Doxpop - Tools for Attorneys and Public Information Researchers: Appellate court e-filing becomes mandatory on September 1st.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Appellate court e-filing becomes mandatory on September 1st.

On September 1, a change to the appellate rules will require that appeals be initiated via e-filing. We’ve posted several times, each focusing on one aspect of appellate filings. This post is intended to consolidate our previous advice into one resource.

The Basics:
Filing a Notice of Appeal is simple and not all that different from filing in the trial courts. The main differences are how you prepare your document, how fees are assessed and having the ability to attach any number of service contacts on your initial filing to comply with the multiple service requirements in rule 24(A)(1).

Preparing your Notice of Appeal:
When you are assembling a Notice of Appeal or Motion for Interlocutory Appeal, there are several documents that should be combined into a single PDF file to initiate the appeal. They are:

  1. The Notice of Appeal or Motion for Interlocutory Appeal.
  2. A copy of the judgment or order being appealed.
  3. If you are a public defender, your proof of appointment.
  4. If this is an interlocutory appeal, a copy of the order accepting jurisdiction.
  5. Any other required documents.

Number 5 sounds a bit open-ended, but the underlying concept here is simply that every document that you would be required to file when initiating the appeal conventionally should be combined into a single PDF file when e-filing. This will then be filed as a single lead document. This differs significantly from the process for trial courts, where each document must be a separate PDF file.

From a practical standpoint, this means that if you don't already have software for editing PDF files, it's time to purchase something so you can assemble documents from multiple sources into a single PDF file. We've been working with attorneys who are assembling PDF files for a couple of years now, and here are the PDF editors we've heard good things about:

How fees are shown when you start your filing:
Fees are assigned based on the type of document you are filing instead of the case type. So the fee next to the case type will always show $0 but when you select your filing type when adding the document you will now see the fee associated with the Notice of Appeal filing type. This document-based approach to fee calculation applies to the Court of Appeals, Supreme Court and Tax Court case types. For the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court the fee for a Notice of Appeal is currently $250. For the Tax Court, the fee for filing an Original Tax Appeal is $120.

Guidance on how to handle electronic service when filing an appeal:
When you use the Doxpop system for initiating trial court cases, we limit you to attaching one service contact during that process. However, when initiating an appellate case, you may attach any number of service contacts in order to comply with the appellate rules.

The list of the people/organizations you must serve when initiating an appeal has not changed, and can be found in the Appellate Rule 24. What has changed with e-filing is that you can now serve some of these people or organizations electronically by attaching them to the case when you file the notice of appeal.

When filing a Notice of Appeal, here are some of the people or organizations you may need to serve, and methods of attaching them when it is possible:

  • For represented parties, you will be able to find their counsel using the public service directory and attach them for e-service.
  • You will need to be sure that if required, the parties themselves are notified conventionally, as they will not have public service contacts.
  • The Judge, Clerk and Court Reporter on the original trial court case do not have public service contacts, so these three people will need to be served conventionally. (This also holds true for judges and hearing officers in connection with cases coming from administrative courts.)
  • If the case is criminal, you will always be able to serve the prosecuting attorney via e-service, using the public service contact for the attorney that most recently entered an appearance on behalf of the State. (This may not always be the current prosecuting attorney.)
  • If the case is criminal, you will also be required to serve the Attorney General. To accomplish this, you can attach the public service contact of the currently serving Attorney General. eg: Curtis Hill.
  • For expedited appeals involving children, you have a longer list found in Appellate Rule 14.1. You may find that some of those can be notified via e-service. For instance, county commissioners may have currently retained counsel that will appear on the public service contact list. Some attorneys also serve as a CASA or guardian ad litem and thus may have public service contacts. However, most of the service in this type of appeal will have to be done conventionally.

When you put together your certificate of service, for anyone whose service contact was attached at the time of filing the notice of appeal, note that they were served via "IEFS" with the date of filing.

On rare occasions, an email problem may prevent e-service from occurring, so remember to keep an eye out for any service failure notices, which will arrive via email.

Here's a look at what this section of the filing screen for a Notice of Appeal looks like:

The actual order:
On July 26, an order amending the rules for appellate procedure effective September 1, 2018 was filed.

The quick summary is that previously, the words "conventionally", and in two places "electronically" were used to specify the method of filing the documents initiating an appeal. Those modifiers have now been removed so this section no longer specifies any exception from the general rules for filing.

Rule 68(C)(1) says "Unless otherwise permitted by these rules, all documents submitted for filing in the Indiana Supreme Court or Court of Appeals by an attorney must be filed electronically using the IEFS." (Bolding added by this blogger.)

Have Questions?
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