By: Denise M. Champagne//November 10, 2014
By: Denise M. Champagne//November 10, 2014//
Another element of electronic filing is being added to civil courts in two Seventh Judicial District counties with more expected to follow.
On Monday, Livingston and Ontario counties began offering voluntary e-filing of documents in all civil cases in Supreme Court with the exception of mental hygiene issues, which have confidentiality considerations.
They are the first two of the eight counties in the district to move into Supreme Court with electronic filing, which is mandatory in Surrogate’s Courts throughout the district.
“Livingston was very aggressive in wanting to be the first to set this up,” said Supreme Court Justice Matthew A. Rosenbaum, supervising judge of Supreme Courts, civil parts. “We very much appreciate when any county wants to take a leadership role.”
He credited Livingston County Clerk James A. Culbertson and Deputy Clerk Mary Strickland, as well as Ontario County Clerk Michael J. Hose, for their work in preparing their respective counties, in cooperation with the state Office of Court Administration.
Justice Rosenbaum noted Wayne County Clerk Michael Jankowski is moving forward and expected to offer the same types of e-filing there within three to six months.
“Livingston County made it look easy,” Justice Rosenbaum said. “They worked seamlessly with OCA.”
E-filing allows attorneys and authorized staff members to file and access court documents 24/7 from any computer once they register with the New York State Courts Electronic Filing System, often referred to as NYSCEF.
The respective courts are notified when documents have been filed and court personnel can access and transfer copies to their own systems. Fees may also be paid online with credit cards.
“It’s a huge benefit in many ways,” said Justice Rosenbaum.
Besides convenience, e-filing saves, paper, space and postage costs. It makes it easier for attorneys to file and retrieve documents anytime from anywhere without having to go to the courthouse or clerk’s office and can even be done when those offices are closed.
Training was offered last month in Ontario and Livingston counties, according to Sarah T. Sennett, deputy chief clerk in Monroe County Surrogate’s Court who has been working on various e-filing implementations since 2010. Working with her is Lisa L. Preston, deputy chief clerk in Supreme and County courts. More training sessions will also be scheduled.
Sennett said people who are already registered on the NYSCEF system will not have to register for the additional filing categories.
She said the Supreme Courts in Ontario and Wayne counties average about 60 new civil filings a month; 40 in Livingston. Sennett said there are 17 Supreme Courts across the state where e-filing is authorized either on a mandatory or consensual basis. The additions of Livingston and Ontario counties will bring the total to 19.
Justice Rosenbaum said discussions are under way in Steuben County and talks will begin soon with Cayuga County. He said Monroe County, because of its size, is more challenging.
District Executive Ronald W. Pawelczak said the model is to start courts on a consensual basis and eventually have all of them mandatorily filing,
“All of this is done collaboratively,” he said. “We look to the county clerks to be cooperative.”
The Seventh Judicial District was the first in the state to have mandatory e-filing in Surrogate’s Courts in May 2013, but those documents are managed by their own court clerks while the county clerk is the clerk of Supreme and County courts, responsible for maintaining those records.
Justice Rosenbaum said Monroe County Clerk Cheryl Dinolfo has been working with the OCA to link its system with hers, but there have been technological challenges.
The district’s other two largest counties — Erie and Onondaga — use the NYSCEF system.
In conjunction with the roll out, Judge A. Gail Prudenti, the state’s chief administrative judge, issued an order for the consensual filing in Livingston and Ontario counties, as well as for various civil matters in several counties including Niagara County which will electronically accept the filing of commercial, contract and tort cases; tax certiorari and foreclosure actions addressing real property and mechanics liens on a consensual basis.
In Erie County, mandatory filing began Monday in all Supreme Court actions except Article 78 and Election Law proceedings, in rem tax foreclosures, matrimonial matters, Mental Hygiene Law and small claims assessment reviews under Real Property Tax Law.
Onondaga County also began mandatory e-filing of the same with the additional exceptions of Article 70 proceedings, foreclosure actions, name change applications and emergency medical treatment applications.
E-filing in state courts was first authorized by the state Legislature in 1999 as a pilot program for civil cases in certain counties on a voluntary basis.
Five counties — including Monroe and Livingston — were included in 2010 legislation as part of a major expansion of the experimental e-filing program originally implemented in New York County.
Free online training for the New York State Courts Electronic Filing System is being offered in one-hour sessions Nov. 13, Dec. 11 and Jan. 15, from 2 to 3 p.m.Pre-registration is required at www.nycourts.gov/efile. Click on the “Register for Training” link. An email with an access link to the online session will be sent to your registered email address prior to the training data. The general class offers no continuing legal education credits. The training is sponsored by the New York State Courts E-Filing Resource Center, which may be reached at [email protected] or by calling (646) 386-3033.