For immediate release: April 16, 2009
For more information contact:
Winnie Comfort or Tammy Kendig
New Jersey Courts Moving to Electronic Filing for High-Volume Cases
The New Jersey Supreme Court has announced a two-phase plan to require attorneys to file electronically all court papers in contract and collection cases involving up to $15,000 using "JEFIS," the Judiciary Electronic Filing/Imaging System.
Those cases, known as "special civil" cases, comprise the single largest category of court cases filed each year in New Jersey's Superior Courts and last year accounted for more than one-third of the total 1.1 million cases filed.
In phase one of the plan, attorneys who had filed 1,000 or more of the qualifying cases in 2008 will be required to file all of their cases using JEFIS by May 2010. Combined, the 33 law firms in the high-volume category filed about 305,000 of the total cases filed in 2008.
The Judiciary has been operating JEFIS statewide as a voluntary e-filing program since November 2000. About 54 percent of the special civil cases filed annually are filed using JEFIS. When the mandatory filing program becomes effective, it is anticipated that about 75 percent of those cases will be filed electronically using JEFIS.
"Chief Justice Rabner has identified electronic filing of court documents as one of the Judiciary's priority concerns," said the Judiciary's Acting Administrative Director, Judge Glenn A. Grant. "Given the recent rapid increase in the number of filings, coupled with the significant constraints of the current state budget, it is clear that we must increase electronic filings and decrease managing paper documents in order to maintain our high standards of efficiency and timely case resolution," said Judge Grant.
From July 2007 through June 2008, the courts received 383,154 contract and collections cases in the special civil part, a 28 percent increase over the previous year. So far this fiscal year, from July 2008 through February 2009, nearly 250,000 new cases have been filed.
During the implementation phase leading up to the May 2010 deadline, staff from the Administrative Office of the Courts will offer direct assistance to the attorneys and law firms that will be required to file court papers using JEFIS.
Court staff will conduct an initial consultation with the law firm's information technology specialists; help firms register with the Superior Court Clerk's Office; help establish the law firm's user ID and password for each attorney in a law firm; and help the law firm download the JEFIS e-filing software. The software and the services of court staff will be provided at no cost to the attorneys.
"We will conduct a site visit to each law firm, if necessary," said Jane Castner, assistant director for the Civil Division of the AOC. "We will help them run test filings and answer their questions as they go through the conversion process to mandatory JEFIS filing," she said.
The Judiciary will provide other services to attorneys who participate in JEFIS, including remote access from attorneys' offices to the electronic case jackets for their cases, automation of the monthly statements for the accounts used by attorneys to pay filing fees and online access to real-time balances in these accounts.
The second phase of implementing mandatory JEFIS e-filing will begin next year and will focus on the remaining 4,000 attorneys and law firms who file fewer special civil contract and collections cases. The specific plan for the second phase will be developed during the implementation of the first phase.