Hawaii Courts Should Transition to “Paperless”
In the legal profession, we use an inordinate amount of paper. All Hawaii attorneys should move toward a “paperless office” by utilizing the technology of scanning documents and electronic storage of documents. Indeed, the use of electronic versions of documents has become increasingly sophisticated. Electronic scanning of documents saves paper and helps the environment. We continue to use our best efforts to go as “paperless” as possible by, among other things, storing files electronically and sending correspondence and documents via email transmittal.
Approximately four years ago, the Federal Court converted to electronic filing. Rule 5.3 of Local Rules of Practice for the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii states as follows:
LR 5.3. Electronic Filing.
Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 5(d)(3), papers may be filed, signed, and/or verified by electronic means consistent with (a) these rules; (b) technical standards, if any, that the Judicial Conference of the United States establishes; and (c) any administrative procedure adopted by a general order of this court. A paper filed by electronic means in compliance with this rule is equivalent to a written paper for purposes of applying the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Local Rules.
This system allows attorneys to file documents online. In order to do so, an attorney must take a mandatory class with a District Court to be trained in the practice of electronic filing. Each of our attorneys and staff has completed this class. The ease and convenience of electronic filing in the Federal Court is of enormous benefit and cost savings to our clients. In the past, attorneys practicing in the Federal Court had the option of filing after “closing hours” only by depositing documents at a designated location by the entrance of the Federal Court. Although this “drop box” allowed Hawaii attorneys to file documents after the closing of the clerk’s office, multiple paper copies of each filed document were submitted. This was an enormous environmental waste. By contrast, electronic filing allows an attorney to file any document online by scanning the document electronically and submitting it for electronic filing with the Federal Court. Moreover, because of electronic filing, an attorney does not have to serve paper documents on opposing parties or counsel so long as the opposing party or counsel is also registered with the Court to file documents electronically.
This saves the cost of producing and serving paper copies of documents. Moreover, because of electronic filing, attorneys across the nation can access documents filed electronically with the Federal Court for a nominal charge. This practice also saves costs for the time it would normally require attorneys and staff to physically view files at the Federal Court’s clerk’s office and allows us to conduct research anywhere via the internet.
Finally, cases filed in Federal Court may be monitored electronically on the PACER website. In fact, some of our clients have signed up with this service simply so that they can monitor decisions as soon as they are filed by the Court. Obviously, this allows the client more access to the Court system. These benefits of electronic filing are available in the Federal Court system.
Regrettably, the Hawaii State Court system has not yet adopted electronic filing. The Hawaii State Court system should encourage this transition.