Guide 3.15 available here.  You can also get help with this step from the vendor, Tyler Technologies:

New Terms of Use

With the addition of eChecks as a payment method, the OJD and Tyler Technologies Terms of Use have been updated. View the new TOU here

All Rights Reserved 2017 Beverly Michaelis