E-Portal, EPortal, or e-Portal? None of the Above

Recently I have noticed significant confusion about what, exactly, to call the Florida Courts e-filing Portal.  Just check out this email from the “Florida Courts E-filing Portal Team.” I count 3 different names for the portal (emphasis added):

Subject: EPortal Upgrades


Dear E-Filing Portal Customer:

Portal Unavailable this Sunday, 9/16

The Florida Courts E-Filing Portal, www.myflcourtaccess.com, will be unavailable on Sunday, September 21, 2014 from 5 a.m. EDT to 11 p.m. EDT for system maintenance.  We apologize for this inconvenience. We strive to maintain our services with excellent security and system processes and this requires maintenance. Please contact the service desk at support@myflcourtaccess.com for further information.

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Florida Courts E-Filing Portal Team

Is it the Portal, EPortal, or E-Filing Portal? Attorneys seem to be just as confused.  Here are several recent Certificates of Service that I copied from documents I was served with:

I HEREBY CERTIFY that a true and correct copy of the foregoing was filed via the E-Portal which will electronically serve a copy to ______________ this 19th day of August, 2014.

I HEREBY CERTIFY that on this 15th day of August, 2014, a true and correct copy of the foregoing was served by the Court’s electronic noticing system to:

I HEREBY CERTIFY that a true and correct copy of the foregoing has been served electronically via the Florida Courts E-Filing Portal to all registered participants or by regular U.S. Mail to all nonparticipants, as designated below:

Despite the widespread confusion, the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, Rule 2.516(b)(1), actually provide the terms that can be used:

Service by Electronic Mail (“e-mail”). All documents required or permitted to be served on another party must be served by e-mail, unless this rule otherwise provides. When, in addition to service by e-mail, the sender also utilizes another means of service provided for in subdivision (b)(2), any differing time limits and other provisions applicable to that other means of service control. A filer of an electronic document has complied with this subdivision if the Florida Courts e-filing Portal (“Portal”) or other authorized electronic filing system with a supreme court approved electronic service system (“e-Service system”) served the document by e-mail or provided a link by e-mail to the document on a website maintained by a clerk (“e-Service”). The filer of an electronic document must verify that the Portal or other e-Service system uses the names and e-mail addresses provided by the parties pursuant to subdivision (b)(1)(A). (emphasis added).

While the rule provides for the term “e-Service system,” as far as I am aware, the Florida Supreme Court has not authorized the creation of some “other” electronic filing system.  Accordingly, we currently have  the “Florida Courts e-filing Portal” which  Rule 2.516(b)(1) provides may be referred to simply as the “Portal.”  Service by Electronic Mail (“e-mail”) is defined to include both service by e-mail and service through the “Portal.”  Since their is not currently an “e-Service system,” the term “e-Service” refers only to service via the “Portal.”   Note also the Florida Rules consistently use a lower case “e” when using the terms “e-mail,” “e-service,” and “e-filing.”

According to the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, there is no such thing as the “E-Portal.”


E-service change draws questions (Florida Bar News)

From the Florida Bar News:

A software upgrade on June 20 changed the ways parties are selected for the electronic service system,which is part of the portal when a document is filed.

Before the change, lawyers involved in a case could add parties for the e-service list. Everyone on the list automatically received an emailed copy of the filed document, unless the filing attorney (or the attorney’s staff performing the filing) went through the list to check off parties that would be omitted from getting the document.

Under the new system, automatic service is over. Attorneys must perform an extra step of checking a box that they want all parties served or go through the list and check which parties they want copied with the filed document — similar to what they did with paper filings. (Using the electronic service system is still voluntary and lawyers can continue to serve via email or regular mail.)

Read the full article: E-service change draws questions.  For the e-service rules see Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.516 Service of Pleadings and Documents.

E-filing: Amendments to Florida Rules of Judicial Administration

Last week, the Florida Supreme Court amended Florida Rules of Judicial Administration 2.515, 2.516, and 2.525.  These amendments are effective immediately.  Each of the amended rules has been updated on FloridaCivPro.com.

The amendment to Florida Rule of Judicial Administration Rule 2.515 clarifies and modifies the significance of an attorney’s signature on a document.  What does it mean when at attorney signs a document? Here is a refresher:

2.515(a) . . . The signature of an attorney shall constitute a certificate by the attorney that:
1. the attorney has read the document;
2. to the best of the attorney’s knowledge, information, and belief there is good ground to support the document;
3. the document is not interposed for delay; and
4. the document contains no confidential or sensitive information, or that any such confidential or sensitive information has been properly protected by complying with the provisions of rules 2.420 and 2.425.

The amendment to Rule 2.515 also clarifies and modifies what an attorney represents when she files and/or serves a document:

2.515(c)(2) By serving a document, or by filing a document by electronic transmission using an attorney’s assigned electronic filing credentials:

(A) that attorney certifies compliance with subdivision (a)(1) through (a)(4) and accepts responsibility for the document for all purposes under this rule;
(B) that attorney certifies compliance with all rules of procedure regarding service of the document on attorneys and parties;
(C) that attorney certifies that every person identified as a signer in the document as described in subdivision (c)(1)(C) has authorized such signature; and
(D) every signing attorney is as responsible for the document as if that document had been served by such signing attorney or filed using the assigned electronic filing credentials of such signing attorney.

The amendment to Florida Rule of Judicial Administration Rule 2.516 clarifies and modifies how to electronically serve a document through the e-filing portal.  In  short, if the e-portal automatically serves a party, you do not have to separately serve that party by e-mail.  This tracks the practice in federal court.  The e-filing attorney is responsible for ensuring that the names and correct email addresses of the parties to be served are in the e-portal.

The amendment to Florida Rule of Judicial Administration Rule 2.525 provides that, when e-filing a document, the credentials used to log in to the e-portal must be associated with the same attorney who signed the document; e.g., you cannot have attorney Arthur sign a document and then use attorney Betty’s username and password to sign-in to the e-portal when uploading the document for filing.  This does not prohibit attorney Betty, or attorney Betty’s secretary, from filing the document, but the login credentials used must belong to attorney Arthur.

In Re: Amendments to the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, Case No. SC13-1915 (Fla. Nov. 14, 2013)

Florida E-filing Problems

Question for our attorney readers: Are you having trouble with e-filing?

Ever since the switch, I have had numerous delays with the clerk processing basic matters.  For instance, in one recent case in Miami-Dade, it took the Clerk of Court 12 days to issue Summons.  I have seen similar delays in Pinellas and in Orange County.  The time it takes to get clerk’s defaults entered has also risen significantly.  In a few cases, e-filed documents seem to be stuck in e-purgatory – the website reports that a new Complaint or other filing has been pending for weeks without the clerk accepting it for filing.

If you have been having trouble with e-filing, let us know in the comments.