Electronic Record in the First DCA

Furthering its mission to become the first District Court of Appeal to have all electronic filing, the First District announced by administrative order that “lower courts, lower tribunals, and state agencies” within its purview will soon be required to upload the record on appeal electronically. Administrative Order 10-4 [.pdf] provides the clerks of court with detailed instructions for providing the First DCA with a certified copy of the notice of appeal using the eDCA portal, filing the order on appeal as a separate document, and also filing a separate “Notice of Appeal Transmittal Form,” electronically. ¶¶ 1, 1(e) and 1(f). For the time being, the filing fee will still be transmitted the old fashioned way. ¶ 1(b). The clerks are encouraged to start now, and required to fully implement the electronic filing of the notice of appeal and accompanying documents by October 1, 2010.

The Courts of Appeal were given the authority to dispense with paper filing back in June.

The record, too, will be required to be transmitted electronically starting October 1, 2010. Recognizing the bulk of the record, the transfer is done via ftp rather than upload to the eDCA system. ¶ 2. The clerks can obtain a waiver on a case-by-case basis if it is impossible to transmit the record electronically.

Court reporters also need to take heed of this order. They, too, must register with eDCA if they are going to ask for or file any pleadings with the Court. So if a court report wants an extension to prepare a transcript, she or he needs to file a motion using the eDCA portal. ¶ 3.

First District Court of Appeal Goes Paper-less

The First DCA continues to be Florida’s leading court for ditching paper filing of briefs. This week, the court announced (.pdf of AO 10-3) its rollout schedule for electronic-only filing: Effective August 9, 2010, all papers that need to be filed in the First DCA may be filed electronically using its eDCA Portal, or by paper, but the court no longer wants both electronic and paper files. Starting September First, all documents should be filed in the First DCA electronically, by uploading a .pdf using the eDCA Portal.

I participated in a CLE not long ago where Judge Hawkes explained how the First DCA has implemented a paper-less system for doing its business. Most of the judges and their staff have double or even triple monitors on their computers, to allow them to view briefs, research, and their own work at the same time.

Congratulations to the First DCA on being a leader in appellate electronic filing!

Transcription Costs Battle Leads to Mandamus Against Manatee Clerk

In yet another sign that the clerks of court are feeling pinched by budget cuts and rising case loads, the Manatee County Clerk tried to cut costs by sending the parties to certain criminal appeals only electronic copies of trial transcripts, and not traditional paper copies. But both the State and the public defenders missed their paper copies, and they sought a writ of mandamus against the Clerk to force him to provide them with paper copies. In State, Office of Atty Gen’l v. Hon. R.B. “Chips” Shore, Clerk, Manatee County, 2D10-1932 (July 28, 2010) [.pdf] the Second DCA concluded that the litigants were correct, and the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure require the Clerk, not the criminal appellant or court reporter, to bear the costs of making additional copies of the transcript.

Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.140(f) provides for an exceptional procedure in certain publicly-funded cases whereby the court reporter files only the transcripts with the clerk, who must then make copies for distribution to the parties: “The lower tribunal may by administrative order in publicly-funded cases direct the clerk of the lower tribunal rather than the approved court reporter or approved transcriptionist to prepare the necessary copies of the original transcripts.” Fla. R. App. P. 9.140(f)(2)(F). The Court analyzed the phrase “copies of the original transcripts” with reference to portions of the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration that define what constitutes the record, and concluded that Rule 2.535 defines transcripts as being bound and printed documents.

What fascinates me about this decision, though, is the underlying policy battles at play. The Clerk claimed he had to go paperless, pursuant to a Supreme Court administrative order. He relied, too, on a state court administrative order. The public defender claimed it did not have the resources to print its own transcripts. In the end, the one provision of the rules in isolation supported the clerk’s take, but the rules as a whole supported the litigants’ view.