eFiling now available in all 87 Minnesota district courts
Posted: Tuesday, December 15, 2015
The Minnesota Judicial Branch has reached a major milestone in its historic transition from paper-based court files to electronic case records.
Yesterday, the district courts in Chisago and Isanti counties began allowing court users to electronically file and serve documents through an online portal. Following implementation in these two district courts, electronic filing and service of court documents is now available in all 87 district courts in the state. Electronic filing is also available in the state’s appellate courts.
The move to electronic filing and service of case documents – known as eFiling and eService – is part of eCourtMN, an initiative of the Minnesota Judicial Branch. Through eCourtMN, the Minnesota Judicial Branch is working to make Minnesota’s justice system more accessible, more efficient, and more convenient for court customers by transitioning to electronic case records. The University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs recognized eCourtMN with a State Government Innovation Award in 2014.
One of the key elements of eCourtMN is the establishment of eFiling and eService – giving case participants the ability to submit documents to the court and serve documents to opposing parties electronically, through an online portal. This allows court customers to file documents without traveling to the courthouse or paying for postage or courier costs, allows filers to submit documents immediately and outside of courthouse business hours, and allows court documents to be sent to filers electronically.
“Our transition to electronic case records has been rightly called the largest transformation in the 150-year history of Minnesota’s Judicial Branch,” said Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea. “Through eCourtMN, we are producing new efficiencies in our justice system, making it easier for our users to complete their business with the courts, and expanding on-demand access to information for the public and our justice partners. Making eFiling and eService available across the state is a huge step in this transformation, and we’re pleased to be offering this valuable service to all our customers.”
Over the past several years, the Minnesota Judicial Branch pilot-tested eFiling and eService in 11 district courts across the state, including the district courts in Cass, Clay, Cook, Dakota, Faribault, Hennepin, Kandiyohi, Lake, Morrison, Ramsey, and Washington counties. Based on the success of that pilot, electronic filing and service became mandatory for attorneys, government agencies, guardians ad litem, and sheriffs filing documents in those 11 pilot courts on July 1, 2015.
In late September, the Minnesota Judicial Branch began expanding the availability of eFiling and eService to the other 76 district courts in the state. The Judicial Branch implemented a 12-week rollout plan
, bringing new district courts onto the system in regional groups. The statewide rollout was completed as scheduled.
In the 76 non-pilot courts, use of the eFiling and eService is optional for all filers through June 30, 2016. This means filers will still be able to file documents using the traditional, paper-based method. Under recent amendments
to Minnesota’s court rules, use of the eFiling and eService system will become mandatory for attorneys, government agencies, guardians ad litem, and sheriffs in all district courts statewide on July 1, 2016. Use of the eFiling and eService system will remain optional for other filers, such as self-represented litigants.
In addition to electronic filing and service of court documents, eCourtMN includes a wide array of projects that are utilizing new technologies to increase efficiency and expand access to information throughout Minnesota’s justice system. This includes:
- Providing judges and court staff with new electronic tools to more efficiently review and process court documents within the courthouse.
- Creating an electronic portal for government partners – such as law enforcement, prosecutors, and public defenders – to more efficiently access court documents and records.
- Making it easier and more convenient for the public to view electronic court records from across the state at their local courthouse. Longer term, the Minnesota Judicial Branch aims to provide online access to most public court documents.
- Partnering with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to expand use of electronic citations (eCitations) and other charging documents (eCharging). These tools allow law enforcement and prosecutors to file citations and complaints electronically, from their office or squad car, with the data automatically transferred to court and law enforcement databases. Use of eCharging and eCitations will become mandatory for adult complaints and adult citations statewide on July 1, 2016.
“Over the past decade, the Minnesota Judicial Branch has been engaged in an ambitious redesign effort aimed at making our justice system more efficient, increasing centralization and cooperation among our courts, and harnessing new technology to improve our service to the public,” said State Court Administrator Jeff Shorba. “Our transition to electronic case records is at the center of these efforts, and bringing eFiling and eService to district courts across the state is a great accomplishment for the Branch, and a great benefit to our customers and users.”
The Minnesota Judicial Branch has posted informational resources, training materials, and a three-step guide to starting eFiling and eService at www.mncourts.gov/eFile
. The Minnesota Judicial Branch also operates an eFile Support Center
for filers with questions about the eFile and eServe system.