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State’s push for mandatory e-filing could be in limbo (UPDATE)

By: Erika Strebel, [email protected]//February 9, 2015//

State’s push for mandatory e-filing could be in limbo (UPDATE)

By: Erika Strebel, [email protected]//February 9, 2015//

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Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed 2015-17 budget denied the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s request for $2.1 million to implement statewide e-filing.

The request included pay for eight staff members who would aid in the e-filing transition.

The state’s chief judges committee in November filed a petition to mandate e-filing in all circuit court cases starting in January 2016. The state Supreme Court is set to hold a public hearing March 17 on the proposal.

According to an email attributed to Tom Sheehan, court information officer, there is still hope the request will be approved, since the Legislature has not yet approved Walker’s proposed budget.

“Courts throughout the country are finding that electronic filing makes it easier for everyone involved in a case, from judges and lawyers to litigants and law firms, to get their work done more timely and with less hassle,” according to Sheehan’s email. “We need to make this investment to improve the way business is handled in our courts and to set ourselves up for long-term savings.”

According to an email attributed to Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick, the budget proposal gives the Supreme Court additional money and flexibility.

“The Governor’s budget gives the Supreme Court more flexibility by consolidating their GPR appropriations into a single appropriation, while also removing various exemptions to court fees to provide additional revenue and exempting them from a state lapse of funds,” according to the email. “These measures will allow the Supreme Court to fund their priorities, which could include mandatory e-filing.”

According to a report released in August by a State Bar subcommittee that studied e-filing, just 25 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties use some sort of e-filing, and between 2009 and 2013, less than 1 percent of all small claims, civil and family cases were filed electronically. A call to Fond du Lac County Circuit Court Judge Robert Wirtz, who led that subcommittee, was not immediately returned.

The Board of Governors, which leads the Wisconsin State Bar, at its Jan. 30 meeting had agreed to back the petition for mandatory e-filing. Board of Governors President Bob Gagan said that the bar is encouraging members to contact their legislators and encourage them to support e-filing.

“The state bar will work with the court to address this issue moving forward,” he said.


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