WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said last week the court currently is developing its own electronic filing system, which may be operational as soon as 2016.
Roberts said in his annual, year-end report that once the system is implemented, all filings at the nation’s high court -- from petitions to responses to petitions to merits briefs, and all other types of motions and applications -- will be available on the court’s website at no cost.
“Initially, the official filing of documents will continue to be on paper for all parties in all cases, with the electronic submission an additional requirement for parties represented by attorneys,” he said Wednesday.
“Once the system has operated effectively for some time and the Supreme Court Bar has become well acquainted with it, the Court expects that electronic filing will be the official means for all parties represented by counsel, but paper filings will still be required.”
Parties proceeding pro se, or representing themselves, will continue to submit documents only on paper. Court personnel will scan and upload those documents to the system for public access.
Roberts called the new system an “important step forward.”
However, he said courts, including the Supreme Court, must introduce new technologies at a “more measured pace” than other institutions.
“They will sometimes seem more guarded in adopting cutting-edge innovations, and for good reason, considering some of the concerns that the judiciary must consider in deploying new technologies,” the chief justice said.
Roberts noted the importance of the new system.
“The judiciary has a special duty to ensure, as a fundamental matter of equal access to justice, that its case filing process is readily accessible to the entire population, from the most tech-savvy to the most tech-intimidated,” he said.
“Unlike commercial enterprises, the courts cannot decide to serve only the most technically-capable or well-equipped segments of the public.”
Roberts said the court will provide more information about the details of the new system -- including the process for attorneys to register as authorized filers -- in the coming months.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.