GR 30 - Electronic Filing
Comments for GR 30 must be received no later than June 22, 2007.
Suggested Changes to
Purpose: The Judicial Information Systems Committee (JISC) is proposing amendments to GR 30, Electronic Filing of Court Records. This rule became effective September 30, 2003. Since that time, the legal community has had the opportunity to implement this rule and several stakeholders have made suggestions and comments regarding possible amendments to GR 30 that would increase participation in electronic filing. Electronic filing and court records moved to the forefront in many of our courts due to the positive experiences users were having in federal court and the desire of the law enforcement community to electronically file citations, warrants, and certifications for probable cause. However, without the suggested amendments it is believed that few court users will take advantage of electronic filing in Washington State.
These suggested amendments simplify the ability of court users to electronically file while addressing concerns regarding proper authentication of electronic documents.
The following changes to GR 30 are being proposed:
Definitions - Section (a)1
- Digital signature is defined using the statutory definition. (See proposed GR(a)(1).)
- Definition of “filer” was added to the definition section. (See proposed GR(a)(5).)
Electronic filing authorization, exception. Service, and technology equipment – Section (b)
- Requires filer or parties who agree to e-filing to provide their email address and to have a mailbox sufficient to receive electronic transmissions of court documents. (See proposed GR 30(b)(3).)
- Removes statement that electronic filing is voluntary. The proposed rule permits local courts to require attorneys (but not self-represented litigants) to electronically file. The work group felt that the revision would encourage attorneys to participate in electronic filing and protect a local court’s authority to make e-filing mandatory.
The United States District Court – Western District now has mandatory electronic filing for attorneys. Ms Shirley Lindberg (retired as of August 2006) manager of the Court’s electronic filing project addressed the work group and shared the success of their e-filing project because of the mandatory requirement. She reported that while almost every attorney who files in their court now prefers electronic filing, it wasn’t until electronic filing was mandatory that the majority of attorneys began using it. She said more than one attorney commented, “I wouldn’t have tried it unless you made me. Now I wouldn’t go back.” Modeled after the federal rule, this proposed amendment allows for an attorney to opt out of electronic filing if good cause is shown. The rule preserves and addresses the policy concern that electronic filing should not serve as a barrier to court access. (See GR 30(b)(5).)
Time of Filing, Confirmation, and Rejection – Section (c)
- If a document is rejected for failing to comply with applicable electronic filing requirements, the clerk must state the reason for the rejection. (See GR 30(c)(3).)
Authentication of Electronic Documents – Section (d)
- The requirement that the filer obtain a password and personal identification number from either the Administrative Office of the Courts or the clerk is removed. Instead, the filer must apply for and receive a user ID and password from the electronic filing service provider and file the document using the user ID and password. This will simplify the authorization process. The filer may also authorize another person to use his or her user ID and password thereby allowing paralegals and others to electronically file documents at the request of others. Similar electronic filing procedures are used in the United States District Court - Western District of Washington. (See GR 30(d)(1)(A-C).)
- Any electronic document requiring the signature of an attorney may be signed with a digital signature or the manner set forth in GR 30(d)(2)(A).
- Any electronic document requiring a signature of a non-attorney and not signed under penalty of perjury may be signed by either digital signature or in the manner described in GR 30(d)(2)(B).
- A non-attorney signature that is made under penalty of perjury must either have a digital signature or be scanned with original document maintained by the filer for the duration of the case. (See GR 30(d)(2)(C).)
- An arresting or citing officer may sign citations and notice of infractions by using his or her user ID and password. This allows officers to electronically file traffic tickets from their vehicles and addresses the concerns of the eTickets project. (See GR 30(d)(2)(D).)
- Documents that contain multiple signatures must be scanned unless the document contains digital signatures of all the signers or, for documents not signed under penalty of perjury, the signing attorney or judicial officer has the express authority to sign for another attorney or party and represents so in the document. The filer is required to maintain the document if any of the signatures are of non-attorneys. (See GR 30(d)(2)(E).)
- Signatures on electronic signature pads (such as UPS uses) are accepted as long as authorized and facilitated by the court. (See GR 30(d)(2)(F).)
1 Please note that the numbering of the sections of the rule was changed to make it consistent with the other court rules. For example, what is referenced as “GR 30.1” has been changed to GR 30(a).