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Kansas Supreme Court amends court rules to accommodate mandatory electronic filing in all courts effective June 25, 2018

The Kansas Supreme Court also announced changes to notice of electronic filing and policy direction on when an electronically filed document is deemed accepted

TOPEKA—The Kansas Supreme Court announced on Thursday, May 10, that it has amended two rules to facilitate the requirement that all attorneys must electronically file documents in all state courts effective June 25, 2018. The requirement applies to all Kansas-licensed attorneys who are permitted to practice law under Rule 208(a), and it applies to all case types processed by Kansas courts. Self-represented parties will continue to file paper documents.

"Electronic filing has been required in the appellate courts since November 2015, and many judicial districts have mandated efiling as well," said Chief Justice Lawton Nuss. "This statewide mandate is an important step in our move toward centralized case management, which is part of our Kansas eCourt initiative, and the standardization that will come with it."

To advance the efiling requirement, the Supreme Court amended two rules for district courts:

Supreme Court Rule 119: Fax Filing and Service by Fax. This amended rule requires a Kansas licensed attorney to follow the provisions of Rule 122 when filing any document with a district court.

Supreme Court Rule 122: Electronic Filing and Service by Electronic Means. This amended rule requires a Kansas-licensed attorney who is permitted to practice law under Rule 208(a) to electronically file documents in the district courts, unless there is a failure of the filing attorney's technology.

Other amendments address electronic service, certificates of service, and filings made untimely if an efiling system is unavailable.

Notice of Electronic Filing:  The Supreme Court also authorized modifying the notice of electronic filing generated by the Kansas Courts eFiling system to include a link that allows an attorney of record to directly access an electronically filed document. Currently, the notice of electronic filing alerts the attorney in a case that a document has been electronically filed, and the attorney must log in to the Kansas Courts eFiling system to access the document.

Once the enhancement is in place, the notice of electronic filing will include a link to the document if an unsealed document is electronically filed in the Kansas Courts eFiling system. If the document is sealed, the attorney will need to log in to the Kansas Courts eFiling system to access the document. The enhancement to the notice of electronic filing is expected to be in place by fall, and attorneys will be notified as soon as it is available.

Documents Deemed Accepted on Submission:  The Supreme Court also decided to work toward implementing policy that a document is deemed accepted as soon as it is filed, and it is immediately available for review, unless it is subject to an exception, such as a sealed document. Implementation of this policy is expected to coincide with the Kansas judicial branch's transition to a new centralized case management system.

Attorneys Encouraged to Sign-up to Electronically File:   Attorneys who have yet to start filing electronically are encouraged to visit the Kansas Courts Electronic Filing web page on the judicial branch website to register to efile, access training videos, and enroll in webinars. Since electronic filing's inception in Kansas courts in 2013, more than 4.4 million documents have been efiled in district and appellate courts. Currently, 24 judicial districts representing 79 counties require attorneys to efile in some or all case types. The remaining seven judicial districts representing 26 counties accept documents filed electronically but do not require it. Of the 11,700 Kansas-licensed attorneys who are registered as active, more than 6,000 have registered to efile. Some attorneys may never efile if they do not litigate in Kansas state courts.

Mandatory efiling important step toward centralized case management:  Mandatory electronic filing is an important step toward centralized case management, which will allow all district and appellate case data to reside on a single web-based platform and transform the way the state court system serves the people of Kansas.

The primary goals of centralized case management are to:

-Improve case processing in the district and appellate courts. Increase the efficiency of information delivery to district and appellate court judges.

-Increase operational efficiency and effectiveness through automating certain activities and streamlining other operations. Improve data quality and integrity. Improve performance measurement, analysis, and reporting through enhanced information collection, storage, retrieval, and analysis.

-Enable work sharing between district courts, primarily among clerks and court services.

-Maintain and improve data sharing between various governmental and public entities.  

-Maintain and improve the ability to process electronic payments.

-Enable web-based sharing of public information.

As a result of action by the 2014 Legislature, the centralized case management project is funded by a portion of the docket fees collected by the courts. The conversion to the centralized case management system is expected to take three to four years. The order in which courts will be brought onto the new system is described in the fact sheet Kansas eCourt: Statewide Rollout Plan. 

Mary Shultz