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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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  1. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  2. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

  4. When I hear 'Juvenile Lawyer' I think of an attorney helping a high school aged kid through the court system for a poor decision; like smashing mailboxes. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the bigger picture of the need for juvenile attorneys. It made me sad, but also fascinated, when it was explained, in the sixth paragraph, that parents making poor decisions (such as drug abuse) can cause situations where children need legal representation and aid from a lawyer.

  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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