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California State Bar Conducts Largest MCLE Audit to Date

  
  
  

Back in February of this year, One Legal attended an MCLE rule amendment meeting at the California State Bar. As an MCLE provider, it is essential that we comply with the changing rules. As you may remember, we reported that the State Bar would be strictly enforcing compliance rules and that attorneys should be expecting an increase in MCLE audits.

True to their word, the California State Bar sent audit letters to 5,500 attorneys on July 7. For the last four years, the State Bar has conducted audits that could potentially result in disciplinary action. This year's audit is the largest to date.

Those attorneys who received an audit letter have been asked to either provide MCLE certificates of completion or prove they are statutorily exempt by Aug. 21. The State Bar currently requires active attorneys to take 25 hours of continuing education courses every three years. Documentation must be kept for at least a year after their compliance is due.

This year's audit included lawyers who were required to make up missing hours as a result of being audited in 2011. The audit also included a higher proportion of those with other risk factors for doing poorly on the audit, such as a history of administrative actions or late filing of MCLE compliance. The remaining number were chosen at random from attorneys whose last names begin with the letters N through Z.

“We’re using the data we have from previous audits to focus our regulatory efforts on lawyers who are at higher risk of noncompliance,” State Bar President Luis J. Rodriguez said. “By doing so we can fulfill our public protection mission without burdening the vast majority of lawyers who are honest and doing the right thing.”

The audit contains two parameters, administrative and disciplinary. If an attorney is audited and does not respond accordingly by October 31, he or she will be suspended on November 1. In addition, those who appear to have falsely declared they were compliant will be referred to the Office of Chief Trial Counsel for possible disciplinary action.

To date, 24 attorneys have been disciplined as a result of the MCLE audits and one has resigned with charges pending. Nine discipline cases are currently awaiting approval by the California Supreme Court and a number of other cases are still pending in State Bar Court.

For more information about MCLE requirements and reporting, visit the State Bar’s MCLE web page. You can also read the FAQs about what to do in case you’re contacted for an MCLE audit.

If you are interested in attending one of our free, MCLE accredited courses, visit our Training page!One Legal, eFiling, MCLE

Proposed Order Submission Made Easier with Orange County eFiling

  
  
  

Last week we published What's New in Civil and Probate highlighting the Proposed Order document submission. We wanted to let our customers know that they would not have to worry about the update as it has been in place for some time now.

We have great news! In order to simplify the process, you no longer have to upload the PDF version of a Proposed Order at all. Only the Microsoft Word copy is needed. Our system will automatically create a PDF copy to meet the court's needs per CRC 3.1312.

 

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Wondering about the Proposed Order (Cover Sheet) form EFS-020? While the California Rule of Court 3.1312(c) requires the use of a cover sheet, the Orange County Superior Court stated that it does not need to receive a copy of said cover sheet with your eFiling. With that said, our system allows you to upload the form as a separate document in the same transaction.

Here is a follow-up release from the Court:

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Yet another commonly asked question relates to the way filers will receive signed orders back from the court. With the new system, the court will be reviewing the proposed orders separately from any other documents in the transaction. This means that you will be getting ‘asynchronous’ email notifications of your filing - first a confirmation of filing for motion documents as soon as they are accepted and later on a separate confirmation for the Proposed Order once it is ruled upon and signed by the judicial officer.

As with all electronically filed documents, your conformed copies will be available for download under either the "Recent Activity" or “Order Status” tabs of your user interface. Please see our training guides for help on accessing your documents.

Want to know more? Click to sign up for our "Oranges the Year 'Round - eFiling & eService in Orange County Superior Court" training webinar or email us at training@onelegal.com to request in-person group training at your firm or office.

Solano County Superior Court Announces Bad News for the Fiscal Year

  
  
  

Solano County Superior Court officials have announced cuts for the upcoming fiscal year that will result in Vallejo clerk office closures and staff layoffs.

This year's state budget act includes $129.1 million for trial court operations. Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye stated that the need for the entire state to maintain services is $266 million. This leaves the Solano courts with an $830,000 deficit going into the fiscal year.

In order to balance the local court budget, the civil clerk's office in Vallejo will close effective September 22 and be consolidated with the civil clerk's office in Fairfield. It will now be located in the Old Solano Courthouse at 580 Texas Street in Fairfield. Small Claims will remain in the Hall of Justice at 600 Union Avenue.

Effective September 29, the court will close the Family Law Clerk's Office at the Solano Justice Building in Vallejo. The Family Law Clerk's Office will be located solely at the Hall of Justice, 600 Union Avenue, Fairfield. All Family Law matters will be heard in Fairfield.

In addition, the court will implement six furlough and/or limited operation days for the fiscal year and will eliminate four positions, three of which will mean layoffs.

"We all deeply regret the further reduction of services to the public. Over the past five years, our court's budget has been reduced by five million dollars," said Solano Presiding Judge E. Bradley Nelson. "Although this year's budget provided a small amount of relief, it is simply not enough to maintain our already diminished services. We will strive to continue to serve the public to the best of our ability with our limited resources. Our judicial officers and employees remain committed to that goal. I cannot thank them enough for their efforts."

You can read more on the Solano County Court closures, furloughs and layoffs here.

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Judicial Ethics Advisory Opinion Seeks Public Comment on Draft

  
  
  

The California Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions is providing the opportunity for public comment on a draft advisory opinion discussing how judges may determine whether advocacy or consultation at public hearings is or is not permissible under the Code of Judicial Ethics. The draft opinion discusses the benefit to the public and to the members of the executive and legislative branches of government when judges appear at public hearings to provide input in matters concerning the law.The opinion states that a judge may appear at a public hearing or officially consult with an executive or legislative body or public official on particular matters. However, this input cannot contravene any other provisions of the Code of Judicial Ethics.

The draft opinion and invitation to comment are posted on the committee’s website at http://www.JudicialEthicsOpinions.ca.gov/itc.  The deadline for comment is August 15, 2014.

After considering the public’s comments on the draft opinion, the committee will decide whether or not to publish an opinion in final form. Comments are due by August 15, 2014, and may be submitted in any of the following ways:

The committee will post on the Committee of Judicial Ethics Opinion website at the close of the comment period.

For more information about CJEO, visit the CJEO website and view the members’ page, call toll-free at 1-855-854-5366, or email Judicial.Ethics@jud.ca.gov.

You can also read more on this invitation for public comment here.

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Five San Diego Civil eFiling Requirements You Need to Know

  
  
  

San Diego County Superior Court has revised its Civil eFiling requirements.  All requirements are effective as of June 30, 2014.  Here are five updates that you should be aware of:

San Diego Superior County Court seal

1)      North County Division is open for eFiling for non-mandated civil cases if the case has been first initiated on or after June, 2014 or if the case is already pending as of June 19, 2014 and has been imaged by the court. 

2)      eService is mandated for mandatory eFiling for Construction Defect & JCCP for all partied pursuant to CRC 2.251. 

3)      The court has added that they “will maintain and make available an official electronic service list in Construction Defect/JCCP cases through One Legal”.  The court will use the same service list to serve documents on all parties.  The court has emphasized that it is the responsibility of all parties to provide One Legal their correct contact information for the eService list in each Construction Defect & JCCP case no later than July 7, 2014.  Also, any new parties who enter a case must provide One Legal their e-mail address for the cases within 7 days of joining the case. Lastly, it is the parties’ responsibility to notify One Legal if any changes to that e-mail address within 7 days of that change during the pendency of that case (CRC 2.251(f)(1)).  “Failure to keep the official list updated may result in the court being unable to provide notice to a non-complying party of upcoming hearings, orders, and other proceedings.” 

4)      You are required to add all their parties listed in the documents that they are being eFiled, if the party is not already a part of the case.  If you fail to do so the court will rejected that eFiling transaction.

5)      When eFiling documents, you are responsible to select the correct document name. The court states that eFiled documents “must be correctly named and/or categorized by Document Type. The lead document must also be designated appropriately”.  The lead document determines the filing priority level. The failure to do both of these actions can lead to a delay with the filing of your documents.

To review the new revised requirements please click here. To sign up for free San Diego eFiling training and view free training guides and videos, click here.  

Orange County Superior Court - What's New in Civil and Probate

  
  
  

We want to share "What's New in Civil and Probate" from Orange County Superior Court. Please check out the May and June editions (click for full view):

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Here are some highlights as per the court's blasts:

Reserve a Motion (Civil)
All motion reservations will be cancelled if the documents are not received by the court within 24 hours. If a reservation is cancelled and hearing date is no longer available, matter will be scheduled for the next available hearing date. 

Courtesy Copies (Civil)
If your filing is more than 75 pages we recommend delivering a courtesy copy to the courtroom. (One Legal customers have the option to add a courtesy copy delivery order to their eFiling transaction for $26.95 for next day delivery with optional urgent delivery available.)

E-Service Address
In accordance with rule 2.111(1) of the California Rules of Court documents filed electronically should include the e-mail address of the attorney of record or self-represented litigant. The e-mail address listed on the document should be the one where the attorney is willing to accept e-service.

New Probate Forms
Local forms 732 and 880 have been replaced by Judicial Council forms. These forms are used in all probate case types and must be eFiled.

Proposed Orders/Stipulations and Orders
Coming soon and in accordance with rule 3.1312 of the California Rules of Court the Court will be launching a proposed order module that will require the parties to submit a Word version of their proposed order along with a PDF.

(Note to One Legal customers: this feature has been embedded with our OC eFiling platform for some time now so there is no need to do anything differently.)

Sealed Documents
To ensure proper processing of sealed documents please select the filing name “Sealed Document” when eFiling your document. Pursuant to CRC 2.551, documents must clearly state in the caption “CONDITIONALLY UNDER SEAL” or “SEALED BY ORDER OF THE COURT (Date.)” Failure to correctly identify the document as sealed may result in your information being compromised.

Probate Ex Parte
Beginning July 1, 2014, all ex parte applications with supporting documents, proof of service and orders must be filed no later than 10:30 a.m. the day before the hearing. When submitting an Ex Parte through eFiling you must select “Ex Parte” as the lead document name. Failure to select the correct document may impact your ability to seek timely consideration of a matter.

San Diego Superior Court Prepares for eFiling in North County

  
  
  

On May 20, San Diego Superior Court announced that effective June 30, 2014 it will initiate eFiling in its North County Civil Division. Documents may be filed electronically in North County Civil cases where either: (1) the case is first initiated on or after June 30, 2014; or (2) the case is already pending as of June 30, 2014 and has been imaged by the court. You can read the entire notice here.

To kick of this exciting new phase, San Diego Superior Court co-hosted a training with One Legal in order to showcase the eFiling product and train users how to place an eFiling and eService transaction. Our Product Training & Research Manager, Lili Daniel, spearheaded the training. The Honorable Jude Earl Maas kicked off the event as he addressed the group of 28 attendees. He discussed the benefits of eFiling and how it will help the court process documents more effectively and efficiently.

Implementing eFiling in North County is simply the next step for San Diego Superior Court's eFiling implementation plan. You can currently eFile in the Central Civil Division and in Probate matters.

If you are interested in eFiling in San Diego and would like training, click here!

San Diego Superior Court

 

California Superior Court Updates Page: New Updates Posted

  
  
  

We've recently updated our page with items for Merced and San Diego Superior courts. Click here to take a look, especially if you have a court filing in one of those jurisdictions!

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Architect's rendering:  New Hollister Courthouse

We've also done a bit of clean up and removed many outdated items. If you have any questions about any items that have been removed, please email me at mschwartz@onelegal.com.

California Superior Court News: Additional Funding Coming?

  
  
  

In an article posted yesterday by The Recorder, Cheryl Miller wrote: “Over the objections of the governor's office, an Assembly subcommittee on Wednesday voted unanimously to bump the judiciary budget by $262.1 million in the upcoming 2014-15 fiscal year.”

Fantastic news, indeed!  Of course there is still some negotiating to be done so it’s not a done deal but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.   Apparently it was a bit of a surprise as the subcommittee’s agenda did not go into specifics and instead just noted a “discussion of judicial branch funding issues.” 

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Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez, D-Pomona

Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez made the surprise motion, with a catch:  no money can be spent on statewide computer projects (think CCMS).  That’s not a surprise in my mind as the legislature is wary of another CCMS-type debacle (at least that’s how some have characterized it).  Certainly there were some issues with the deployment of CCMS yet it’s important to remember that it is still being utilized in some courts, including the Superior Court of Orange County, with much success.  With that said, however, I agree that the legislature and the courts need to be cognizant of its limitations and continue to think outside the box for other options.

An analyst with the Department of Finance did object, citing the state’s ongoing emergence from the Great Recession.  The committee decided to vote without further discussion though.  Now the issue will go to a Senate committee, which according to Miller, is expected to support the move.  After that it will depend on how negotiations between the governor and legislative leaders go. 

I’ve been saying for quite some time now that it doesn’t seem right that one branch of the government can essentially gut another.  I know it’s not that simple yet to those not familiar with the inner-workings of the government, it is I believe.  After years of listening to judges speak on the impact this lack of funding has had, it’s gratifying to see things start to lean the other way. 

Thank you Assemblyman Rodriquez for taking this bold step!  Now, let’s hope the negotiations go well and that we see that much needed infusion of cash for our California courts.

No One Likes Rejection: Texas Supreme Court Defines eFiling Standards

  
  
  

Rejected eFilings are a source of frustration for many legal secretaries, paralegals and attorneys across Texas. The Texas Supreme Court has issued new standards for rejected filings from the courts.  In an article, posted on Mondaq.com by Tate Hemingson of Strasburger & Price, L.L.P., Hemingson describes the rejection frustration felt by many filers.  He goes on to explain how the recently approved rejection codes in the Texas Supreme Court Judicial Commitee on Information Technology Standards can offer some relief.

These new simplified rejection codes are to be used by the court clerks in their communication with the filer about a rejected filing. Improved communication about a rejection is what most filers are asking for from the courts. The new standards are made to ease the confusion and help filers understand what the court requires.Texas efiling rejected,attorney, paralegal

We aim to keep our customers aware of all the new standards and requirements from the courts as they are approved. For more information about the new technology standards and specific court requirements, visit our product training and resources page to download the Individual Court Requirements User Guide for Texas. 

And we invite you to learn more about the Texas eFiling rules and requirements, including the new technology standards, by visting our MCLE webinar page and signing up for "Do the Texas Two Step - efiling and eService in Texas", webinar offered every week through May.

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