Expanded e-filing makes Florida courts accessible to public, saves money

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To the average citizen, Florida’s court system moves at a snail’s pace, frustrating for both attorneys and those unfamiliar with the legal process. In addition, for those facing legal actions, attorney, filing and mailing costs can add up quickly, and at a time when the stakes are highest, delays only make things worse.

Sometimes the problem is paperwork that’s lost in the mail, missed communications or some other situation delaying the process unexpectedly.

Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers announced this week that they will make the state’s legal system more accessible by extending the Florida Courts E-Filing Portal to the public — a system that had been in operation since 2011 and already a success with attorneys — for voluntarily filing documents starting Saturday, June 21.

An online portal for electronically filing a range of documents is a major step in streamlining the Florida legal system, something that could also save the public millions of dollars in both legal and postage fees.

Soon, both laypeople and legal professionals can electronically file court documents at www.myflcourtaccess.com

“We are pleased to report that since the inception of the Florida Courts E-Filing Portal we have experienced great success with accepting court documents electronically,” said Sarasota Clerk of Court Karen Rushing, legislative chair of Florida’s Court Clerks & Comptrollers.  “Attorneys across the state are sending notices to other parties through the Portal at the rate of more than 3 million a month.  This feature is saving the legal profession and their clients approximately $20 million a year in postage costs.”

The Florida Courts E-Filing Authority will also create a service desk to assist filers and Clerks offices with e-filing, expanding a project successfully implemented earlier this year.

Not only does the new online process make the legal system more convenient for the public, but it also goes to streamline court filings and communications between attorneys, who can then pass on the savings to customers.

Lawyers will also receive help in learning the system, with online training sessions provided by the E-Filing Portal Service Desk and Florida Bar.  So far, nearly 60,000 Florida Bar members have accounts, which allow them to file electronically through the Portal.

“We are excited that the public will be able to begin submitting documents electronically through the Portal on a voluntary basis starting June 21,” Palm Beach County Clerk of Court and Florida Courts E-Filing Authority Pro Se Committee Chair Sharon Bock.  “This will be a convenience and streamlined way for these documents to be added to our local case maintenance system and the ease of this delivery system will be of great benefit to the public.”

“This E-Filing Portal project would not have been possible if it weren’t for the collaborative efforts of the Clerks, Courts under the leadership of Chief Justice Polston and the Legislature,” said Putnam County Clerk of Court and Florida Courts E-Filing Authority Board Chair Tim Smith.  “We commend these parties on their efforts and are pleased with the progress we’ve made since January 2011.  As we continue down this path, we look forward to continuing to increase the Portal’s efficiency, giving Clerks the opportunity to focus on customer service for the public.”

To access the E-Filing Portal for the Florida courts, users can visit www.myflcourtaccess.com for statewide electronic access, as well as transmitting court records. For more information on the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers, please visit www.flclerks.com.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.