Are you eCourt Ready?

Clickhere_medFLT_490x250On December 1, 2014, eCourt will become mandatory for the eleven circuit courts that currently have the Oregon eCourt system, including the eFiling requirement.  Follow these steps to get ready for the mandatory transition:

  1. Get a credit or debit card that can be used to pay court fees online.  The Odyssey eFile & Serve System (eCourt) accepts Visa, MasterCard, and Discover.  Learn more about eCourt filing fees here.
  2. Create an eCourt account by registering with Odyssey eFile & ServeDon’t wait, do it now.  If you need assistance setting up your account, it may be difficult to reach Technical Support on the December 1 effective date. Registration is only a few steps.  Choose an account type, enter your name, contact information, and e-mail address, then create a password.  Sole practitioners should register as a “Firm Administrator.”
  3. Check your e-mail inbox for an activation link from Tylerhost.net – the vendor that operates Odyssey eFile & Serve for Oregon.  Click on the activation link to finish creating your account.
  4. Login to Odyssey eFile & Serve with your e-mail address and newly created password, click on the Firm Administrator tab, and set up a payment account (credit card).  [Note: if you are a firm member who created an individual user account this step was completed by your Firm Administrator.]
  5. Check your “tech.” To be an e-filer, lawyers will need a scanner and PDF conversion software with OCR (Optical Character Recognition) capability.  More on this below.
  6. Sign up for one of the free, one-hour training sessions on how to use Odyssey eFile & Serve.  There are three classes this week and additional classes scheduled for December.  See the complete class listing here. During the training you can ask questions.  If desired, take the training more than once.
  7. Watch the Oregon eCourt Update CLE presented on November 19, 2014 – available for Oregon lawyers to stream or download free of charge on the Professional Liability Fund (PLF) website.  This CLE provides an overview of the rules and includes a question and answer session with Oregon Judicial Department staff.
  8. Read Chapter 21 of the Uniform Trial Court Rules – Filing and Service by Electronic Means – and the Chief Justice Orders adopting out-of-cycle amendments.
  9. Get an OJCIN Account (Oregon Judicial Case Information Network).  OJCIN is the official website of Register of Actions and judgment records for the State of Oregon Judicial Department. OJCIN includes OJIN (Oregon Judicial Information Network), OECI (Oregon eCourt Case Information Network), and ACMS (Appellate Case Management System).  If you want to view case activity and access documents online, you must have an OJCIN account. ($35.00 per month.)
  10. Monitor the Oregon State Bar (OSB) and PLF websites.  Using the discussion from the Oregon eCourt Update CLE, OSB staff are preparing answers to frequently asked eCourt questions that will be posted in the near future.  This information will also be accessible on the PLF website.

Buying a Scanner 

Mac users can search for “top rated scanners” at MacWorld. If you have Windows OS, check out the online reviews at PC Magazine.  The Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500 was voted the best scanner of the year in 2013 by MacWorld and comes bundled with Acrobat XI Standard for Windows.  (You can – and should – upgrade to Acrobat XI Pro for a few more bucks.  See below.)

Brother scanners are popular too.  A “combo” machine – combination printer/scanner/copier may also be a good choice depending on your needs.  Check the sources listed above for product reviews.

When you’ve chosen a scanner make and model, use sites or apps like PriceGrabber and Google Shopper to find the best prices. Include shipping costs for the best head-to-head comparison.

PDF Conversion Software with OCR Capability

All documents submitted via the eCourt system must be text searchable PDFs.  PDF conversion software with OCR capability (Optical Character Recognition) turns your scanned documents into text searchable PDFs.  The free Adobe Reader software cannot do this.

For PDF conversion software, nothing beats Adobe Acrobat XI in this author’s opinion.  (Get the “Pro” version for the redaction features.)  While it may seem that you have no choice but to subscribe to Acrobat on a monthly basis, you can still purchase the product outright. Call sales at 800-585-0774 for details.  My two cents:  Buy the subscription.  Adobe is running a 25% off sale through December 3.  A subscription to Acrobat XI Pro is $14.99 per month (normally $19.99).  Subscriptions are locked in for one year and include all upgrades free of charge plus free telephone support.  If you purchase Acrobat XI Pro outright, you must buy the upgrades separately.  Free telephone support ends in 30 days, although other support options remain available.

PrimoPDF and Nuance Power PDF Advanced are worth a look too, but don’t have all the bells and whistles of Acrobat.

Using Your Scanner and PDF Conversion Software with OCR Capability

Use your scanner and PDF/OCR software to:

  • Create searchable PDFs of your pleading documents for eFiling.
  • Create searchable PDFs of attachments to pleading documents (e.g., a scanned copy of a Last Will and Testament attached to a petition for probate – a copy of the Will is eFiled with the petition; the original Will must be filed conventionally).
  • Create searchable PDFs of signature pages or signed documents.  (Text on the page will be searchable; signatures will not.)

Note:  Lawyers sign eCourt documents using a conformed signature: /s/ Lawyer Name.  If you are eFiling a document containing signatures other than your own, you must scan the signature page or the entire document.

Master the Tech and Make Your Life Easier

  • If you aren’t already using a version of Word, WordPerfect, or OpenOffice with built-in PDF conversion, upgrade now.
  • When you convert to PDF directly from within Word, WordPerfect, or OpenOffice your document is automatically text searchable.  No need to scan.
  • Always choose File > Print > to create a PDF from your word processing program.  Select File > Print, find the PDF printer in your printer list (Adobe PDF for example), click Print, give your document a name, and save it in the desired location.  When you create a PDF by selecting File > Save As > PDF or File > Publish to PDF, you are converting all the metadata in your document.  Additionally, files that are “published” to PDF are about 80% larger than documents that are “printed” to PDF.
  • Digital pleading templates are the way to go.  If you are printing the body of your document on numbered pleading paper, you will need to scan and OCR your documents for eFiling.  If you aren’t familiar with digital pleading templates, check out these options from Microsoft.  [Note: conform all templates to meet Oregon court rules.]

Troubleshooting

Don’t struggle on your own!  Call Odyssey eFile & Serve free technical support at 1.800.297.5377, Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Central Time.  Tech support can help with the following issues:

  • Browser error messages
  • Registering with Odyssey eFile & Serve
  • Setting up payment accounts / payment account troubleshooting
  • How to initiate a filing
  • How to file a document into an existing case
  • How to eServe parties

Use the Knowledge Base

You can find quite a bit of useful information in the Odyssey eFile & Serve Knowledge Base, which is divided into these categories: Administration, Court Contact, eFiling, eService, Notifications, and Support and Training.

Under Administration, learn about attorney management, fees, firm information, passwords, payment accounts, reconciliation, registration, and user management.  Under Court Contact find telephone numbers and other contact information for Multnomah, Yamhill, Crook, and Clatsop County Circuit Courts.  eFiling provides information on the active locations for eCourt, describes the filing process, document status, and how to create templates in the eFiling workspace.  Under eService read answers to commonly asked questions, such as where do I find proof of service for a filing I submitted?  (Also see Notifications.)  Access the Knowledge Base here.  Look for this sidebar on the left side of your screen:

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[All Rights Reserved – 2014 – Beverly Michaelis]

 

 

Oregon eCourt: One Step Closer to Reality?

For those who have not been attentive to the goings on at the Oregon Judicial Department (OJD), implementation of statewide eCourt may seem more like a dream than a reality.  But truth be told, real progress is happening.

One huge step forward?  The selection earlier this year of Tyler’s Odyssey® Court Management System, as a single-solution provider:

“The contract between Tyler and the State of Oregon is valued at approximately $31 million, which includes software and implementation. The new agreement positions Odyssey to become a foundation of Oregon’s eCourt program by delivering deep functionality from Odyssey modules, including Case Management, Financial Management, Enterprise Content Management and eFiling. In addition, Odyssey will provide Oregon courts with ePayments, a decision support system, a statewide jury management system, an integration framework that enables electronic communication and exchange of information between Odyssey and existing justice partner information systems, and a unified Web portal to further enhance court access for the public and the legal community.”

Read the complete Tyler Technologies press release here.

What is Oregon eCourt?

When fully operational, Oregon eCourt will serve as a 24/7 web-based courthouse permitting online access to documents and case records, court information and court calendars, case-related filing and payment services, multilingual guides, online forms, and online self-help – based on individual user authorization.

How Will We Get There and Where are We Now?

Odyssey will clearly play a big role in the future development of Oregon eCourt.  As we look forward to the next five years, give credit to the hard work already done:

  • August 2008 – efiling begins in the Oregon Supreme Court for all Oregon State Bar members.
  • January 2009 – efiling begins in the Oregon Court of Appeals.
  • August 2009 – electronic content management begins on a modest scale in Yamhill County.
  • August 2009 – Oregon’s 40 (separate and previously unequal) Judicial Department Web sites are finally in sync — each conforming to the same format and navigation design for easier use.
  • September 2009 – June 2010 – additional Circuit Courts dip their toes into electronic case management.
  • January-February 2011 – Tyler Technologies is selected as a single-solution provider to complete Oregon eCourt in three phases over the next five years.
  • April 2011 – the best development to date:  the OJD launches a new Web site with much-improved navigation, links, and content.

The new user-friendly OJD Web site features:

Not sure what to choose?  Click on one of these icons:

Or choose How do I?

You can keep up with Oregon eCourt developments here, read about the technology, keep tabs on the latest projects, get answers to frequently asked questions,  or check out the latest statistics.  (Over 2,400 documents were efiled in the Oregon Supreme Court and Oregon Court of Appeals in January 2011.)

I am thrilled to see this progress and look forward to the future successes of Oregon eCourt.

Copyright 2011 Beverly Michaelis