All Digital in the First DCA

Florida District Courts of Appeal Map Today’s the day that electronic filing by the clerks of court and court reporters becomes mandatory. As previously discussed, this means that the clerks of court and agencies within the First DCA — which encompases the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th and 14th Circuits — now must transmit their certified copies of the Notice of Appeal and more the record electronically. The Notice of Appeal procedure isn’t too onerous, but I don’t look forward to the delay I envision as the trial court clerks get used to preparing an electronic record on appeal. Great job to the panhandle for leading the way into the 21st century for the Florida intermediate appellate courts.

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.

Bye Bye, Paper Filing (in Tally, at least)

The First District Court of Appeal, as of today, no longer wants attorneys to file papers with its clerk’s office. Last month, the Court stopped requiring attorneys to file both a paper copy and an electronic copy of a paper. Today, the switch over is complete and attorneys with eDCA logins are required to file all papers — briefs, motions, docketing statements — using the eDCA Portal.

Documents must be filed in .pdf form. ¶ 4 Gone is the fine art of the cover letter to the clerk — the Court specifically asks that parties refrain from sending such transmittal letters. ¶ 8 One need not have an original signature on an e-filed brief, but signing up for eDCA filing access means that you are agreeing that any document uploaded on your password carries the same force as one bearing your signature. ¶ 12.

Don’t expect any paper back from the First DCA, either. In the near future, all mandates, opinions, and orders will be e-mailed to the parties. ¶ 10

E-filing briefs? No problem. But give yourself plenty of time to ensure that your appendix is in uploadable form. The other down side — or plus side, depending on how desperate you are on a given day — is that with the advent of e-filing, your brief is deemed filed at any time up until 11:59 pm on a given day.

Finally, don’t forget to serve opposing counsel and prepare an appropriate certificate of service. ¶ 14 The eDCA portal is slick, but it isn’t quite slick enough to take care of sending out service copies for you.