Most of us have had a few months to get a taste of the new mandatory e-filing rules. And if you've managed to file everything without rejection, then congratulations (or you haven't been filing enough). As for the rest of us, the anxiety of having your filing rejected—often without explanation or with some cryptic code—is all too familiar. This anxiety frequently turns to anger when you've successfully navigated the filing system in one county, then, full of confidence, file the same type of document in a different county but are rejected.
Well, the Texas Supreme Court Judicial Committee on Information Technology (that's JCIT for short) hears your pain. On March 21, 2014, the supreme court signed off on a new version of JCIT's technology standards, officially, Technology Standards v 1.3.
The new version aims to bring more uniformity to the process in two ways.
First, it establishes a set of filing codes that are the same across all counties. Before, a filing in one county might be coded differently than in another. The new version of the standards implements a broad set of case categories that then narrow down into more specific categories, including document types. This is especially helpful in reducing the categories of documents that may be filed after the initial pleading. While some counties seemed to have hundreds—with a description for every conceivable motion—the new version has around 20 filing types. Hopefully, this should streamline the filing process and eliminate some confusion, especially when filing in unfamiliar counties.
Second—and most importantly in my opinion—the supreme court has reined in the court clerk's penchant for inexplicable rejections. Now, if a clerk rejects a filing, he or she "must state the reason and reference any supporting authority." The Technology Standards 5.6.2 categorize and list the follow eight categories of rejection (with more specific reasons in each):
- Insufficient fees
- Insufficient funds
- Document Addressed to Wrong Clerk
- Incorrect/Incomplete Information
- PDF Documents Combined
- Sensitive Data
This list—and especially the specific rejection reasons—gives some helpful guidance to make sure your filing is in compliance. And if you do end up getting rejected, at least you'll know why and how to fix it.
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