Five Quick Tips for E-Filing in the Appeals Court.
The Appeals Court is Paperless. Mostly.
Recognizing the efficiency and other interests served by e-filing (not to mention the savings in space and trees), in February 2015, the Supreme Judicial Court issued an order authorizing the Appeals Court (and certain other courts) to conduct e-filing pilot projects.
Even before that, the Appeals Court required e-filing of some documents and motions, but briefs, appendices and some other documents still had to be filed the old fashioned way.
But in March 2016, the Appeals Court entered the digital era with full scale e-filing capability and requirements. Following the SJC's order, the Appeals Court issued an Order Concerning Electronic Filing PILOT project to commence registration for and e-filing in the Appeals Court, and along with it, Interim Electronic Filing Rules.
There is a lot to know. Here are five tips to get you started.
1. To e-file, you have to register through Massachusetts Odyssey File and Serve, set up and run by Tyler Technology, third party vendor. Each firm must register and each attorney/filer must be added to the account. Directions are available here.
2. You can e-file almost everything you had to paper file before, including briefs, appendices, docketing statements, motions, Rule 16(l) letters, and much more. It cost $7 per transaction ("envelope") and e-filing counts as service on opposing counsel registered for e-filing (by registering, you automatically consent to receiving court notices only by email and service of all e-filed documents only electronically through Odyssey). You do not need to file paper versions of these documents unless the Court tells you to.
3. E-filing is only for civil cases. You cannot e-file in criminal cases. You also cannot e-file impounded material or in impounded cases.
4. The Appeals Court website has many resources to help you with e-filing. A good place to start is the E-filing FAQs. There, under Firm Set Up And Administration, you will find PDFs with screen shots showing each step of the Odyssey registration process. You will also find all of the following (and more):
*Directions for bates labeling documents in Adobe (just to make
numbering your appendices easier)
5. When in doubt, get technical help. But do not call the clerk's office with technical questions. Call Tyler Support (1-800-297-5377). You can also contact them by email or live chat from within the Odyssey system by clicking on the "Contact Us" button in the "Help" section. From personal experience, they are responsive and on point.
E-filing is here. No more need - in public civil cases anyway - for color covers, copies upon copies, or worrying about velo binding versus rings. It's a good thing.