I attended one of the Hennepin County e-filing trainings last week and, in two words, I’m impressed. A number of things stood out:
- Users can file anytime and the file stamp is the time of e-filing, even if on a Friday evening or Sunday morning. The caveat: if the e-filing is rejected (e.g., you did not pay a required filing fee) the document is not considered filed until the date you pay the fee and refile. Also, once successfully filed, a date stamp appears in the upper right corner of the document indicating the date of filing, which is the date and time you transmitted the documents through the system.
- Users can file documents in various formats, including PDF, Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, or TIFF (an image file). To me, this is one of the best features– no need to purchase and learn additional software.
- The county has set up “ghost” email accounts for judges to receive courtesy copies of filed papers. Hint: if you want to find out a judge’s preference for courtesy copies, check out the newJudicial Survey from the MSBA’s Civil Litigation Section here.
- With courtesy copies, you can also enter your client’s email (or anyone else’s email) when you e-file. The system will then send your client a link to any filed documents, allowing your client to download the documents without signing in, potentially eliminating time spent copying and sending a client copies of documents.
- The system has no limit on file size. Have a 1,000 page brief? Go ahead and file it (but be forewarned that the page limit for briefs and memoranda still applies).
- The system takes a picture (known as imaging) of all e-filed documents, stripping out any metadata you may have left behind and embedded in the file. The end product is an image of your document that you can then view online or download as a PDF to your computer.
The system offers three broad choices to file or to serve documents: 1) file documents only, without service on any parties; 2) file with service, which files the documents and electronically serves anyone who has added his or her name to the case service list, or 3) serve documents only, which simply serves documents on a party listed in the case service list (great for discovery documents). If you are wondering about effectiveness of service, the Minnesota Supreme Court addressed this in a recent orders, stating that a document filed or served electronically under the e-filing system “has the same legal effect as an original document filed or served in paper form” and is “complete upon the date and time of its transmittal through the E-Filing System.” There are other e-filing details and rules set out in the supreme court’s order, which is available here.
Want to see more? Check out (and click on) the screen shots below, which walk you through each step required for filing a new case. I also highly recommend that if you regularly appear in Hennepin County, you sign up for an upcoming training so that you can begin to use the system (Hint: click on the link that begins “Yes, contact me when I can start . . . .”).