In the days before electronic court filing, attorneys carried their proposed order into the courtroom the day of the hearing, the judge would scratch his or her edits onto the paper document, and then the order would be filed with the court and served on opposing counsel.
Since most hearings will call for a proposed order, attorneys will come into the hearing that morning carrying those documents for the judge to confirm. Some even leave blanks for dates and amount to more easily confirm the judge’s specific orders.
So how will states like California and Indiana approach proposed orders now that eFiling is the new norm?
eFiling states on proposed orders
California Court Rule 3.1312, which addresses standards for eFiling proposed orders, stipulates that two versions of the proposed order be filed: one PDF version, and one copy of a word processing document that can be edited. According to this rule, courts must also provide an electronic address to which filers can submit the word processing version of a document.
Indiana’s statewide eFiling program does not stipulate unique standards for electronically filing proposed orders. They do call attention to the separate filing code that must be used for proposed orders, however, and recommend that the proposed order be a lead document in case of multiple filings.
Courts in the Northern District of Texas have set up email addresses for each judge to receive editable Word or WordPerfect files from attorneys, which the judges will then edit and return.
Illinois courts instruct filers, “If a document requires leave of Court before filing, the registered user shall attach the proposed document as an exhibit to the motion for leave in a single transaction. The proposed document shall also be submitted for efiling, but in a separate transaction than the transaction containing the motion requesting leave.”
How to eFile a proposed order
This new approach to proposed orders in eFiling hopes to make it easier for judges to make changes to the documents by allowing them to type changes in directly.
While One Legal typically converts all eFiled documents to PDF—the format required for every other type of document—we do have specific triggers in our eFiling platform that keep the filed document in its word processing form when a proposed order is being filed. However, only certain counties have systems that accept this functionality.
Right now, only Orange County’s electronic filing manager (EFM) allows for what is called a ‘split order.’
One Legal’s ‘split order’ function first allows filers to upload a word processing version of the document. Then our platform converts a copy into PDF, applying OCR as usual, and leaves one copy in its original format. The editable version is sent straight to the judge, “splitting” the order, while the PDF goes on to the clerks to be filed.
Other California courts
In all other California courts, filers will need to eFile through the preferred electronic filing service provider (EFSP), like One Legal, and then also email your editable proposed order to the courtroom clerk.
To find the email address, check out your local court’s Contact Us page, such as this one from Santa Cruz County. If no email is specified for proposed orders, reach out to confirm the best address before sending your document, to make sure it gets to the right place.
Los Angeles County
Already establishing its own rules even in its young days of eFiling, LA county has opted to not require an editable copy of proposed orders at all. Instead, the courts have decided that they will simply make any necessary changes to the PDF itself, in much the same way judges used to write on the physical copy.
The local court rules state: “Submit your proposed order in PDF version. Only orders after hearing may be submitted, except for Ex Parte proposed orders,” which must be brought to the court the morning of the Ex Parte.
When do I need to eFile a proposed order?
Before electronic filing even, a lot of courts wanted you to file your proposed order before the actual court date.
The California rules of court do not require proposed orders be submitted until five days after the hearing. However, it remains best practice to bring a copy with you, to better get the judge’s confirmation and file it on opposing party within the deadline.
Some counties, however, have more specific requirements for the timeline of a proposed order. San Francisco County, for instance, does directly recommend that parties appear at the hearing with proposed orders. Certain case types have larger expectations.
Los Angeles released specific expectations for eFiling proposed orders, saying that they should be submitted only after the ruling on the petition or motion, after the hearing.
For Family Law, “All parties must lodge with the Court and serve on the other party a proposed order no later than 5 court days before the hearing.”
In Probate matters, “Except in the case of confirmations of sales, orders including orders for appointment of guardian or conservator must be submitted to the probate department at least two (2) weeks in advance of the scheduled hearing date, with the scheduled hearing date noted on the face sheet.”
When emailing over a proposed order in a format that can be edited, we recommend including your eFiling confirmation number in the body of the email, to more easily connect the two documents. You might also want to list the case number, hearing date, and any other pertinent case information.
Of course, as we all know well, these local and county rules could easily be overruled by a particular judge, who may have specific requirements for the timing and format of proposed orders—or any other documents.
As eFiling processes become more clear and streamlined, courts will hone their processes and (hopefully) simplify expectations. Until then, best of luck with your proposed orders!
Have information on eFiling proposed orders in a specific county? Share your tips in the comments!