eCourt Malpractice Traps 2017

Polish your Oregon eCourt knowledge and avoid potential malpractice traps with this 2017 CLE update.

Topics include:

  • Relation Back Malpractice Traps – Defining filing “acceptance,” notification of rejected filings, the process for seeking relation back, right to object, judicial discretion, system errors, multiple filing attempts, and what to do if your relation-back request is denied.
  • Ever-changing Rules and Software – Recent out-of-cycle amendments to the UTCRs, proposed UTCR changes for 2017, and upgrades to the Odyssey eFile & Serve software (Silverlight vs. HTML 5).
  • Common Reasons for Rejected Filings – A review of 12 of the most common filing errors and where to find OJD standards for electronic filings in circuit courts.
  • How to Avoid eCourt Malpractice Traps – Where and how to get help with OJCIN, eFiling, and questions about rules plus key resources from the Professional Liability Fund, Oregon Judicial Department, Odyssey, and others.

Date/Time/Location

Wednesday, April 5, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time.  This is a live, online webinar. Watch from your desktop computer or mobile device. Connect to audio via telephone or computer/device speakers.

Who Should Attend?

Lawyers, office managers, administrators, and staff.  If you want to avoid common malpractice traps, need a refresher on changes to the Uniform Trial Court Rules or eFiling software, or want to discover the most common mistakes made by Oregon eFilers, attend this CLE.

Does the Program Include Written Materials?

Yes.  Written materials will be distributed electronically to all registered attendees prior to the event.

Ask Questions/Participate in Live Polling

Questions are welcome during the live event.  Attendees are also encouraged to participate in live, anonymous polling.

Registration Fee

$25 – Visit the CLE Events page, click here, or choose the Register button below. Secure payment processing powered by Eventbrite. Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express accepted. Program materials included in the registration price.

MCLE Credits
2.0 Practical Skills/General MCLE Credits pending.

Eventbrite - eCourt Malpractice Traps 2017

Can’t Attend?

Video and audio recordings of eCourt Malpractice Traps 2017 will be available to download along with the program materials following the April 5 CLE. Price: $25. Contact me for more information.

All Rights Reserved [2017] 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]

 

OJD iForms – Interactive Court Forms for the Public

In keeping with eCourt’s goal to simplify court access, the Oregon Judicial Department has created iForms – interactive interview-based forms that can be completed online. Here is what you need to know:

Who Can Use iForms?

iForms are designed for “self-represented filers” (the public).  Using Tyler Technology’s Guide & File system, the user proceeds through a self-guided interview process to generate a completed court form.

Are iForms Available for all Case Types?

No.  At this time, forms are limited to the following:

  • Small Claims – file a small claim or respond to a small claim
  • Residential FED-Eviction – file a residential eviction
  • Satisfaction of Money Award – court documentation of debt paid
  • Renew a FAPA Restraining Order – must have a current Restraining Order

Will Additional iForms be Added in the Future?

Yes.  The OJD press release states: “Our next step will be expanding use of these forms into dissolution, child custody, and other family law cases.”

Is There a Fee to Use OJD iForms?

There is no fee to use the forms.  Normal circuit court filing fees still apply.

Are iForms Available Now?

Yes – the iForm system is up and running at the Tyler Techology/Odyssey Guide & File site.  Originally iForms were scheduled to launch September 21, 2016.

What Languages Are Supported by iForms?

At this time, OJD iForms are only provided in English. To see forms in other languages, the court directs self-represented filers to visit OJD Forms.  Information about interpreters is provided on the iForms home page.

Are iForms Restricted to Electronic Filing?

No.  Since the forms are designed for self-represented filers (the public), eFiling is voluntary.  Once a form is completed, filers can (depending on the form) either eFile the form or print the form and file it themselves at any Oregon circuit court.

Are iForms Really User Friendly?

Filers must have access to a computer, the ability to download and save a personal copy of the iForm, a credit card (for eFiling), or access to a printer (if filing conventionally).

The interview process follows a straightforward format.  For each case type, the filer is provided with:

  • A statement of purpose or background information about the form.
  • A list of the documents and information the filer will need to complete the form.
  • Identification of the filer’s party status (For example: “If you are filing the request to renew the restraining order, you are the Petitioner; the person you are asking to restrain is the Respondent. This does not change throughout the case.”)

Filers are also told that court staff cannot give legal advice.

A quick readability check of the small claims complaint page reveals a score of 72.9 on the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease Scale.  (Text which scores 60 to 80 is considered easy to read.)

Is Technical Support Available for iForm users?

Before entering an interview, filers can access links to FAQs, a quick reference guide, self-help, and a how-to video from the Tyler Technology Guide & File home page.

Do Filers Receive any Form-Specific Help or Guidance on Next Steps?

Form-specific help is provided once the interview process begins.  A help panel on the right side of the page gives general guidance, information on where to file, etc.

Instructions for next steps are available to download or print at the end of the interview or on the OJD iForms home page.  See the heading “What to do after you file an iForm” on the bottom right.

Can a Filer Start an iForm and Finish it Later?

Yes, but the filer must create a profile first.  The filer’s information is saved in “My Interviews.”

A profile can be created before starting an interview by clicking “Welcome” in the top right corner of the iForms home page.  From the pull-down menu, select “Register.”

Once the filer has started an interview, two prompts appear above the help panel on the right side of the page:  “Sign up to save your work,” and “Already signed up? Log in.”

The Year in Review – Top Posts in 2015

Thank you loyal readers!  As 2015 comes to a close, here is a look back at the year’s top posts:

Working Effectively – Time Management, Staffing

File Management – What to Keep, What Not to Keep

Marketing, Business Development, and the Attorney-Client Relationship

eCourt

Fees – Getting Paid, Finances, Credit Cards, Trust Accounting

Security

Technology – Macs, TECHSHOW, Office 2016, Windows 10, Paperless, and More

Potpourri

[All Rights Reserved 2015 – Beverly Michaelis]