Friday, June 10, 2016

New E-Filing rules effective July 1 - Some Highlights.

On July 1, A new version of Trial Rule 86 will become effective and e-filling for all filings on existing cases will become mandatory in the Hamilton County and Appellate Courts  (You aren't required to initiate cases via e-filing yet.)

The significant changes to Trial Rule 86 focus on the process of service during electronic case initiation.

Currently (until June 30) you must provide a set of paper documents to the clerk within 3 days of initiating a case by filing the dame documents electronically. This allows the clerk to file stamp them and service then occurs in the traditional manner using those paper documents.

Beginning on July 1, when you initiate a case electronically, the clerk will accept the filing documents, create the case, and return a file-stamped copy of the summons(es) to you electronically. You are then responsible for printing those documents, completing service and certifying to the court that service has occurred.

When you create the summons(es), you must specify the intended method of service in each document. [86(G)(2)(a)], You may then use the file-stamped copy to provide service to all required parties using any appropriate method that complies with the rules found in Trial Rule 4.

Following service, the filer must provide the clerk with a Certificate of Issuance of Summons that includes the details of how each document was served:
  • For documents served via mail, provide the date of mailing, address of each party, and tracking number if using a return receipt service. [86(G)(2)(c)]
  • For documents served in person or via first class mail, If the respondent is cooperative, have her/him sign an Acknowledgement of Service. If the respondent refuses to sign, file an Affidavit of Service. [86(G)(2)(d)(ii)]
  • For documents served by leaving a copy at a residence, file an Affidavit of Service. [86(G)(2)(d)(iii)]
  • For documents served via sheriff or other government process server, file the Return of Service. [86(G)(2)(d)(iv)]
  • For documents served by publication, in addition to noting on the original summons that the method of service is publication, you must also attach an Affidavit for Service by Publication. Instruct the publisher to send the return to the clerk after the publication period has ended.
Of course, all of these certification documents should be filed electronically.

In addition to the changes related to initiating a new case and serving process, there are three pages that clarify minor issues and fill in a few blanks. These are the sort of changes that are more incremental than fundamental, but needed to be in writing.

A few less important clarifications are:

  • If you file a document with the wrong fees or for a nonexistent case number on a subsequent filing, it will be rejected and you have 72 working hours to correct the problem in order to have the filing considered submitted on the initial submission date. (Those two issues should never be a problem if you are using a reliable EFSP, because we fill in both values for you. This rule needs to exist, but in practice should never come into play.)
  • It is possible to make other mistakes that don't result in rejection, but need to be fixed. For instance, you might accidentally file the document on the wrong case. In that situation, the court will issue an order striking the document or allowing you to fix the problem and may (not will) give you 72 hours to cure the defect. (Subtext: unintentional errors can be fixed, but don't make a habit of being sloppy and don't try to game the system.)
  • If you decide to exclude a document or portion of a document from public access on an otherwise public case, you've got to point to the reason. You may do this by filing a notice of exclusion from public access as the lead document or, if the lead document is a redacted version, by clearly marking the areas where information is omitted and specifying the reason.
  • In situations where both a redacted (public) version and a confidential version are submitted, use a placeholder of equivalent length to replace the confidential information so the page numbering and other formatting is consistent on both versions.
  • Obviously, green paper is not an option for electronically filed documents. Less obviously, the replacement is to apply a header, stamp or label clearly stating "Confidential per AR9(G)" or "Excluded from Public Access per AR9(G)". Make sure the addition of that header doesn't make your page numbering inconsistent with the public version. 




Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Tippecanoe County Court Information will become available on Doxpop in early July

Tippecanoe County has completed a conversion from the CourtView case management system to the Odyssey system.

This means their public court information will become available on Doxpop in early July.

Currently, we are receiving new and updated cases from Tippecanoe, so you may see some cases begin to appear in your search results, but please be aware that dormant or "historical" cases will not become available until July. Folks doing checks for prior cases should not depend on Doxpop to have complete data from Tippecanoe until we announce the complete data load on this blog.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Doxpop's E-Filing system does not yet support filings on confidential cases. Here's why:

Recently the State Court Administration began allowing electronic filing on confidential cases through their system.

At least one eager Doxpop user tried to use our system for filing on confidential cases and was disappointed because our system doesn't support this function yet. We're sorry to dissappoint, and our users deserve an explanation when that happens.

In general, Doxpop tries to keep pace with the State Court on introducing new features, but in this situation, we are holding back because the rules have not been clearly communicated to EFSPs yet, and in one situation, the rules we are aware of create a conflict.

Because of the sensitivity of confidential cases, we will not offer this particular electronic filing feature until the rules are clear and without conflict.

Specifically, here are the outstanding questions we have so far:

1) How to identify existing confidential cases. We believe that any case where the caption has been replaced by the string '**Confidential**' is certainly confidential, but we have not yet received an answer to the question "If we don't see this string, are we safe in treating the case as public?"

2) What is the list of all case types designated as confidential? We believe based on experience that the complete list is MH, AD, JC, JD, JS, JT, JM and PO (With PO details being hidden in this context due to Federal law rather than State Court rule.) However, we haven't been able to locate a definitive list in Administrative Rule 9 or elsewhere, and we really need this in writing in order to proceed with confidence.

3) In addition to cases designated confidential due to their type, some cases of types that are typically public may be closed by order of the court. If an electronic filer is initiating a case in which the first action is to seek a confidential designation, how does the filer, through the EFSP, indicate to the clerk that details other than the filed documents must also be kept confidential pending the court's ruling?

4) When filing a document, every filer is required to designate the filing party. Since the names of all parties are hidden for confidential cases, the filer has no way of supplying this required information if more than one party has the same role. (For instance, if there are two petitioners- without names, how does the filer indicate which petitioner is doing the filing?)

As soon as we obtain clear answers to these questions, Doxpop will move to quickly provide this feature for our subscribers. In the meantime, please be patient with us as we exercise due diligence.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Oversized document fee rules changed. Let us know if you still have problems.

A couple of months ago, Doxpop started charging a $2 per page "pass-through" copy fee for oversized documents. (See below for what "pass-through" means)

This resulted in some complaints. We listened to them carefully and found that we agreed with many of the complaints, so with the assent of the Recorders, we have changed our approach to collecting oversized document fees. Here is the new rule:

  • For any document type except plat/survey, we only charge the oversized fee if the document was filed after 1/1/2004 and is larger than 10 X 16-1/2 inches. The date limit elminates documents that were scanned with older equipment that inflates the size, and the size limit allows plenty of margin beyond "legal size".
  • Any plats that exceed 10 X 16-1/2 inches will incur the oversized fee regardless of age.



More detail  on what "pass-through" means if you're interested: 

In the process of dealing with concerns about the copy fees, we learned that many Doxpop users don't understand that Doxpop doesn't keep this money. (If we did, we'd be rich!) Here's how copy fees work:

  • Every Indiana County Recorder's Office is required by state law to charge a copy fee of $1/page for documents legal size (8-1/2 X 14) and smaller. For larger documents, they must charge $2/page.
  • This fee is important because it funds a large part of the Recorder's Office. Without this revenue, taxes would increase.
  • Because Doxpop makes copies available to you online, Doxpop pays the recorders the same amount you would pay if you went to their office to obtain the document. This ensures that the taxpayers don't end up paying higher taxes to replace lost revenue due to the online service.

With two exceptions, Doxpop receives no revenue from the copy fees we charge. The two exceptions are:
  • The account level where Doxpop provides six searches per month at no cost. For these accounts, we charge $1 per page extra, because at these levels we have to cover significant credit card processing fees and support costs but have no income from search fees,
  • The lower volume paid accounts, where Doxpop charges less than $60/month in search fees. At these levels, we charge $0.35/page extra. In this situation, we still have to cover significant credit card fees and support costs, but the search fees help defray these expenses.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Delaware County converts to Odyssey. Doxpop users not affected by this change.

Over the last weekend, the Delaware County Courts converted to the Odyssey case tracking system, thus moving their data storage and administration to Indianapolis. 

This move does not significantly affect Doxpop users because Doxpop buys access from the State Court Administration to a real-time feed of court data from the Odyssey system. Our customers' access to court information will not be interrupted during this transition.

A few of the services we provide will look odd during the transition because there will be a short period when both the old data and the new data are available. In particular:
  • If you use the personal calendar feature to keep track of hearings connected to your Bar ID, you will see two colors for each County on your calendar. Every event will be available, but the older cases will have a different color from the newer cases. When we complete the merge process, these will go back to being a single color.
  • When you look at our "County Details Page", you will find two entries for each court until the merge is complete.
  • When you are doing searches, you will find two entries for some cases. This is because while we are loading the information from Odyssey, we will also be maintaining the old data until the operation is complete to ensure you don't miss anything. When you see two case entries, please look at both to ensure you have the most current information.
  • If you use any of our "watch" services to keep an eye on cases or people of interest, we will be moving those watches over so they point to the cases and people that are a part of the Odyssey data feed. We run a process to convert these twice each day, but it is possible for notification of events to slip through the cracks between conversion runs so you may want to periodically do a manual check between now and the second week of February, after that, we'll be back to normal.
Finally, one deficiency in the Odyssey system is that financial information is not exported in their data feed, so that detail will not be available after the transition. We regularly ask that the Court Administration add this to the data feed, but so far, we are told that it is not allowed because the clerks using the Odyssey system have requested that they not make that information available to us. If this information is important to you, please encourage the clerks you work with to tell the State Court Administration differently so we can get the information back online.

As always, we are available to answer any questions in person, so don't hesitate to call support at 866-369-7671 if you have any questions.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Benton County Joins the Family of Doxpop Recorders. Welcome!

This week, Doxpop is welcoming Jane Turner and her staff to the growing family of Recorders who make their documents available through Doxpop.

Benton County is our new record-holder for the most complete on-line index! Jane and her staff have complete indexes and images for all documents available through August 1970, providing the ability to look back 45 years. In addition, deed records are available as far back as 1944. That's an impressive achievement that few other Recorder's offices can match.

Document searching and image preview are available at no cost to low-volume users. Commercial users may subscribe to obtain higher search volumes. A copy fee is charged for full-sized reproductions of the documents.

In addition, The Recorder's Office now offers a free property watch service to the Benton County Community. Any person may sign up at http://watch.doxpop.com to set a watch on his or her property and name. Participants are notified via email immediately if a document is filed that references the watched property or name.

Both of these services have been provided without any use of public funding (no use of tax money.) The access provided by these services is in addition to the public access already provided at the courthouse.

Benton County is the 39th County Recorder's office to partner with Doxpop for public access. In addition to Recorded Documents, Doxpop also provides public access to Court Case Information in Benton County and 87 other counties.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Enjoying a bit of history in Corydon while preparing for the future.

Yesterday, Paula and Nick from Doxpop ventured South to Corydon to speak to local attorneys and their staff about e-filing.

Of course, we couldn't leave Corydon without walking over to the old Capitol, which is on the South lawn outside the current courthouse. We interrupted Denzil McKim, who was painting and cleaning in preparation for the bicentennial. He was kind enough to pause in his work to let us look around and answer questions.


If we were looking from this angle two hundred years ago, the view would be obscured by the "Consitutional Elm". Legend has it that during the hot days of summer, the representatives would move their debates outside to enjoy the shade of this tree.


A little piece of the tree still exists and sits under its picture inside.


The desks that the Representatives and Senators used are reminiscent of old school desks, with room to write and keep notes. Denzil added the interesting fact that until 1952, Indiana schools taught everyone to write with their right hand, so in a mild form of intolerance, there are no left-handed desks in this building. 


Presumably, this is where the Grand Poobah sat.  The governor's office was in his house, so this would be for the leader of the House or Senate. In 1816, there were 29 Representatives, 10 Senators, and 3 Justices that used this building for their meetings.


In the early 1800's, you had to have at least 60,000 people to join the club, so it was this 1815 census that allowed Indiana to make the move from a Territory to a State. If you squint closely at the top entry, it says "Wain" County contributed 6,406 souls to that count. Doxpop is located in Wayne County, and we currently account for 14 of the people there.

If you look closely, you'll see that at first, the addition was done wrong and because it was in ink, Dennis Pennington's error is preserved for posterity. Dennis Pennington was a leader in early Indiana politics, notable among other things for the strong anti-slavery stance he took during the drafting of the constitution. 



Back in the modern world, we found this monument to former governor Frank O'Bannon on the Southwest corner of the block. From this statue, you can still see the newspaper his family owns and still operates.




Of course, the reason we were here was also a bit more modern. Doxpop was giving a presentation on our e-filing solution for attorneys to a group of attorneys and their staff at the Harrison County Courthouse on the North end of the lawn.


And finally... no travelogue would be complete without a restaurant recommendation. Although we didn't have time to eat there this time, a stroll one block further South will bring you to the Point Blank Brewery, which has great pizza (and presumably, beer.) If you decide to spend an afternoon in Corydon, you can easily walk to all of these places, and walking is the appropriate way to soak in history.