Appellate Success In California

Aug 10, 2017 Laurie J. Hepler
Lurching Toward E-Filing

Federal appellate courts mastered e-filing many years ago, and it’s the norm nationwide.   But state appellate courts in California still have not fully implemented it.  Here’s a summary of where things stand:

  • The state Supreme Court forbids e-filing for merits briefs, but as of September 1, will require e-filing for Petitions for Review and all other pleadings coming before the grant/denial of review.  (Right now e-filing is voluntary, and clerks are still getting used to it.)
  • Five of our six District Courts of Appeal require that virtually everything be e-filed.  But their local rules vary—sometimes in open conflict with the California Rules of Court.  Small infractions can cause rejected filings; for example one district still requires hand-signatures, while another decrees that no PDF shall have any color whatsoever.
  • The Second District in Los Angeles, the largest and busiest district of our Court of Appeal, is still transitioning to full e-filing.  Briefs must be e-filed, but the court requires paper copies too (which other districts forbid).  Record material supporting appeals and writs must be paper-filed, while preliminary forms and motions must be solely electronic.

►  The practical message:  State appellate courts will arrive at universal e-filing, and most local practices will eventually align.  But for the foreseeable future, successful filing requires extra diligence and preparation time by counsel and staff.