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]

 

Changes Coming to Oregon eCourt

Two important changes are coming to Oregon eCourt beginning Monday, November 16:

Documents Submitted for Signature by the Court

Beginning November 16, 2015 all circuit courts using the eCourt system will electronically affix the name and title of the individual signing a document below the signature line.

All documents submitted to the court for signature must comply with UTCR 21.040(3):

  • Leave a blank space of not less than 1.5 inches.
  • Create a blank signature line following the last line of text.
  • Do not include a title or name underneath the line.  Specifically, do not add “Circuit Court Judge.”
  • Update your pleading templates to conform to the rule.
  • Follow this example:

10-23-2015 8-39-29 AM

Direct questions to: Daniel Parr, OJD Communication and Outreach Manager at daniel.parr@ojd.state.or.us.

Expansion of Electronic Notifications – Case Management System to Generate Notices of Orders Entered

Beginning Monday, November 16, 2015 all circuit courts using the eCourt system will notify attorneys by email when orders are entered on their cases.

This is a long-awaited improvement to the Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) case management system.  Here are the details shared by OJD:

How does it work?

When the court enters an order in the register of actions, the case management system will generate and email a notice to all attorneys on the case. The email will be sent to the email address where the attorney already receives notices of hearings and trials.

What do I need to do?

No action is required. If you are receiving notifications when hearings and trials are set then beginning November 16, 2015 you will start receiving notices regarding entry of orders. The system will send the email from Court_Notification@ojd.state.or.us. Make sure this email address is whitelisted in your email settings. If you need notifications to be directed to others within your office look into the option of auto-forwarding through your email provider.

Does the email include the signed order?

No, the email will only include a basic court notice form telling you the case number and what order was signed, based on how the order is entered in the register of actions (such as Order – Show Cause). To access the signed order, you will need to either access the case through the Oregon eCourt Case Information (OECI) system over the internet through an online subscription or otherwise go to the courthouse and access the case through a court terminal. More information about subscription services to OECI can be found here.

Will I be notified when other documents are entered into the system?

Not at this time. On November 16 attorneys will only be notified when orders are entered. OJD is evaluating expanding the capacity for similar notifications in the future.

Provided courtesy of Daniel Parr, OJD Communication and Outreach Manager

 

Oregon eCourt and Arbitration

Are Oregon arbitrators required to eFile arbitration awards and judgments? Let me answer that question with another question: were you conventionally filing awards and judgments prior to the implementation of mandatory eCourt?  If your response is yes, then odds are you must eFile.  Let’s step through the analysis with this caveat: please verify the necessity of eFiling with the OJD help desk [see endnote] or your friendly local court clerk.

What do the UTCRs say?

UTCR 13.210(5)
Within 7 days after the conclusion of the arbitration hearing, the arbitrator shall send the award to the parties without filing with the court and shall establish procedures for determining attorney fees and costs.  Result:  In a non-dissolution case, the arbitrator files nothing.  The onus is on the parties.

UTCR 13.210(6)
In dissolution cases, the arbitrator shall send the award to the parties within 7 days after the conclusion of the arbitration hearing and shall direct a party to prepare and submit a form of judgment. The arbitrator, upon request of any party, shall give the parties an opportunity to be heard on the form of judgment. The arbitrator shall then approve a form of judgment and file the award, along with the approved form of judgment, per UTCR 13.220. Result: In a dissolution case, the arbitrator becomes the “filer.”  The rule expressly states the arbitrator shall … “file the award.” If the dissolution case is in a judicial district which has implemented mandatory eCourt, the arbitrator must eFile the award in compliance with UTCR Chapter 21 (text searchable PDF, under maximum file size, etc.)

Are There Any Exceptions to UTCR 13.210(5)?  What about Local Rules?

Ah ha, grasshopper – you have learned well!  The fly in the ointment is exactly that. If the case is in a jurisdiction that has adopted Supplementary Local Rules (most have), you must follow the SLR.  If the SLR requires you, as arbitrator, to file the award or judgment, you’re stuck.  Thus my question above: did you conventionally file awards and judgments prior to the implementation of mandatory eCourt?  If yes, nothing changes except the filing method.  If you are in a jurisdiction that has implemented eCourt, you must eFile. [Double-check with the OJD help desk or your local court clerk if you are unsure.]

A list of jurisdictions with SLRs (including links to the rules) can be found on the PLF website.  Select Practice Management > Forms > Docketing & Calendaring > “State Court Rules – UTCRs and SLRs.”

What is an Example of an SLR that Requires Arbitrators to File Documents?

By imposing conditions for filing awards, Multnomah County SLR 13.085 implies that the responsibility lies with the arbitrator:
(1) The arbitrator shall not file an arbitration award with the court until the issues of attorney fees and costs have been determined. The arbitrator shall certify on the award that no issues of costs or attorney fees remain undecided upon filing of the award. Unless otherwise ordered by the court, no amended or supplemental arbitration award shall be filed, regardless of whether judgment has been entered on the original.
(2) At the conclusion of arbitration, if the arbitrator attempts to file the award with the Court without the proof of service of a copy of the decision and award upon each party as required by ORS 36.425(1), the award will not be filed and will be returned to the arbitrator.

Key Points to Remember

  • If you previously filed awards and judgments with the court, nothing has changed. Filing is still your responsibility. The only difference is how you file, and that will depend on whether the jurisdiction has implemented eCourt.
  • Read the SLRs! At the present time, Multnomah County puts the onus on arbitrators, Washington County does not.
  • Know the UTCRs.  UTCRs govern where SLRS have not been adopted.
  • Communicate with the parties.  If it is the responsibility of the parties to eFile your award or judgment, say so and cite the pertinent UTCRs.

All Rights Reserved [2015] Beverly Michaelis

Oregon Judicial Department Help Desk –
Monday through Friday 7:00 am to 6:00 pm

503-986-5582 or 1-800-922-7391
ETSDHelp@ojd.state.or.us