TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Mike Hagburg
DATE: September 9, 2013
RE: Rule 3.5, N.D.R.Ct., Electronic Filing in the District Courts
The committee discussed Rule 3.5 extensively at the April meeting, developing proposed amendments and also generating comments for the Supreme Court.
The Court met on the rule in May and approved the amendments the committee suggested. A copy of the rule in its current form (effective June 1, 2013) is attached.
The Court also addressed the committee's comments. The committee requested that, when clerks enter orders in cases, attorneys be notified through the Odyssey® system. The Court turned this matter over to the Odyssey® user group to investigate whether this can be done automatically through the system.
Currently in Odyssey® there is a checkbox in each file that can be turned on to allow attorney notifications. Cass County Clerk of Court Kathy Ouren worked with the Fargo Public Defender's Office to test whether this feature could be used to give attorneys notice of orders. They found that the feature worked and that it gave notice of orders entered in a case. However, it also gave notice of all other activity in the case with each event being noticed by a separate e-mail. Ms. Ouren said that the public defender office staff found this to be somewhat overwhelming and not particularly useful.
Ms. Ouren reported that an improvement to this feature is on the way in the 2014 version of Odyssey® and that our IT people are going to work with the people from Tyler to try to make it work. IT, the clerks and the court administrators realize that this is a feature that attorneys want and that will enhance the way the system operates, so they are going to continue to try to find a workable solution.
The committee also suggested the jury instructions be exempted from Rule 3.5's paragraph numbering requirement. The Court agreed that some documents should not be subject to the paragraph numbering requirement. The state court administrator has developed written guidance for the clerks, copy attached, on when paragraph numbering is not required in documents. Jury instructions are among the documents that are exempt from the requirement. The paragraph numbering guidance has been posted on the Supreme Court website so it can be accessed by attorneys and the public.
The committee discussed the possibility that, at some point in the future, only .pdf documents will be e-filed. The committee suggested to the Court that the paragraph numbering requirement could be eliminated if this happened. The Court did not give much consideration to this suggestion, possibly because different kinds of electronic documents are still being accepted for e-filing. Based on the Court's reaction, the committee will likely need to take an active role in pushing for elimination of the paragraph numbering requirement if the rules are changed to allow only .pdfs in the future.