Second DCA to Switch to eDCA System

At this Morning’s State of the Second DCA CLE, Clerk Mary Beth Kuenzel announced a big and imminent change in the way that Court will be processing changes: as soon as March 1st, the Court will have transitioned to the eDCA filing system, and away from the Florida Court’s Portal. What does this mean for practitioners? If you are used to practicing in other DCAs, this transition won’t be too difficult, but for folks who only know the Portal, there will be some adjustment needed.

Sign Up Early. Watch the Clerk’s Website for the chance to sign up for eDCA in the next week. You’ll want to get your registration processed before it goes live and you need to file. You need a separate login for each District’s eDCA system.

Be Ready to Effectuate Separate Service. While eDCA provides “Case Mail” as soon as something is filed, that does not count as Service under Florida Rule of Judicial Administration Rule 2.516. You have to go back to sending a separate email for service.

Instant Orders. What we give up with service, we’ll get back tenfold by getting Court orders and opinions by email instead of U.S. Mail. This will save the Clerk more than $50,000 a year in postage, and save attorneys a lot of hassle, too.

Record on Demand. With eDCA, attorneys of record can download from the docket any DCA filing, including the Record on Appeal once transmitted. No more need for the FTP work around, which worked, but was time intensive for Court staff.

Briefs on Demand. Registrants to the system will also be able to pull briefs in cases where they are NOT counsel of record. Pretty handy if you are briefing the same issue!

Portal for Payment. The Second District will still be on the portal for one reason — to accept payment of filing fees. If you pay through the portal, plan to upload a simple payment transmittal letter, and ONLY a payment transmittal letter. Any other document or pleading will be kicked.

The hope is that the portal will be ready to work with the DCA internal docketing systems by Spring of 2018, and at that point, all of them will switch to the portal. But for now, all DCAs will require separate eDCA login.

Editor’s Note: We were in such a rush to get out this news, we forgot to mention the payment issue. This article is updated to reflect that information!

Court Requests Word Documents

The Second District Court of Appeal last week issued a — notice? request? gentle nudge? — asking that attorneys submitting briefs via the eFiling Portal submit Microsoft Word documents instead of .pdfs. According to the notice [.pdf here] while the court cannot mandate filing Word documents, “the court strongly encourages use of MS Word for submission of briefs” because “Installing hyperlinks to citations by court staff is greatly facilitated if the document in
question is filed in MS Word.”

And if the Court staff is happy, the judges are happy. And if the judges are happy, they are focusing on your substance instead of administrative matters. So take note, 2DCA appellants. Take note.

Bonus tip for WordPerfect users: You can most likely adhere to the Court’s request by filing your document in the more universal .rtf format. The portal accepts WordPerfect documents as well as Word documents, but the .rtf file format will more closely preserve your formatting when the Court opens your document in Word.

Fourth DCA Allows Pro Se Parties to File Electronically

The Fourth District Court of Appeal will now allow pro se parties — that is, parties representing themselves on appeal — to file documents electronically using the Court’s eDCA system. The Court made the announcement in its revised Notice to Attorneys and Parties Representing Themselves (Rev. June 25, 2014) [.pdf]. Pro se litigants can sign up for eDCA filing at the Court’s website.

Parties should note that filing using the eDCA system does not effectuate service as required by Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.516. Pro se parties can participate in service by e-mail, if they follow the rules. You can find my description of those rules in my prior post on pro se service.