In November 2020, Clerk of the Supreme Court Sheila Reiff filed a petition in the Court to seek approval for “the use of an electronic filing system in the appellate courts” and “to amend the rules of appellate procedure as needed to implement the [eFiling] system.”
The petition and rule amendments were developed by the Appellate eFiling Committee, a committee convened by the clerk with representation from the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, practicing attorneys, and court staff.
EFiling in Wisconsin Appellate Courts
Wisconsin’s appellate courts began requiring parties to file electronic briefs and appendices in 2009. But the electronic submission was only supplemental to the paper copy, which remained the official document of record.
The petition “requests that the current system for electronic filing of briefs and appendices … be expanded into a comprehensive system of electronic filing and service, building on the system used successfully in the Wisconsin circuit courts.”
The clerk’s office has been hard at work at creating such a “comprehensive system” since last year. Electronic filing in Wisconsin’s appellate courts started on a pilot basis in 2019, and the system is now available to litigants on a voluntary basis in all four districts of Wisconsin’s court of appeals (though not currently in the Supreme Court). The petition proposes that electronic filing become mandatory for attorneys as of July 1, 2021.
More about the Petition
The rule petition (no. 20-07) is available on the wicourts.gov website, and its supporting memorandum is available also on the wicourts.gov website.
The Supreme Court will consider the petition pursuant to its rulemaking authority under Wis. Stat. section 751.12 and its administrative authority over all courts conferred by Article VII, § 3 of the Wisconsin Constitution.
A hearing on the petition has been scheduled for March 17, 2021.
Adoption of electronic filing in the appellate courts will require a number of changes to Wisconsin’s rules of appellate procedure (Wis. Stat. chapter 809) and to the rule governing electronic filing in the circuit courts in Wis. Stat. section 801.18.
Below are a few highlights of the proposed changes to chapter 809:
eFiling will become mandatory for attorneys on a schedule to be set by the Supreme Court, with a proposed effective date of July 1, 2021.
eFiling will be available for all documents, not just briefs and appendices.
Documents will be considered timely if they are electronically filed by 11:59 p.m. on the day they are due.
Electronic filers will serve and be served through the eFiling system by receiving a notice of activity each time a new document is filed. Printing and service of briefs and appendices will be eliminated except for copies served on self-represented parties.
Electronic filers may use electronic signatures to sign documents.
A $20 fee per case per filer will apply after eFiling becomes mandatory.
The notice of appeal and its accompanying documents will be served electronically using the circuit court eFiling system.
Briefs will be paginated by Arabic numerals starting on the first page of the brief.
Electronic briefs may (but are not required to) include internal bookmarks and hyperlinks.
A redline of all the committee’s proposed changes to chapter 809 can be found in the petition’s Appendix A. The proposed amendments to the circuit court statutes are available in the petition’s Appendix B.
Your Comments Are Welcome
Comments on the rule petition are welcome. Any comment should be filed by Feb. 3, 2021, with the Clerk of the Supreme Court. See the notice on the wicourts.gov website for details on how to comment or ask questions.
This article was originally published on the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Appellate Practice Section Blog, Sua Sponte. Visit the State Bar sections webpage or the Appellate Practice Section web pages to learn more about the benefits of section membership.