Friday, August 4, 2017

E-filing system at Supreme Court will make new filings accessible for free

E-filing system at Supreme Court will make new filings accessible for free

ABA Journal
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Posted August 3, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Thursday that it is adopting an electronic filing system beginning Nov. 13.

The system will make "virtually all new filings" available to the public at no cost, the Supreme Court said in its announcement. The National Law Journal (sub. req.) has a story.

Initially, official filing of documents will continue to be on paper, but parties represented by lawyers will also have to submit electronic versions. Those without lawyers will have their documents scanned by court personnel and made available to the public.

The announcement follows the rollout of the Supreme Court’s redesigned website on July 28. Helpful changes include information about cases being argued on particular days and etiquette information for court visitors, according to a previous National Law Journal story (sub. req.).

Fix The Court, a Supreme Court transparency advocate, reacted to the electronic filing announcement in a statement: "Most federal appeals courts have required electronic filing for years, so I’m pleased the Supreme Court has finally joined its institutional counterparts by implementing this policy," executive director Gabe Roth said.

Roth also said he hopes the change will lead to other improvements, such as live audio for oral arguments and a software-based conflict check system. Read online

Most often, the US Supreme Court grants or denies petitions to hear a case after reviewing a written request called a "petition for writ of certiorari". Also called "the writ of cert", it is reviewed by the Justices and granting the petition depends on whether or not it passes "the rule of four". If it does, the case is probably one of three types: a case of national importance, a case in which a lower court decision has invalidated federal law, or a case involving a split decision in lower courts. Famously, Bush v. Gore was an example of national importance, Gonzales v. Raich was a case in which a lower court invalidated federal law, and Obergefell v. Hodges was selected by the Court in order to resolve a circuit split decision. By following this protocol of case selection, the Court has been designed to be reactive to legislative decisions made in other branches of government, as opposed to an active legislative body that seeks to create and institute new laws. Overall, the result of this design is a Court that prioritizes case selections that will enable them to enforce the uniformity of federal law throughout the country.

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