One of the seminars at the 2015 South Carolina Bar Convention addressed the upcoming introduction of e-filing in South Carolina state courts. It will not be fully implemented this year, maybe not even next year, but it is coming.
What do we know about e-filing?
Greenville and Clarendon counties will host the e-filing pilot program. The pilot program is expected to begin later in 2015 and be used for common pleas. Once the pilot program is completed, the judicial department will bring additional counties on board one at a time.
The e-filing system provides for electronic filing, service on opposing counsel, and viewing filed documents, much like—but not identical to—the federal ECF system. Filings will be allowed until 11:59 p.m. on the date they are due. Attorneys will use their AIS login information to access e-filing and use digital signatures on pleadings filed as PDFs. All documents will be served by e-service except for the Summons and Complaint. As the e-filing plan currently stands, Pro se filers may not use the e-filing system during the pilot program and Pro hac vice counsel may not use the e-filing system at all.
The judicial department will make a number of training materials available before the e-filing system goes live. For example, it will release Electronic Filing Policies and Guidelines, a training manual, and training webinars. The Policies and Guidelines will address things such as how to file when you experience a technical failure or difficulty, and how to submit proposed orders to judges.
How will e-filing affect your practice right now?
E-filing will not affect your practice today. However, once the pilot program begins in Greenville and Clarendon counties, common pleas filings in those counties will be made using the e-filing system.