There’s been some buzz online about the U.S. Supreme Court announcing that it is building an electronic filing system. Word came in the form of Chief Justice Roberts’ 2014 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary [.pdf].
The report states:
The Supreme Court is currently developing its own electronic filing system, which may be operational as soon as 2016. Once the system is implemented, all filings at the Court—petitions and responses to petitions, merits briefs, and all other types of motions and applications—will be available to the legal community and the public without cost on the Court’s website. Initially, the official filing of documents will continue to be on paper for all parties in all cases, with the electronic submission an additional requirement for parties represented by attorneys. Once the system has operated effectively for some time and the Supreme Court Bar has become well acquainted with it, the Court expects that electronic filing will be the official means for all parties represented by counsel, but paper filings will still be required.
So it sounds like electronic filing is on its way, but the major Supreme Court publishers don’t need to worry about their business models going down the tubes just yet. As long as paper copies are required in their current bound format, Supreme Court practitioners will need outside publishers.
And speaking of going down the tubes, the report is worth a read for its fascinating preamble discussing the history of pneumatic tubes (you know, those tube systems you use at the bank drive through?) at the Court. It’s an interesting discussion of the speed of change, or lack thereof, in the Federal court system.