November 10, 2010

Is electronic filing on the horizon?

As noted by the Southern California Appellate News, the Second District Court of Appeal recently became the first California appellate court to allow the electronic filing of briefs via a portal on its website. See the Second District’s news release. Given the inevitable advance of technology, this prompted us to wonder whether the California Supreme Court will one day permit electronic filing. There are some promising signs that electronic filing is in the cards for the Supreme Court.

For one thing, rule 8.212(c)(2)(A) of the California Rules of Court, which requires that appellate briefs be served on the Supreme Court, provides that such service may be effected on the Court electronically. (In fact, under the Second District’s system, service on the Supreme Court will be automatic when you electronically file a brief in a civil case.) The fact that the Court is willing to accept service in this manner is an important sign that it is open to receiving and cataloging briefs electronically.

Just as importantly, other courts are already blazing the path toward a world where electronic filing is the norm. It is well known, of course, that electronic filing of briefs is mandatory in the Ninth Circuit under Circuit Rule 25-5(a). Probably less well-known in California are the strides being made at the state level in Arizona, where Division Two of the Court of Appeals “continue[s] to permit, and strongly encourages” electronic filing. That court’s website states that it is now engaged in a pilot project with the Arizona Supreme Court to allow the electronic filing of petitions for review. As the Arizona Supreme Court states in its administrative order, “This pilot project . . . will further the courts’ goal of moving toward efiling in all case types.”

Given the trend toward electronic filing in the Court of Appeal, the federal courts and other states’ courts, and given the California Supreme Court’s own willingness to handle briefs in electronic format, the electronic filing of briefs in the Supreme Court may be closer than we think.

One Response to “Is electronic filing on the horizon?”

  1. I think this is long overdue. Decisions have been available electronically for nearly two decades. Briefs should also be accessible online.

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