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. 




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