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7th Circuit seeks comment on e-filing rule changes

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is revising its rules to require initial electronic filing of all documents, and the federal appellate court is taking public comment for the next three weeks.

Proposed revisions to Circuit Rule 25 on e-filing and Rule 27 on emergency filings were posted Monday, giving the public until March 25 to review and submit comment about the changes. The Circuit would also strike Rule 31(e), which deals with uploading digital briefs and would no longer be needed under the new rules.

If the rules are adopted by an advisory committee as proposed, the court expects them to take effect May 1. A draft of the Electronic Case Filing (ECF) Procedures can be found on the court’s website at www.ca7.uscourts.gov.

“Many courts are using this e-filing already, so we’re just hopping on the bandwagon,” said Circuit Clerk Gino Agnello in Chicago. “This has been evolving nationally during the past two years and we’re one of the last to do it, because we wanted to make sure all the kinks are out of the system. We were one of the first in the country to make briefs and opinions available electronically and most attorneys have been doing this at the District level already, so our bar is ready to go.”

Rule 25 pertains to all briefs, motions, petitions, and similar documents filed with the court but does not apply to pro se litigants and also allows for parties to request an exemption from the rule. Rule 27 outlines the procedures for emergency filings when the Clerk’s Office is closed.

As far as electronic access to documents, these rule revisions don’t make any practical changes to what attorneys and members of the public will see online, Agnello said. Rather, it will push the court to go paperless and require the initial e-filing. Traditionally, paper filings have been the “official” copies while e-briefs have been the courtesy copy.

Agnello said pinpointing a number of documents this could involve is difficult to assess, because any of the 3,300 to 3,400 new filings a year could entail multiple briefs and documents.

“Whatever the amount, this will reduce the number of paper files we have dramatically,” Agnello said.

Written comments can be submitted to: Advisory Committee, c/o Clerk of Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, 219 South Dearborn St., Chicago, IL 60604. They can also be sent by email to USCA7_Clerk@ca7.uscourts.gov.

Once the start date gets closer, Agnello said the court will likely post training materials online for attorneys and members of the public.

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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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