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.”

 

 

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

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]

 

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:

2014-11-22_20-30-06

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[All Rights Reserved – 2014 – Beverly Michaelis]

 

 

Oregon eCourt: eFiling UTCRs Amended

On September 29, 2014, the following Uniform Trial Court Rules (UTCRs) were amended out-of-cycle pursuant to Chief Justice Order 14-049: UTCR 21.040, 21.050, 21.070, 21.080, 21.090, 21.100, and 21.120.  The changes are summarized below:

UTCR 21.040(2)

Simplifying the rules for filing documents:

“When a document to be electronically filed includes one or more attachments, including but not limited to a documentary exhibit, an affidavit, or a declaration, the electronic filing must be submitted as a unified single PDF file, rather than as a separate electronically filed documents, to the extent practicable. An electronic filing submitted under this section that exceeds 25 megabytes must comply with subsection (1) of this rule.” Also see UTCR 21.040(2)(c).

[Former UTCR 21.040(2) described a complex filing scheme with different rules for specific types of documents: motions to strike, motions for leave to amend, attachments to a petition for post-conviction relief, attachments to a Uniform Support Declaration.  Under revised UTCR 21.040(2) all filings are unified by default.  Over-size files must still be split.  Stand-alone affidavits or declarations are filed separately.  Otherwise, if they are attachments to another document, the entire document – along with its attachments – is filed as one unified PDF.]

UTCR 21.040(2)(a) and UTCR 21.040(3)

Adding new requirements regarding submission of electronic filings requiring court signature:

  • Orders, judgments, or other documents requiring court signature must be submitted separately from motions.
  • Filers must include appropriate information in the filing comments field for each submission. For example: “Motion for Summary Judgment” and “Proposed Order Granting Motion for Summary Judgment.”
  • Any electronically submitted document that requires a court signature must include a blank space “of not less than 1.5 inches and a blank line following the last line of text” to permit the court to affix a signature and signature date.

UTCR 21.040(2)(b)

Adding new requirements regarding submission of electronic filings that include confidential attachments:

  • If an electronic filing is not confidential but includes an attachment that is confidential (or exempt from disclosure), submit the attachment separately.
  • Filers submitting a confidential attachment must select the “confidential check box” after attaching the confidential document.
  • Filers must include appropriate information in the filing comments field for each submission. For example: “Motion for Stay” and “Confidential Attachment to Motion for Stay.”

UTCR 21.040(2)(c)

Clarifying requirements for filing affidavits and declarations:

  • Documents that include affidavits and declarations as attachments must be submitted as a unified single PDF under UTCR 21.040(2).
  • Affidavits and Declarations that are stand-alone documents (not an attachment to another document) are filed separately.

UTCR 21.070(3)(d)

Clarifying that motions for remedial contempt must be conventionally filed because they are created as new “criminal-base-type” cases in the eFiling system.

UTCR 21.070(3)(g) [Removed]

Permitting eFiling of amended pleadings that require payment of an additional filing fee.  Former UTCR 21.070(3)(g) required conventional filing of such documents. Also see UTCR 21.050(1) above.

UTCR 21.070(3)(l)

Adds petitions or motions for waiver of the mandatory eFiling requirement to the list of  documents that must be filed conventionally.

UTCR 21.070(3)(m)

Adds stipulated or ex parte matters listed in SLR 2.501 to the list of documents that must be filed conventionally. See Adoption of Oregon eCourt SLR Chapter 24 below.

UTCR 21.080(6)

Adds a new provision permitting relation-back of filings due to system unavailability, errors in transmission, or other technical problems that prevent the eFiling system from receiving a document.

UTCR 21.090 and 21.100

Housekeeping changes only, updating references to “subsections and “sections” for consistency throughout UTCR Chapter 21.

UTCR 21.120

Reducing the retention period of documents that contain the original signature of a person other than the filer from 10 years to 30 days.

Adoption of Oregon eCourt SLR Chapter 24

As part of going live with Oregon eCourt, a judicial district adopts uniform “Oregon eCourt” SLR Chapter 24. As a companion to new UTCR 21.070(3)(m), each court’s SLR Chapter 24 – 24.501 – will be updated to permit courts to adopt an SLR (2.501) that lists certain stipulated/ex parte matters that must be presented conventionally in that court, instead of eFiled. The SLR update will be part of the SLR chapter for Josephine, Marion, and Douglas Counties when they roll out Oregon eCourt in December 2014, and otherwise in the existing eCourt counties as they do the annual adoption of their SLRs. It provides as follows:

24.501 STIPULATED OR EX PARTE MATTERS MAY BE ELECTRONICALLY FILED

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this rule, any stipulated or ex parte matter may be electronically filed for purposes of submitting to a judge for signature.

(2) SLR 2.501 is reserved for judicial districts to adopt a local rule regarding specific stipulated or ex parte matters for which the documents must be presented conventionally and may not be electronically filed.

[All Rights Reserved 2014 Beverly Michaelis]