Login | December 16, 2017

SCOTUS updates website, will accept electronic filing

RICHARD WEINER
Technology for Lawyers

Published: September 15, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court’s website just got a major overhaul, including a number of upgrades aimed at easing public and bar access to the court.

Most exciting is a nascent attempt at electronic filing, allowing the Supreme Court to join the rest of the federal court system in that regard.

The National Law Journal has gathered a few responses from experts in SCOTUS and federal practice, which I’ll sprinkle in here and there.

The upgraded website at www.supremecourt.gov launched on July 28, with an interesting glitch that featured blue script against a scarlet background (corrected almost immediately). The site also mistakenly announced that cases set for October had already been heard.

The site now features user friendliness to non-lawyers and visitors to the court, including etiquette instructions for visiting the courthouse, and case names and information about cases being heard. There is a search bar and links to the docket, filing and rules, opinions, the daily calendar and a link for the press.

A second upgrade was announced the first week of August, bringing electronic filing to the website as of Nov. 13. Of course, most lower federal courts have had electronic filing for a long time (the Cleveland court being one of the first many years ago), and the court system has PACER to track cases.

But now, finally, SCOTUS is accepting e-filing. In 2017. Through a button on the site that says “electronic filing”. The new stand-alone system, developed in-house, is unrelated to PACER, which charges for the first 30 pages of copy. Access to the new e-filing system will be free to the public. Attorneys will need to register for this service “closer to the date.”

Initially, paper copies of all documents will have to also be filed with the court. No word on how long that requirement will be in place. Pro se filings and other non-standard docs will be scanned by the court’s staff and posted on the site.

The upgrades have received almost universal approval, if not outright excitement, from the world of SCOTUS writers, according to the NLJ.

Fix the court, a group that advocates for greater transparency at the Supreme Court, gave an uncharacteristic thumbs-up on Twitter.

"We rarely get to say this, so we'll do so in all caps, THANK YOU, #SCOTUS!

"It's certainly a positive step that will increase public access" to court information, said Pratik Shah, co-head of the Supreme Court and appellate practice at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. "We won't have to rely on SCOTUSblog as much."


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