Court invites public comment on rule amendments that advance efiling mandate

TOPEKA — The Kansas Supreme Court announced that it will require attorneys to begin electronically filing documents in all state courts effective June 25, 2018, and that it is taking public comment on rule amendments that advance the efiling requirement.

The requirement applies to all Kansas-licensed attorneys who are permitted to practice law under Rule 208(a), and it applies to all case types processed by Kansas courts. Self-represented parties will continue to file paper documents.

"Electronic filing has been required in the appellate courts since November 2015, and many judicial districts have mandated efiling as well," said Chief Justice Lawton Nuss. "This statewide mandate is an important step in our move toward centralized case management, which is part of our Kansas eCourt initiative, and the standardization that will come with it."

Proposed amended rules open for comment

To advance the efiling requirement, the Supreme Court is proposing amendments to two rules for district courts:

* Supreme Court Rule 119: Fax Filing and Service. Proposed amendments would no longer allow document filing by fax from Kansas-licensed attorneys who are subject to the efiling requirement in Rule 122.

* Supreme Court Rule 122: Electronic Filing and Transmission of District Court Documents. Proposed amendments include the requirement for electronic filing by Kansas-licensed attorneys who are permitted to practice law under Rule 208(a). Other amendments address electronic service, certificates of service, and filings made untimely if an efiling system is unavailable.

Proposed amended rules are available on the Kansas judicial branch website at www.kscourts.org under What's New.

The court is accepting comment on the rule amendments until 5 p.m. Monday, January 22, 2018. Comments will be accepted by email to publiccomments@kscourts.org with either Rule 119 or Rule 122 in the subject line. Commenters must address each proposed amended rule individually rather than combine comments for both rules in a single email.

Attorneys who have yet to start filing electronically are encouraged to visit the Kansas Courts Electronic Filing web page on the judicial branch website to register to efile, access training videos and enroll in webinars.

Since electronic filing's inception in Kansas courts in 2013, more than 4.4 million documents have been efiled in district and appellate courts. Currently, 24 judicial districts representing 79 counties require attorneys to efile in some or all case types. The remaining seven judicial districts representing 26 counties accept documents filed electronically but do not require it.

Of the 11,700 Kansas-licensed attorneys who are registered as active, more than 6,000 have registered to efile. Some attorneys may never efile if the positions they hold do not involve litigation in state courts.

Mandatory efiling important step toward centralized case management

Mandatory electronic filing is an important step toward centralized case management, which will allow all district and appellate case data to reside on a single web-based platform and transform the way the state court system serves the people of Kansas.

The primary goals of centralized case management are to:

* Improve case processing in the district and appellate courts.

* Increase the efficiency of information delivery to district and appellate court judges.

* Increase operational efficiency and effectiveness through automating certain activities and streamlining other operations.

* Improve data quality and integrity.

* Improve performance measurement, analysis, and reporting through enhanced information collection, storage, retrieval, and analysis.

* Enable work sharing between district courts, primarily among clerks and court services

* Maintain and improve data sharing between various governmental and public entities.

* Maintain and improve the ability to process electronic payments.

* Enable web-based sharing of public information.

The 2014 Legislature established the Electronic Filing and Case Management Fund with deposits from docket fees dedicated to finalizing the efiling project and implementing centralized case management under the Supreme Court's eCourt plan.

The conversion to the centralized case management system is expected to take three to four years. Once the system is designed and completed, it will be launched in pilot courts before a statewide rollout.