District court eFiling expanding to 20 counties in central, western Minnesota

During the second week of December, 20 district courts across central and western Minnesota will begin offering court users the ability to electronically file and serve court documents through an online portal.

During the second week of December, 20 district courts across central and western Minnesota will begin offering court users the ability to electronically file and serve court documents through an online portal.

The move to electronic filing and service of case documents - known as eFiling and eService - is part of the Minnesota Judicial Branch's eCourtMN initiative, which is transforming the state's court system by replacing paper-based court files with an electronic information environment. The goal of the eCourtMN initiative-which received a 2014 State Government Innovation Award from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs-is to make the state's court system more accessible, more efficient, and more convenient for court customers.

One of the key elements of the eCourtMN initiative is the establishment of eFiling and eService-giving case participants the ability to submit documents to the court and serve documents on opposing parties electronically, through an online portal. This allows court customers to file documents without traveling to the courthouse or paying for postage or courier costs, allows filers to submit documents immediately and outside of courthouse business hours, and allows court documents to be sent to filers electronically.

District court eFiling and eService has operated on a pilot basis in 11 district courts across the state-including Cass and Morrison counties-for several years. Based on the success of that pilot, the Minnesota Judicial Branch began expanding eFiling and eService to the rest of the state earlier this year. Crow Wing County has been among the counties able to voluntarily participate.

By mid-November, eFiling and eService was available in 57 district courts across the state. The Minnesota Judicial Branch aims to make eFiling and eService available in all 87 district courts statewide by mid-December.


There are 20 central and western Minnesota district courts that will begin offering eFiling and eService in early December.

Local counties include district courts in Mille Lacs and Todd counties on Dec. 10 and Wadena County District Court on Dec. 11.

Following this expansion, eFiling and eService will be available in every district court in Minnesota's 7th and 8th judicial districts.

"The 7th Judicial District is proud to have had the courts in Clay and Morrison counties help lead the way with the eFile and eServe pilot," said Seventh Judicial District Chief Judge John H. Scherer, in a news release. "We're now looking forward to seeing the rest of the counties in our district going live with this service over the next few weeks."

Upon implementation, eFiling and eService will be voluntary for filers in non-pilot counties, meaning filers will still be able to file documents using the traditional, paper-based method. Electronic filing and service in these counties will continue to be voluntary until July 1, 2016. Under recent amendments to Minnesota's Court Rules, use of the eFiling and eService system to file court documents will become mandatory for attorneys, government agencies, guardians ad litem, and sheriffs in all district courts statewide on July 1, 2016. Use of the eFiling and eService system will remain voluntary for other filers, such as self-represented litigants.

"As of Dec. 9, the entire 8th Judicial District will be offering eFiling and eService," said 8th Judicial District Chief Judge Donald M. Spilseth. "It will be wonderful to see the benefits of this capability being realized-not just for the courts, but for the public as well."

In addition to electronic filing and service of court documents, the eCourtMN initiative includes a wide array of various projects that are utilizing new technologies to increase efficiency and expand access to information throughout Minnesota's justice system. This includes:

• Providing judges and court staff with new electronic tools to more efficiently review and process court documents within the courthouse;


• Creating an electronic portal for government partners-such as law enforcement, prosecutors, and public defenders - to more efficiently access court documents and records;

• Making it easier and more convenient for the public to view electronic court records from across the state at their local courthouses;

• Partnering with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to expand use of electronic citations (eCitations) and other charging documents (eCharging). These tools allow law enforcement and prosecutors to file citations and complaints electronically, from their office or squad car, with the data automatically transferred to court and law enforcement databases. Use of eCharging and eCitations will become mandatory for adult complaints and adult citations statewide on July 1, 2016.

For more information, go to where the Minnesota Judicial Branch has posted informational resources, training materials, and a three-step guide to starting eFiling and eService. The Minnesota Judicial Branch also operates an eFile Support Center for filers with questions about the eFile and eServe system.

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