Editor’s Note: what most people do not realize is that lawyers have to follow a lot of rules set forth by various courts just to get their legal papers filed correctly. Over the years, court clerks would “reject” filings if the papers were not “blue-backed,” or “two hole punched correctly,” utilized the “wrong font,” or for a host of other reasons. The rules differed “court to court” so if you didn’t do your homework and check those local rules, you were in for a surprise if something did not get filed on “the last possible day.” Well, things are better in the “electronic” filing of today, but not every court here in California or across the USA is set up for electronic filing.
So our local Central District of California issued some new Civil and Criminal filing rules which become effective June 1, 2012. We print them out (sorry paper-less folks), study them, and put them in our notebook and use them as guides. Here’s some of the highlights, just for fun. BTW — if you can get through this process with being somewhat bored, or moderately bored, or completely bored, you’re destined to be a lawyer. The good news is once you master those rules, you’re a winner, and at the finish line, ready for the next rules change, . . .
* “Case Initiation Documents” must be filed in paper format and be emailed by end of next business day in PDF format to civil intake or attorney may be sanctioned [by definition, the Court can sanction an attorney, i.e., make them pay $ or worse, for the failure to follow the rules].
Local Rule 3-2 as amended defines the types of Case and Claim Initiating Documents (e.g. complaints, notices of removal, third-party complaints, amended complaints, complaints in intervention, counterclaims and crossclaims) that are to be filed in paper format rather than electronically and specifies that any emergency-relief documents that would be filed simultaneously with case initiating documents must also be filed in paper format.
Rule 3-2 also requires that Case and Claim Initiating Documents and any simultaneously filed emergency-relief documents must be emailed in PDF format to the civil intake e-mail box for the appropriate court division to which the case is assigned (email addresses located on court’s CM/ECF Website) by close of business the following day or attorneys “shall be subject to such sanctions as may be imposed by the Court.” [Ed. looks like it’s a foregone conclusion]
* Local Rule 5 regarding filing and service of pleadings and other papers has been completely revamped to codify much of the requirements from General Order 10-07:
Local Rule 5 defines precisely the types of documents that must be electronically filed and lodged and those categories that are exempt. For example, documents that would be exempt from electronic filing include documents that are filed by pro se litigants, tangible exhibits or paper exhibits of unusually large size, claim-initiating documents, under-seal and in-camera documents, and records for bankruptcy appeals and administrative review cases.
It also delineates how service should be made of documents that are electronically filed and those that are not. Where a document is electronically filed and all parties consent to electronic service the “Notice of Electronic Filing” automatically generated by the CM/ECF System and emailed to all such attorneys constitutes service pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Where a document is not electronically filed or attorneys have not consented to electronic service, a traditional proof of service must be utilized which declares the day and manner of service, each person or entity served, the title of each document served, and method of service employed.
The amended rule sets forth the technical and other formatting requirements for electronically filed and lodged documents, including formatting requirements for submission of word-processing versions of proposed orders and mandatory chamber copies of such documents. For example, all documents electronically filed must be submitted in PDF, and the PDF must be created using word-processing software, then published to PDF from the original word-processing file. In other words, the amended rule provides that with minor exception “PDF images created by scanning paper documents are prohibited.”-
Rule 5 also clarifies deadlines and timeliness for electronic filings. For example, the amended rule provides that all electronic transmissions of documents must be completed prior to midnight Pacific Standard Time or Pacific Daylight Time, whichever is in effect at that time, in order to be considered timely filed on that day. The rule further sets forth a step-by-step procedure to be followed in the event of a technical failure whereby a filer is unable to electronically file the document. The rule requires that the filer must immediately call or email CM/ECF Help Desk, then proceed to attempt to file the document electronically at least two times separated by at least one hour. If the filer is still unable to electronically file the document, it will be accepted for filing in paper format that same day, if time permits. However, if the delay of being unable to file the document electronically causes the document to be untimely, the filing shall be accompanied by a declaration or affidavit that sets forth the facts of the CM/ECF User’s failed attempts to file electronically, together with an application for leave to file that document.
It specifies when electronic filings are deemed effective. For example, the rule provides that any order or other court-issued document filed electronically without the original signature of the judge or clerk has the same force and effect as if the judge or clerk had signed a paper copy of the order.
Finally, Rule 5 delineates redaction requirements. The amended rule requires that the parties shall carefully examine the documents, exhibits, or attachments to be filed with the court in order to protect any sensitive and private information and that the responsibility for redacting or placing under seal protected personal data identifiers rests solely with counsel and the parties. Significantly, the rule states that “Counsel and the parties are cautioned that failure to redact or place under seal protected personal data identifiers may subject them to the disciplinary power of the Court.”