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Bill allowing e-filing service passes House, Senate

March 12, 2019

Attorneys tired of filing services of notice by snail mail are closer to the option of doing so electronically, now that both bodies of the Indiana Legislature have approved a measure that would do so.

Senate Bill 208 would allow an individual to use electronic filing of service instead of certified notices in certain cases if e-filing of service is authorized by rules adopted by the Indiana Supreme Court. Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, informed the House on Monday that the measure would bring conformity to Indiana statutes after the Indiana Supreme Court’s 2015 decision to move pleadings and motions to electronic filing.

“You don’t have to serve by certified mail, you can simply serve electronically also,” Steuerwald said.

During prior discussion on the Senate floor, author Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, described the bill as a lawyerly measure that addressed attorneys’ current requirement to file initial services by certified mail, a method he finds to be obsolete. Young advocated that the bill would save clients’ costs if attorneys were able to file services electronically.

SB 208 previously passed the Senate 46-3, and the bill passed the House on Monday, 93-1.

Rep. Peggy Mayfield, R-Martinsville, said she voted against the measure in an overabundance of caution. As a former clerk, Mayfield said her concerns circled around whether electronic services would extend to pro se litigants through the bill’s language, in addition to attorneys. 

“I don’t want someone going to court for summary judgment because they didn’t read their email,” Mayfield said. “If you’re an attorney that’s one thing, but if you’re a self-represented litigant, that’s different.”

Adding that the notice of service is important to both parties, the representative said she wanted to be certain non-attorneys would continue to receive certified mail services before she voted yes. 

“It’s not even a close vote or a highly controversial topic,” she noted. “I wanted to make sure that the general public in court needs to have more leeway than just the electric notification.” 

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