Hawaii Bar Journal
March 2011 #2.
Electronic Filing in the State Courts
Hawaii State Bar JournalMarch 2011Electronic Filing in the State Courts by Susan Pang GochrosAs Judge Faris notes, electronic filing is taken for granted by federal court practitioners. State court practitioners, however, have only recently seen state courts developing and implementing e-filing. As of 2010, only fifteen state courts had implemented appellate e-filing systems.
The Hawai'i Judiciary has embarked on an ambitious plan to transition from paper court records to electronic court records. As part of that project, the Hawai'i Appellate Courts started e-filing last September. The Hawai'i Judiciary's Electronic Filing and Service System (JEFS), which will be expanded to include trial courts, makes our justice system both more accessible and more efficient.
The features of this appellate e-filing system, its advantages, how it has been received by court practitioners, questions and answers developed to assist users, and a preview of what is to come, follow.
What is Hawaii's Judiciary's Electronic Filing and Service System (JEFS)?
As of September 27, 2010, the Hawai'i Supreme Court and the Hawai'i Intermediate Court of Appeals accepted electronic filings. JEFS allows eligible and registered attorneys and eligible and registered unrepresented parties to electronically file documents in the Hawai'i Intermediate Court of Appeals and the Hawai'i Supreme Court.
Appellate electronic filing is mandatory for appellate attorneys and available to any pro se party with an active case in the Hawai'i Supreme Court or the Hawai'i Intermediate Court of Appeals.
Why was e-filing implemented by the Hawai'i Judiciary?
E-filing was implemented for the benefit of parties, attorneys, courts, and the public. The technology is similar to systems used by the federal courts and other state courts. It allows the Judiciary to provide expanded hours for filing and allows registered users of the system im m e di ate access to documents even when the courthouse is closed. Also, having electronic dockets of appellate cases available online to the public increases the Judiciary's transparency.
How are documents filed?
Documents are filed through the Judiciary's secure web site and attached to the docket of the appropriate case listed in the existing Judiciary Information Management System (JIMS) database.
What are the noticeable benefits of e-filing and an electro n i c record?
Case documents can be accessed and filed even when the courts are d o s e d. Fu It he r, u n l i ke paper documents, multiple individuals can access documents at the same time. In many instances, the filed documents are served ele c tro n ic a Ilyj thereby eliminating the costs and the delay associated with physical service of documents. Documents are instantly available to court personnel, including judges and justices.
What challenges have developed since e-filing was implemented and how have they been remedied? Have there been any "major surprises" or changes implemented since its inception?
James Branham, Hawai'i Supreme Court Chief Staff Attorney, spearheaded the e-filing project and both developed and provided training for its use (including the FAQs that follow.) He reports that e-filing has been quite successful, but can continue to be improved. In fact, a number of improvements are in the process of development.
Branham notes that the Judiciary has experienced no major surprises with the implementation of e-filing and its related case management system. He is grateful that "JEFS Users, including attorneys, private and Judiciary support staff, and agency personnel, have been patient, helpful, and willing to share experiences and ideas."
What rules apply to documents filed through JEFS?
Documents filed through JEFS are subject to the requirements of the...