Clark County District Court rules against paper for paperwork

It pursues electronic filing efforts

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

 

As part of the Clark County Courthouse's blossoming courtship with the digital age, District Court will require attorneys and government agencies to start filing certain documents electronically on Sept. 1, according to the court's administrator.

District Court Administrator Ela Selga said the change will accelerate the processing of cases, save trips to the courthouse and cut down on congestion.

"With ex parte (attorney-represented) civil cases, for example, processing has gone from 15 to 21 days down to a three-day turnaround," Selga said in a press release.

There still is no mechanism for pro-se litigants, those who represent themselves in small claims, for instance, to file online. They have to continue filing paper documents on the ground level of the courthouse, 1200 Franklin St. in Vancouver.

The change applies to attorney and government filings for new cases, open cases and answers to writs of garnishment. For documents longer than 500 pages, attorneys and government agencies have the option of filing either electronically or in person at the courthouse.

Some exceptions

There are some exceptions to e-filing rule, Selga said. The following documents must still be filed in person at the courthouse:

• Certified records of proceedings for purposes of appeal

• Negotiable instruments

• Bail bonds

• Documents presented at a hearing or trial

• Documents of foreign governments under official seal

Attorneys and government agencies are required to register with District Court before they begin e-filing documents. District Court handles small claims and criminal misdemeanor cases. Electronic filing is not yet available in Superior Court, which handles all felony criminal cases, other civil cases, divorces and probate cases.

For details and to register, go to http://www.clark.wa.gov/courts/district/efiling.html.

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Courts; paris.achen@columbian.com.