TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Mike Hagburg
DATE: April 10, 2014
RE: Technology Update
1. Notice of case events in Odyssey
The committee has discussed at several meetings the need for attorneys to receive notice of orders that have been entered in pending cases. The committee's concerns were presented to the Court Technology Committee and the court system IT department has worked to find ways to address them. On April 9, after several months of development and testing, IT announced that a new mechanism to provide attorneys notice of case events is available. Attorneys can sign up to get notice of events in cases where they serve as attorney of record. Notice will be sent by e-mail of any "event" in a case, such as an order being entered. Instructions on how to sign up are available on the Supreme Court website.
2. Flagging of emergency motions filed in Odyssey
At the September meeting, members of the committee asked whether there was a way to "flag" an emergency motion when it was filed in Odyssey so that it would be brought to a judge immediately. Staff presented this issue to the Odyssey user group. Group members said that attorneys can enter information in the "comments" field when they file a document and state that it needs to be brought to a judge immediately. Group members said when this is done, clerk staff can e-mail the judge in the case so that the judge can check the case file tracker.
Group members said there was no way to prioritize a specific filing in Odyssey, and that when the clerk follows up on an attorney comment, they typically will only e-mail the judge assigned to the case. The group said if a filing was truly an emergency, the attorney will still need to call the clerk so an alternate judge can be tracked down if the assigned judge is not available. Group members also pointed out that the Odyssey system allows filers to send a "courtesy copy" to whoever they want when they file, so they can send a copy to the chief clerk or the court administrator with a message that it is an emergency filing and needs to be brought to a judge right away.
The group said the 2016 version of Odyssey is being designed to present filings to judges in real time so all filings will get to them more quickly.
3. Notice of Service provided automatically by Odyssey
When a document is served through the Odyssey file and serve system, a notice of service is sent to the parties in the case. Attorneys have asked whether this notice could be used as proof of service rather than requiring attorneys to file a separate formal proof of service document. Odyssey file and serve is a different system than the core Odyssey system used by clerks to maintain electronic case files. IT has been looking into whether it is possible to bring the system-generated notices that attorneys are currently receiving in the file and serve environment over to the electronic case file, where they could by filed as proof of service. So far IT has been unsuccessful in making this work.
When this project was discussed at a recent Court Technology Committee meeting, several members asked whether the notice currently being sent by the system would have to be changed or expanded in some way to qualify as a legitimate "proof of service." Staff agreed to present this question to the Joint Procedure Committee for discussion.
N.D.R.Civ.P. 4 and 5 place the responsibility for preparing proof of service on the person who makes the service. Under Rule 4(j), the essential content requirements for a proof of service document are minimal: "the date, time, place, and manner of service." There are additional requirements if something "is served personally by a person other than the sheriff or person designated by law," but arguably these would not apply when it is an electronic system operated by the court doing the service, especially given the fact that court personnel are already allowed by Rule 5(f) to provide proof of service by certificate.
The committee may wish to discuss what the content requirements for a system-generated proof of service should be so that these can be passed along to the Court Technology Committee and IT. The committee may also wish to discuss whether rule amendments will be needed if proof of service can be provided automatically through Odyssey.