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Court e-Filing procedures

Bulletin Board Announcements

1. Panel e-filing email: See FAQ #8 if you have a change of email address.

2. NEW: Third District alert: Be careful not to checkmark question box #6 on the EOT form which calls for "Sufficient copies of the request and stamped, pre-addressed envelopes for all counsel (including yourself) are included
with this request
." As counsel does NOT need to send copies or envelopes, this box should not be used.

3. No full e-service to CCAP (yet): CCAP is starting an e-service pilot project. Over time, we intend to expand both the number of documents and panel participants in the pilot. If you are not yet in the pilot, we thank you for your patience while we work out the logistics here at CCAP for working with e-documents.

 

How does e-filing work in the Third District?

Step 1 – The Third District's e-filing website portal (external link) now accepts first time EOT e-filings which are submitted via a confidential channel (a secure FTP process). Please read and follow their site instructions. The court clerk's office has confirmed that first-time EOTs may be e-filed in both criminal and dependency cases. No paper copies are needed. A digital signature is not required.

E-filing is voluntary in this court.

 

How does e-filing work in the Fifth District?

Step 1 – When CCAP sends a panel appointment recommendation to the court, we also send the court counsel's designated email address choice for e-filing and e-service. (See FAQs below for tips.)

Step 2 – After the court signs the appointment order, counsel will have 10 days from the date of appointment to notify the court if they wish to opt out of e-filing due to undue hardship. If counsel does not opt out, counsel's e-service email will be listed in the "Parties and Attorneys" court docket profile online. If counsel does opt out, counsel's e-service email will not be listed, but counsel also forfeits the opportunity to e-file with the court and e-service by the parties.

Step 3 – E-filing a document: The Fifth District's e-filing website portal (external link) now accepts designated e-filings which are submitted via a confidential channel (a secure FTP process). Please read and follow their site instructions.

All non-issue briefs such as Wende must be e-filed with this court
. E-filing a first-time EOT is voluntary. 

Step 4 – Counsel will receive a confirmation email that the e-filed document was received. Once the document is filed, a second confirmation email will reflect the date of filing. These emails do not disclose confidential information.

 

FAQs:

Q1: What is e-filing all about?

A: As of April 1, 2013, the Fifth District Court of Appeal implemented mandatory electronic document filing (e-filing) for all non-issue briefs (i.e., Wende briefs [in criminal and 602 appeals], Phoenix H. briefs [in dependency appeals], and Ben C. briefs [in LPS conservatorship appeals]). Counsel may also choose to file a first time EOT via e-filing for all cases.

As of April 1, 2013, the Third District Court of Appeal implemented voluntary e-filing for a first-time EOT in any case.

Read our Top 10 Tips for e-filing in the Fifth (PDF)

 

Q2: Is e-filing secure for confidential cases?

A: Yes. Both courts use a confidential channel (a secure FTP process) via the court's website portal to receive e-filed documents. Do not submit your documents via your email program. You must use the court's web page to submit a PDF document to them for e-filing.

 

Q3: How is this different than other Courts of Appeal that accept e-filing?

A: Currently every Court of Appeal is accepting, sending or receiving some documents electronically. The procedures, however, are set by the individual court and widely vary. It is left to counsel to follow procedures set by the court they are e-filing with. This article addresses only the procedures for the Third and the Fifth Districts.

 

Q4: There are two buttons on the court's webpage. What is the difference between e-filing and e-submissions?

A: It is important for counsel to understand the difference between e-SUBMISSION, e-FILING, and e-SERVICE.

  1. e-SUBMISSION (electronic submission) of a brief or other document via the court’s web site simply replaces one paper copy to be sent to the court, it does not relieve counsel from meeting the court's deadline for mailing and filing the document. 
  2. e-FILING (electronic filing) is in lieu of court copies. No paper copies are sent to the court, as e-filing in these courts is entirely paperless “green” for permitted documents.
  3. e-SERVICE (electronic service) is serving one of the parties by email, rather than by old fashioned snail mail. Paper copy service is still be required under Rules of Court, rule 8.360(d) unless e-service is accepted by the parties under rule 8.71(a)(2). At this time, neither the Attorney General nor CCAP accepts e-service (for business process reasons); both are in pilot programs, however, to test and resolve issues.

The Fifth District provides a confirmation of receipt and filing of documents as described in rule 8.79(a). For this reason, CCAP has been asked to collect an email address from each panel attorney for this purpose.  It is expected that e-filing in lieu of paper copies will assist the court and counsel in processing these cases more efficiently and reduce costs for all. (And maybe save a few trees!)

E-Filing vs. E-Submission -- Which is Which? Tips for which button to use on the court's site (PDF)

 

Q5: Why does the Fifth District need my email?

A: For the court to meet its responsibilities for maintaining electronic filing, the court is required by the Rules of Court to maintain and make available to the parties an electronic service list. For example, to maintain e-service on the Attorney General via an email link, counsel's reciprocal email address must be made available. (See amended Rules of Court, rule 8.70 et seq (PDF)., effective 1/1/12.) The Fifth District prefers to maintain a separate list for this purpose.

The Fifth District also requests that only the attorney's e-filing email address be used when uploading a document for e-filing or e-submission; do not use a secretary's email address, for example.

 

Q6: Can I use my normal business email for this, or use another one?

A: It is your choice. Some attorneys prefer not to maintain more than one email address.  Counsel is strongly encouraged, however, to consider whether it suits their practice to set up a standardized separate email address with either their current email provider or with a free email service provider such as Gmail or Yahoo for this. This email address will also be listed in the "Parties and Attorneys" court docket profile online as described in Fifth District procedures step 2, above.

 

Q7: What about clients or the public using this email to contact me?

A: This is a possibility. However counsel is not required to answer emails other than to direct the person to a more appropriate contact forum such as your business address, in writing. Consider drafting an appropriate template answer to all such email inquiries, such as, "This email address is intended only for e-filing and e-service with the Court of Appeal. Your email will not be processed. You may contact me at: [business address]."

 

Q8: What if my email address changes?

A: Send a letter to advise the court of the change of email for your cases. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.76(a)(5).)

In addition, advise CCAP so new appointments will be sent to the court with a current email address for e-filing. Please notifying CCAP by completing this form:  

Panel Email Change Form (PDF)

 

Q9: How do I obtain a free email?

A: Both Gmail and Yahoo provide a free email service.
1) For Gmail type in the link and then click the red button “CREATE AN ACCOUNT”: mail.google.com/mail/signup   
2) For Yahoo type in the link and then click the yellow button “Create New Account”: mail.yahoo.com/
3) For a separate second email address with your current email provider (such as AOL, ATT, Comcast, etc.), please contact your email provider directly and follow their instructions.  (Be sure to inquire whether there is a charge for this service!)

 

Q10: What documents will be accepted for e-filing?

A: E-filing for first-time EOTs in for all cases is now available for both courts.

Additionally, the Fifth District requies e-filing of all non-issue briefs (i.e., Wende briefs [in criminal and 602 appeals], Phoenix H. briefs [in dependency appeals], and Ben C. briefs [in LPS conservatorship appeals]).

Note that the e-submission list of documents is different. The list is designated on the court's web site. Do not submit any document, brief, or motion that is not listed.

 

Q11: The Fifth requires e-filed Wende briefs. What does the new appointment order language say?

A: For all Fifth District cases, the appointment order includes a variation of the following language:

"Pursuant to California Rules of Court, rule 8.70 et seq., the court hereby gives notice of its election to implement the following e-filing project. Commencing April 1, 2012, in the event counsel determines there is no arguable issue to raise in this appeal, counsel shall file only an electronic original of the Appellant’s Opening Brief pursuant to People v. Wende (1979) 25 Cal.3d 436, 441 (Wende brief) with the court, notwithstanding California Rules of Court, rule 8.204(b). 

"Counsel shall continue to serve paper copies, according to the additional service requirements of California Rules of Court, rule 8.360(d), unless, pursuant to California Rules of Court, rule 8.71(a)(2), a party indicates that the party agrees to accept electronic service.

"Any opposition to this e-filing order, on grounds that it would cause undue hardship or significant prejudice, must be filed by counsel within 10 days after the date of this order. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.73(a).)"

 

Q12: What about original "wet" signatures for the Word Count certificate and the Proof of Service?

A: For both the Proof of Service and the Word Count certificate, both courts will forego the need for an original document "wet" signature on a e-filed document. A scanned copy of your signature is not required.

For the Word Count, provide the count and maintain the signed copy in your file (a good business practice).

For the Proof of Service, the court is applying Rules of Court, rule 8.71(f)(3).  The party filing the proof of service must maintain the printed form of the document bearing the declarant’s signature and must make the document available for inspection and copying at the court’s request.

TIP#1: For signatures on e-filed documents, type "/S/ YOUR NAME" above the signature line (fancy font anyone?).

TIP#2: A digital copy of your signature is not required pursuant to Rule of Court, rule 8.77(d). However, if you wish to learn how to "digitally sign" a PDF using newer versions of Adobe Reader, there are several instruction videos online that walk through these steps. Adobe has one posted here (external link).

 

Q13: What document format will I need for e-filing?

A: E-filed documents must be a single PDF file that is an exact duplicate of the paper copy maintained in your file (including the cover sheet, tables, and proof of service).

 

Q14: How do I create a PDF?

A: The court has posted how-to instructions (PDF) on converting documents to PDFs.

Note: A scanned copy of a document does not usually produce a text-searchable PDF file. Instead of scanning, counsel is encouraged to learn how to convert their word-processing document into a PDF format that will meet this criteria. Only the Fifth District will accept scan-produced PDFs (for now); the Third District requires a text-searchable PDF.

Tip: The Fifth District requests that PDFs e-filed with their court use the extension .PDF not .PDF/A. The PDF/A file is a "locked down" version of a PDF so no modification can be made to the document.

However, with the PDF/A version, the court also cannot add an electronic file stamp to your document when it is filed. Consequently, the clerk will have to call you to re-send your document in a .PDF format.

 

Q15: Is there a naming convention for documents?

A: Yes. Both the Fifth District and CCAP can more readily identify and sort your electronic documents if a standardized naming convention is followed. Recommended naming convention/codes list (PDF)

 

Q16: Do I need additional software to do this?

A: No. E-filing should not require additional computer software.  Your current word-processing program should be able to convert a document to a PDF format, and the PDF document is attached to an electronic processing form similar to attaching a document to an email. 

Instructions for creating the PDF (external link) to send to the court are posted online.

The court's filing page is also online. See "How Does E-filing Work?" at the top of this page.

 

Q17: Will CCAP accept e-service of my document as well?

A: Not yet. At this time CCAP still requires appointed counsel to send us paper copies of all documents traditionally required to be sent to us. A pilot project for e-service to CCAP is underway.  Because our email server has size limits for attachments, it is unlikely that we will be able to use email as a long-term solution. So for now, please continue to serve us a paper copy of what you file with the court while we find a solution.

 

Q18: I am still not convinced. How do I opt out?

A: E-filing is not required in the Third District so you do not need to do anything. You may continue to use a paper/mail business process with them.

In the Fifth District, we want to assure you that the Fifth District staff has put every effort into the development of their new e-filing system that will be genuinely green, easy for counsel to use, reduce your mailing time and expenses, and will dispense with some of the mounds of paper we all produce day after day. Court staff, in fact, is very excited about expanding this possibility and have been working with local court reporters, superior court clerks, and the Attorney General to encourage all the various entities and people who work in the appellate system to “go green!” Your participation in e-filing and e-service will be an essential element to the success of this program since it will be counsel’s initiation for filing “green” that will start the ball rolling for that case. Imagine: no paper copies, no mailing expenses, no rush to the post office, paperless case!

But we also understand that change is hard and may present problems for some people. You may opt out by following the instructions in Step 2 above within the court's stated time limit. File your hardship notice with the court and send a copy to CCAP. Opting out will forfeit the opportunity to participate in e-filing with the court and any available e-service by the parties.

 

Q19: Who do I contact if I have a question about e-filing in a particular case?

A: The court clerk's office can be contacted for questions about a document transmitted for e-filing. Ask to speak with the deputy clerk assigned to the case. CCAP can answer general questions about e-filing.

 

Q20: I have a question not answered here.

A: We welcome your input, insights, thoughts and concerns.  We know that input from the panel strengthens our mutual understanding for the benefit of the entire system, and for that we sincerely thank you. Please feel free to contact us by email at resources@capcentral.org or call us at (916) 441-3792.

 

 

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