E-Filing in Florida’s Appellate Courts: A Work in Progress
Can you guess which of Florida’s appellate courts is not like the others? If you handle criminal appeals on a regular basis, then you know that four out of five of Florida’s District Courts of Appeal are on eDCA, the electronic filing system begun by the 1st DCA a while ago: the First, Third, Fourth and Fifth DCA. But one of them stands alone: the Second DCA. While the other DCA’s opted to follow the course of the First DCA, and begin their foray into e-filing on eDCA, the Second is the only DCA to skip eDCA, and commence its foray into e-filing by jumping directly onto Florida’s Statewide e-filing Portal. (the Florida Supreme Court did this as well a few months ago). Today marked the first day of voluntary filing with the 2nd DCA through the Portal.
Have any of you tried filing with the 2d DCA through the Portal? I did. It leaves a lot to be desired. Don’t get me wrong, e-filing definitely beats having to send your briefs, motions, and responses via FedEx, followed by a courtesy copy by e-mail, but for some reason, the Portal does not seem to provide access to the court docket. To see the appellate docket, you still need to go to the “online dockets” link from the Portal website, or at any of the DCA webpages, and those dockets are not real-time. So in other words, you can submit something electronically, but it still won’t show up on the docket for several days. The other thing I don’t like is that when you’re filing through the Portal, you don’t get a time-stamped copy to reflect the time and date of your e-filing. Similar to the Federal CM/ECF system, the e-DCA system provides both of those functions.
If you are lucky enough to be in Federal court, then you get the ease of working with CM/ECF. In my view, CM/ECF is the best e-filing system there is because you get a real-time docket, time/date stamps on your e-filed pleadings, electronic confirmation of your successful filing, and automatic e-service of your pleadings on the other parties in the case (except pro se parties). E-DCA is a close second. Although e-DCA lacks electronic service, e-DCA at least provides you an e-mail alert that a pleading or order was filed in the case, and a link to view the document. Plus, e-DCA provides you with a real-time docket, time/date stamps on your e-filed pleadings, and electronic confirmation of your successful filing.
E-filing in Florida’s State courts is a work in progress. In the coming months, the First, Third, Fourth and Fifth DCA will all have to make the transition to the Statewide Portal, as will the rest of Florida’s trial courts. Hopefully, the Portal we have today is a work in progress, too.