The New York State Bar Association today commended the Legislature for passing and Governor Andrew Cuomo for signing a bill to expand electronic filing, or e-filing, of legal documents in state courts.
The Office of Court Administration program bill (A.10796/S.7592A) expands the existing pilot program, which now covers civil actions in some jurisdictions, to include criminal and family courts in several counties. New York's e-filing pilot program began in 1999.
"Since 1999 more than 10,000 people have used the state's pilot e-filing system, which has proven dependable and efficient. Its benefits include the ability to upload and serve court papers following summonses and complaints; increased security; and extensive savings of time and money," said State Bar President Seymour W. James, Jr. of New York City (The Legal Aid Society). "Currently, e-filing is mandatory in federal courts. The State Bar Association supports mandatory e-filing in all state courts as well. This legislation moves New York a step closer to achieving that goal."
As of March 1, 2012, e-filing had been authorized on a mandatory basis for various civil matters in Supreme Court in five counties and certain Surrogate's Court proceedings in three counties. Voluntary e-filing - with the consent of the parties - has been authorized for certain matters in the Supreme Court in 13 counties, in the Surrogate's Court in 11 counties, in the Albany District of the Court of Claims, and in the New York City Civil Court.
The measure signed by Governor Cuomo expands e-filing to criminal and family courts in several counties. To ensure confidentiality, e-filed documents in those courts would not be available to the public online. Courts would use the existing New York State Courts Electronic Filing System (NYSCEF).
In 2007, the State Bar's Task Force on Electronic Filing of Court Documents studied e-filing and made recommendations to the state Office of Court Administration on how a mandatory and universal system could be implemented in New York.
In March 2012, the association's House of Delegates approved a report of the Committee on Court Structure and Operations that reiterated the State Bar's support of universal mandatory e-filing. According to the report, e-filing would maximize the savings and benefits of eliminating paperwork. It also would simplify use for attorneys practicing in different courts across the state, allow appellate courts to review documents already on file, and reduce the number of documents that would need to be filed and printed. The 2012 report is available online at www.nysba.org/EFilingReport.
Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman has estimated that a statewide e-filing system could save taxpayers and litigants more than $300 million each year in employee time, court fees, paperwork and transportation costs, while allowing attorneys to file papers around the clock from anywhere in the world.
The 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the country. It was founded in 1876.
Contact: Mark Mahoney
Associate Director, Media Services & Public Affairs