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Nancy Sunshine returns to the Bay Ridge Lawyers Association for updates on e-filing

June 4, 2018 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Bay Ridge Lawyers Association held their last monthly meeting of the season where Hon. Nancy T. Sunshine (left), county clerk and commissioner of jurors, held a continuing legal education seminar on e-filing. Also pictured is Stephen Spinelli, immediate past president; and Margaret Stanton, president of the the association. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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Hon. Nancy Sunshine, the county clerk, clerk of Supreme Court and commissioner of jurors, was back at the Bay Ridge Lawyers Association last Wednesday for an update on a continuing legal education lecture that she gave two years ago on e-filing.

This most recent lecture was titled “What Does the CPLR, E-filing, and the First Amendment Have in Common?”

“We’re very fortunate that commissioner Sunshine agreed to be here for our final meeting of the year,” said Dominic Famular, CLE director for the Bay Ridge Lawyers. “Our last meeting is always very important and we like to have a preeminent speaker for this meeting. The commissioner more than fulfills that.”

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So what exactly do civil practice law and rules, e-filing and the First Amendment have in common? According to Sunshine, a lot.

“All three impact how I, as county clerk, do my job,” said Commissioner Sunshine. “Frankly, it also impacts the lawyers here and judges as well. The First Amendment requires that the press and the public have access to court records.”

Commissioner Sunshine discussed a case involving Courthouse News, which sued the government about getting immediate and contemporaneous access to court records. The case challenged how New York State Courts Electronic Filing System was initially designed where a case was not immediately available until it was manually filed by the Clerk’s Office.

Courthouse News brought stats documenting delays, and so a preliminary injunction was brought against Milton Tingling and NYSCEF was then changed so that the minute a pleading is filed in e-filing it is available to the whole world even before the issue of an index number and before the county clerk gets to review it.

“That’s an example of how the First Amendment has impacted what a county clerk does, how e-filing has changed, and lawyers need to know that because if you have a case where that may be a problem, and the law authorizes that there should be some delay before that filing, you can’t e-file. You have to do a hard copy file.”

Sunshine also reminded attorneys that despite the fact that e-filing is a 24/7 system, her office is only open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

“I just want people to remember that if they have something that is particularly time sensitive, like a notice of appeal or a statute of limitations, if you go to file that at 11 at night, a storm comes through and the NYSCEF system goes down then you have a problem,” she warned.

The Bay Ridge Lawyers have no more monthly meetings until after the summer. It will host its annual dinner on Friday, June 22 at Casa Belvedere in Staten Island where President Margaret Stanton will be honored.


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