eFiling is coming in the Eleventh Circuit, but it won’t be saving as many trees as you would think. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals will begin allowing voluntary e-filing of briefs and other appeal documents in pending appeals starting January 1, 2011. The Court’s General Order 37 [.pdf] adopts the Eleventh Circuit Guide to Voluntary Electronic Filing, otherwise known as “the Guide.” As in many district court’s ECF rules, use of the login is considered the attorney’s signature on the document “for all purposes”.
One interesting note — the Court requests that .pdfs filed via ECF, whenever possible, “be in Text-Searchable PDF and not created by scanning.” ¶ 4.2. Even if this weren’t the rule, it’s a very good idea, because consider that the documents you file via .pdf are more and more likely to be read by judges and their clerks in electronic form. Help those decision makers help you by making it easy for them to search and annotate your submissions. (I won’t dwell on the irony of the document at that link being a scanned version of the rules).
The Guide does not allow for pro se parties to file electronically, though those filings, too, are to be scanned into the ECF system. ¶ 4.6. Interestingly, the Court will discard originals once scanned unless there is an issue with the quality of the scan. ¶ 5.4.
The Court handles the issue of when a document is filed by holding that the date of the system-generated Notice of Docket Activity (NDA) is the governing time. Electronic filing also includes electronic serving, and if other attorneys on the case are on ECF, they will be served automatically. For appeals, special care will need to be taken to confirm who is getting paper and who is being electronically served, and to ensure compliance with FRAP 25 regarding the certificate of service.
However, appeal participants will still have to serve 7 hard copies of the briefs on the Court, sent the day the brief is electronically filed. ¶ 10.2. And attorneys will still have to take care to ensure that they follow the rules regarding preparing record excerpts.
If you haven’t already registered for appellate ECF, the Court’s instructions for doing so are here [.pdf].