TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Mike Hagburg
DATE: April 12, 2013
RE: Rule 3.5, N.D.R.Ct., Electronic Filing in the District Courts
At the January meeting, the committee proposed amendments to Rule 3.5 and to N.D.R.Civ.P. 5 related to electronic filing. The Supreme Court adopted amendments to Rule 5 effective April 1 and amendments to Rule 3.5, and additional amendments to N.D.R.Ct. 3.1 and Admission to Practice Rule 1, effective April 15.
The court is seeking comment on the amendments to Rule 3.1 and 3.5, which are attached. In Rule 3.1, the court added a requirement that a filer provide an e-mail address for service on filed documents.
The amendments to Rule 3.5 were more extensive: in addition to approving the committee's amendments, the Court provided a detailed standard for when an attorney can obtain an exemption from e-filing or e-service, more details on the e-mail address an attorney is required to provide for e-service, and details on the consequences if an attorney fails to provide an address for e-service or fails to attend to e-served documents.
The committee may wish to consider whether it desires to provide comments to the Court on the amendments to Rule 3.1 and Rule 3.5 or to suggest that these rules should be amended further.
There is one issue that the Court's amendments to Rule 3.5 did not address. Under the rule, the e-filing requirement is triggered by the fact that a document is being filed, not by who the filer is or whether they are a party to the case. So, when a non-party is required to file a document with the courts, that document must be e-filed. Consequently, sheriffs, guardians ad litem, parenting investigators, medical treatment providers, and many other categories of people that the court needs documents and information from are required to e-file. Many of these people are not enthusiastic about e-filing and their documents are currently making it into the filing system through workarounds, such as bringing the paper document to the juvenile court staff or the state's attorney's staff for scanning and filing by them. At least one sheriff has flatly refused to e-file. The committee may want to discuss whether the e-filing requirement should continue to apply to non-parties.
In its amendments to Rule 3.5 the court created a slight disconnect with the newly amended material in N.D.R.Civ.P. 5. Proposed amendments to Rule 5 to correct this issue are attached.
In its amendments to Rule 3.1, the Court requires the attorneys to provide their e-mail address for e-service in filed documents. This language was based on the language in N.D.R.Civ.P. 11. In Rule 3.1, however, the court specifies that the e-mail address provided must be the e-mail address for e-service. Proposed amendments to Rule 11 that also make this specification are attached.