Orange County Superior Court has released new requirements for Civil and Probate matters.The first change pertains to sealed documents for civil cases. To ensure proper processing of sealed documents, please be sure to select the filing name "Sealed Document" when eFiling a transaction under seal.
Pursuant to California Rules of Court 2.551, documents must clearly state in the caption "Conditionally Under Seal" or "Sealed by Order of the Court (Date)". If you fail to correctly label your document as under seal, your information may be compromised.T
The second change is for Probate matters. Beginning July 1, 2014, all Probate 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 Application as an eFiling, you must select "Ex Parte" as the lead document name. If you do not do so, your documents may not be considered in a timely fashion.
You can always contact our Training team with any questions you might have! You can also sign up for an Orange County eFiling training if you need further instruction or if you would like to earn MCLE credit. All of our training courses are free of charge!
Another day, another round of bad news for the California Courts. In totally depressing but completely predictable news, Shasta Superior Court announced that it has given out more than a dozen layoff notices. And, surprise surprise, officials state that it is the result of state budget cuts along with a recently enacted law which eliminated "rainy day funds" for trial courts.
KRCR News reported that last week, 14 court employees learned their last day of work will be September 25. This rouned of layoffs along with the layoff of 12 temporary employees before the 2014-15 fiscal year began and the freezing of 18 vacant full-time positions, the total number of positions recently impacted is now 44.
"In the past two fiscal years, where we tried to set aside money to get through the recession, the ability to do that was eliminated as of June 30, 2014," said Shasta County Court Executive Officer Melissa Fowler-Bradley.
Fowler-Bradley also said the layoffs are coming at a time of a rise in criminal cases, which is stretching the court thin and preventing them from effectively handling non-mandatory work.
"We have fewer staff to deal with other case types like small claims matters or family law matters or probate matters or adoptions or all of the other case types we process," Fowler-Bradley said, "I have fewer people in order to serve the public on everything other than criminal."
According to court officials, this latest round of layoffs may just be the beginning. There might be even more jobs lost when the next budget cycle comes around.
Despite hopes that perhaps this fiscal year would produce more money for California courts, it's beginning to look bleak once again. there are talks of furlough days and further layoffs for courts throughout the state. This will lead to longer lines at the courthouse, fewer clerks at the filing counter, and further backlog for your filings.
This news follows on the heels of the Judicial Council's announcement that they will be considering a plan for improving court technology.
How have you been affected by court closures and staff layoffs?
The Judicial Council will consider a recommendation from its Technology Committee on a strategic plan for court technology at its public meeting on August 21–22. If the council approves the proposed plan, it will provide a structure and roadmap for technology initiatives and increase the transparency and accountability of how funds are managed for technology projects in the judicial branch.
The committee received input on the plan from presiding judges, court executive officers, court information officers, the Legislature, and the Governor's administration. It was also posted online for public comment.
This news is timely as One Legal just announced the launch of our OneLegal Labs, which promotes technological innovation and creativity in a changing legal world. The incubator works with technologists, legal industry experts, and creative product engineers to address technology gaps and inefficiencies within law firms and courts.
The Judicial Council's proposed plan includes strategies for gradual implementation and a roadmap for funding this project. Some of the goals of the plan include the following:
Goal 1: Promote the Digital Court
The judicial branch will increase access to the courts, administer timely and efficient justice, gain case processing efficiencies, and improve public safety by establishing a foundation for the Digital Court throughout California. The Digital Court includes a comprehensive set of services for interaction with the courts, and for collaboration with branch justice partners.
Goal 2: Optimize Branch Resources
The judicial branch will maximize the potential and efficiency of its technology resources by fully supporting existing and future required infrastructure and assets, and leveraging branch wide information technology resources through procurement, collaboration, communication, and education.
Goal 3: Optimize Infrastructure
The judicial branch will leverage and support a reliable and secure technology infrastructure. It will ensure continual investment in existing infrastructure and exploration of consolidated and shared computing where appropriate.
Goal 4: Promote Rule and Legislative Changes
The judicial branch will drive modernization of statutes, rules, and procedures to facilitate use of technology in court operations and delivery of court services.
The council’s two-day public business meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 21, from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Friday, August 22, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:50 p.m., at the Judicial Council Conference Center, Hiram Johnson State Office Building, Third Floor, Ronald M. George State Office Complex, 455 Golden Gate Avenue in San Francisco. A live audiocast of the meeting will be on the California Courts website, and the agenda and council reports are posted online.
What type of technology would you like to see the courts begin to implement?
Let's face it. The legal industry is changing with the times. More and more courts are looking at the efficiency and cost effectiveness of eFiling. Firms are dismantling their paper files and catalouging case files online, as well as utilizing eDiscovery tools and eService. One Legal has always been a pioneer in the legal industry, from being the first attorney service to fax file a document back in 1990 to becoming the first true eFiling Service Provider to implement an electronic gateway between us and a CCMS court in Orange County. It only makes sense that we continue to evolve, which is why we are pleased to announce the launch of our newest endeavor, OneLegal Labs!
OneLegal Labs launches this week with plans to tackle the greatest challenges in the legal industry. The incubator works with technologists, legal industry experts, and creative product engineers to address technology gaps and inefficiencies within law firms and courts. Leading the incubator is Noah Aron, General Manager of One Legal.
"We’re building an ecosystem that helps democratize access to justice and going forward I don’t believe you necessarily need a JD to solve that riddle," said Aron. “For us it comes down to approaching the legal industry’s greatest challenges with the customer’s needs at heart."
One Legal has always strived to create products that meet our customer's needs and exceed their expectations. With that in mind, OneLegal Labs will initially function as an incubator assisting law school students and attorneys with opportunities to collaborate with product and engineering teams. The lab will help validate, develop, and deploy legal technology applications and give attorneys and law school students the entrepreneurial tools they need to launch their own applications.
To kickoff the launch of this exciting new edeavor, OneLegal Labs partnered with LegalTech Startup Weekend on August 15-17 at Airbnb HQ in San Francisco, to help identify passionate teams of lawyers, technologists, and students with amazing solutions to the industry’s greatest challenges. The winning team has the opportunity to spend one month at OneLegal Lab, working with product, engineering, and legal teams to build and release a prototype.
Register today for this fun and innovative event! You'll get to interact with other legal professionals looking to think outside the box, generate new ideas, and be rewarded for your creativity.
Follow OneLegal Labs on Twitter to keep up on all of the latest news, developments and innovative technology!
What is your law firm doing to promote creativity in a changing industry?
Court filings in the California superior courts have decreased for the last two fiscal years. There were 7.7 million case filings this fiscal year (2012-2013), which is a 9.7 percent decrease from the previous year. Most of this decline occurred in limited jurisdiction cases, which include misdemeanors, criminal infractions, small claims and limited civil cases. However, certain complex case types such as felonies, probate and mental health cases, personal injury and wrongful death matters increased instead. Despite this increase in particular case types, there was a 6 percent overall decrease in unlimited civil cases this year.
“The trend in court filings is worrisome,” said Justice Douglas Miller, chair of the Judicial Council’s Executive and Planning Committee. “It coincides with two other trends that have occurred as result of budget cuts to the judicial branch: the increase in court filing fees to offset General Fund budget cuts and closure of courthouses and/or the reduction of hours at our courthouses. It’s something that we in the judicial branch are very concerned about.”
The decline in court filings is just another concern in the already troublesome court budget crisis. Courts across the state have been forced to close branches, lay off staff and reduce operating hours. Solano Superior Court just announced their own bad news for this fiscal year, and a judge for the Los Angeles Superior Court has warned that current spending is unsustainable. California Governor Jerry Brown has promised additional funding for the courts, but Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye has stated that although it is a step in the right direction, it is still not enough.
Click here to read more about the decrease in court filings.
It might be the long lines, the staff reduction, the branch closures, or the reduction in hours that led to this decline in filing. In light of this news, what do you think is contributing to the overall decline in court filings?
We've recently updated our page with items for Los Angeles (requirements for declarations and exhibits, new online court reservation sytems for Chatsworth and Norwalk), Santa Barbara (upcoming closure) and Santa Clara (upcoming closure) Superior courts.
Click here to take a look, especially if you have a court filing in one of those jurisdictions!
Photo credit: khawkins04
Just when you thought getting a jury duty summons was bad enough!
A federal court in Pennsylvania reports that citizens have been contacted fraudulently for jury service in an attempt to gather personal information.
A concerned citizen contacted the federal court in the Western District of Pennsylvania with an alarming story. This individual received an email as part of a nationwide scam operation targeting prospective jurors in the federal courts.
The email was generated from the "National eJuror Program". It directs the recipient to respond to a summons for grand and petit jury service, where it requires that the prospective juror fill out a form with personal information, including date of birth, Social Security number and even mother's maiden name.
Courthouse officials confirmed that this email is not from the court and is an attempt to gain personal information from those targeted individuals.
At least seven other U.S. courts around the country received similar reports from citizens in their jurisdictions who received the emails. The courts do not know where the sender is obtaining the names and contact information of these individuals. The federal court system has recently warned about a similar scam in which citizens have been targeted by phone calls and threatened with prosecution for failing to comply with jury service. Those calls have also requested personal data.
Have you received any suspicious emails or calls regarding jury service?
We've recently updated our page with items for Alameda, Riverside & Solano Superior courts. Click here to take a look, especially if you have a court filing in one of those jurisdictions!
Photo credit: khawkins04
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!
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.
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:
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 email@example.com to request in-person group training at your firm or office.