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County Clerk Nancy Sunshine explains e-filing at Brooklyn Bar CLE session

June 27, 2016 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Kings County Clerk Nancy T. Sunshine recently hosted an E-Filing Continuing Legal Education seminar at the Brooklyn Bar Association. Pictured from left: James Blain, Hon. Nancy T. Sunshine, Craig Schatzman and Joseph Leddo. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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The Brooklyn Bar Association’s Computer Technology Committee invited Kings County Clerk Nancy T. Sunshine to host a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminar called “Litigation Made Simple: E-Filing in Kings County” in Brooklyn Heights on Thursday.

During the hour-long discussion, Sunshine was joined by James Blain and Craig Schatzman from the County Clerk’s Office and Joseph Leddo, a senior court clerk in the Kings County Supreme Court.

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E-Filing, or electronic filing of court documents, is becoming more common and, in fact, is mandatory in some cases. In Kings County, E-Filing has been mandatory on all commercial cases for a couple years and was just made mandatory in tort cases since March 21, 2016.

Unrepresented litigants are the only exception. They can use the E-Filing system, but are opted out by default. Otherwise, attorneys must be able to prove that they don’t have or don’t know how to use a computer to avoid mandatory E-Filing.

As with any technology, there are plenty of early adopters and there are those who struggle to adjust and Thursday’s event was helpful to those two groups and everyone in between. Schatzman and Blain spent time going step-by-step through the E-Filing website to explain how the processed worked for the unfamiliar, and the entire group took more specific questions from attorneys who have used to system, but still had issues.

A lot of the questions during the CLE session surrounded “hybrid cases” — cases that have started by using paper filing but eventually use E-Filing.

“If you started a case out of E-Filing and you want to bring the case to E-File, there is a form on the E-File website, a stipulation,” Schatzman said. “If everyone stipulates to bringing the case to E-File, it will become an E-File case, and everything moving forward will be E-File.”

A few people wanted to know what to do when the system fails — either because of a personal computer glitch on the attorney’s end, or when the E-Filing website itself is down. In some cases, extensions can be granted, but Sunshine warned that technological problems, whatever they are, don’t nullify deadlines legally set by the Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPRL).

“It’s very rare, but like all technology, sometimes it goes down,” Sunshine said. “You’ll get an alert from the E-Filing system saying we are down, and under the rules, there is an extension of time to file things. But those technical rules can’t change the CPLR. Your statute of limitations is your statute of limitations and your notice of appeal is your notice of appeal.

“If there is a provision of the law that cannot be extended, E-Filing being down or a technical problem in your office will not excuse a late file,” Sunshine continued. “That’s why we have hard copies.”

Sunshine also wanted to make clear that any attorneys having issues with the E-Filing system should contact her office.

“E-Filing exists under the law, but there is an advisory committee on E-Filing and both myself and Charles Small are on the committee,” Sunshine said. “If you have suggestions that are better, you should let us know. If it’s something that requires a statutory or rule change, the vehicle for that is through the advisory committee.”

Attorneys looking for more information about E-Filing or how to use it are encouraged to consult the User’s Manual and the FAQs available at the NYSCEF website, www.nycourts.gov/efile.

 


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