The Michigan Supreme Court has published for public comment proposed measures to help trial courts implement and mandate e-filing use statewide. The goal is to ensure access to the courts for self-represented litigants.
If approved, a uniform exemption process would be implemented, and trial courts that seek to mandate e-filing for all filers must submit a plan to the State Court Administrative Office for approval that describes how the court will provide assistance to self-represented litigants.
“Making e-filing mandatory in Michigan trial courts is the best way to ensure that all residents have uniform access to local court services and resources,” says Chief Justice Pro Tem David F. Viviano, who oversees the Michigan Supreme Court’s e-filing process. “At the same time, self-represented litigants who might not have access to a computer must have the ability to file pleadings and receive notices from the court. Our goal is to improve access to all while increasing efficiency and saving money.”
The order would require that there be at least one computer workstation per county for self-represented litigants and that the courts conform to the standards set forth by the State Court Administrative Office, including the following:
- The court must use a calculator tool to determine the number of e-filing workstations it must make available.
- It must list all workstations (with a preference for onsite locations) that self-represented litigants may use.
- The court must list the manner of assistance to be provided in using the court’s equipment.
- It will include material on how to provide assistance to self-represented litigants in staff training.
- It will make its access plan available on its website and regularly update and review it.
- The court will create a grievance process.
- The largest pilot courts (Oakland, Wayne, and Macomb) must provide on-site or close-by assistance in the form of dedicated computers, scanners, and staff to help filers process their filings. Smaller courts can provide assistance on an ad hoc basis.