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2 county court systems get e-filing approval

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Two of Indiana's largest counties are getting close to putting electronic filing plans into place after receiving a green light from the Indiana Supreme Court late last year and early this year for pilot projects.

A key goal of the separate pilot projects in Lake and Marion counties is to push certain cases online and eliminate the paper-based filing method. The aim is to make the court systems more efficient overall. Both are set up to be limited trial projects, but the prediction is that they will help set the tone for all courts someday using a paperless filing system.

In both counties, registered users must sign an agreement and pay fees to use the e-filing and service system. Both counties also offer a way for pro se litigants to use the new system, and opt-out provisions can be used for those not wanting to go paperless at this time.

Under the leadership of Circuit Judge Lorenzo Arredondo and Superior Judges Jeff Dywan and John Pera, the Lake County judiciary first filed a plan in June 2007 targeting e-filing for mortgage foreclosure cases randomly assigned to each court. Delays and amendments pushed the launch date back, and the judiciary submitted a new proposal in June 2009 for the Supreme Court's review. Lake County will use a self-contained system to file and serve documents using its CourtView case management system and through the online docket.

The Supreme Court granted Marion County's proposal submitted last year. It's believed to be the state's first e-filing pilot program targeted initially at foreclosure and collection cases that represent a large chunk of the civil judges' dockets. Thirteen courts will allow for the e-filings. A 91-page project report posted online at http://www.in.gov/judiciary/marion/docs/efiling021910.pdf describes the details of the plan, which is being tweaked locally before it takes effect later this year.

Marion Superior Judge Heather Welch led that initiative, along with some of her colleagues on the bench. She told Indiana Lawyer that this is no different for attorneys and litigants than coming into court to file regular paper documents and putting them into a file by hand. Computer terminals will be set up in the county clerk's office for public access.

LexisNexis is responsible for the electronic filing and serving, and the costs are $35 per collections case and $55 per mortgage foreclosure case, according to the project's pricing sheet. Fees are also included for any offline mail service delivery.

This has been in the works for years, with the county's judiciary and Indianapolis Bar Association exploring the e-filing possibility to tackle the growing number of mortgage and foreclosure cases. In the past few years, the number of those cases has increased steadily, and respectfully represent 50 and 58 percent of the civil judges' dockets, Judge Welch said. Tackling those cases will have the most impact on the overall caseloads, she said.

"The judges and the clerk ... have determined that an electronic filing system would advance efficiency in the Clerk's offices and the courts, and that members of the public and bar would be well served by such a system," the project plan says.

Similar systems have been implemented on a statewide basis in places like Colorado and Delaware, which have implemented either voluntary or mandatory e-filing.

Educational and training seminars for attorney, law firm, and court participants are expected in the coming weeks, according to the schedule. After three months, an E-File Advisory Committee will meet to discuss and document the project's progress. That group will also be responsible for evaluating and assessing the project and potential expansion.

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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