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MINNESOTA COURT RULES

GENERAL RULES OF PRACTICE

Rule 14.E-Filing and E-Service

Rule 14.01Mandatory and Voluntary E-File and E-Service

(a) Definitions. The following terms have the following meanings:

(1) "Designated Provider" means the electronic filing service provider designated by the state court administrator.

(2) "E-Filing System" means the Designated Provider's Internet-accessible electronic filing and service system.

(3) "Pilot Project Case Types" means cases in the Fourth Judicial District and Second Judicial District, of the Selected Civil Case Types and Family Case Types as defined in this rule.

(4) "Selected Civil Case Types" means all general civil cases, including examiner of title cases (in the Fourth Judicial District, in addition to Torrens cases this includes 5-week redemptions) except Conciliation Court and Probate/Mental Health case types, and Family Case Types as defined in this rule.

(5) "Family Case Types" means Annulments, Custody, Dissolutions with Children, Dissolutions without Children, Domestic Abuse, Family Other, Legal Separation, Paternity, Separate Maintenance, Summary Dissolution, Support, and Transfers of Legal Custody.

(b) Cases Subject to Mandatory E-Filing and E-Service. Effective September 1, 2012, attorneys representing parties in any case of the Pilot Project Case Types in the Second and Fourth Judicial Districts, and effective September 1, 2013, or ninety (90) days after designation by the State Court Administrator, whichever is later, for attorneys representing parties in any case of the Pilot Project Case types in the districts or portions thereof designated by the State Court Administrator under Rule 14.01(e), and government agencies appearing in such cases, must register promptly upon filing of any document by any party with the Designated Provider and file documents electronically with the court in Pilot Project Case Types. Registered attorneys and government agencies must also electronically serve all documents required or permitted to be served on other registered attorneys and government agencies in that case, provided that the attorney to be served has designated an e-mail address for receiving electronic service in the E-Filing System after the District Court has accepted the initial filing in the case. Electronic filing and electronic service shall be accomplished through the E-Filing System.

(c) Prohibited E-Filing. The following case types may not be filed electronically in proceedings related to:

(1) Wills deposited for safekeeping under Minnesota Statutes, section 524.2-515; and

(2) Parental notification bypass proceedings under Minnesota Statutes, section 144.343.

(d) Request for Exception to Mandatory E-File and E-Service Requirement. An attorney or government agency required to file and serve electronically under this rule, may request to be excused from mandatory e-filing in a particular case by motion to the Chief Judge or his or her designee. An opt-out request may be granted for good cause shown. If an opt-out request is granted, the court shall scan all document filings into the court's computer system and may charge the filing party an appropriate fee.

(e) Voluntary E-File and E-Serve. During the pilot project, attorneys, and parties designated by the Fourth Judicial District and Second Judicial District may, upon registering with the Designated Provider, electronically file documents with the court in civil cases designated by the respective judicial district. For other districts, attorneys and parties designated by the State Court Administrator may, upon registering with the Designated Provider, electronically file documents with the court in the locations and civil cases designated by the State Court Administrator. In any designated case in which the designated and registered attorneys or parties have electronically filed a document with the District Court, any other attorney or law firm representing a party in the case and any party designated by the District Court (Second and Fourth Judicial Districts), or the State Court Administrator (all other districts), may also electronically file documents in the case after registering with the Designated Provider. Registered attorneys and parties may also electronically serve documents on other registered attorneys and parties in such cases provided that the attorney or party to be served has designated an e-mail address for receiving electronic service in the E-Filing System after the District Court has accepted the initial filing in the case.

(e) Relief from Operation of this Rule.

(1) Technical Errors; Relief for Sending Party. Upon motion and a showing that electronic filing or electronic service of a document was not completed because of: (1) an error in the transmission of the document to the E-Filing System that was unknown to the sending party; (2) a failure of the E-Filing System to process the document when received; or (3) other technical problems experienced by the sending party or E-Filing System, the court may enter an order permitting the document to be deemed filed or served on the date and time it was first attempted to be transmitted electronically. If appropriate, the court may adjust the schedule for responding to these documents or the court's hearing.

(2) Technical Errors; Relief for Other Parties. Upon motion and a showing that an electronically served document was unavailable to or not received by a party served, the court may enter an order extending the time for responding to that document.

(Added effective September 1, 2012; amended effective September 16, 2013.)

Rule 14.02Registration Process and Duty to Designate E-Mail Address for Service

An attorney or party registers with the Designated Provider for each case by entering into a subscriber agreement with the Designated Provider and obtaining an E-Filing System user identification and password provided by the Designated Provider. The registered attorney or party must also designate in the E-Filing System an e-mail address for receiving electronic service in the case. Once an initial filing has been accepted in a case, all other registered attorneys and parties shall, upon filing their initial document in a case, designate in the E-Filing System an e-mail address for receiving electronic service in the case. Registered attorneys and parties shall maintain a designated e-mail address for receiving electronic service until all applicable appeal periods have expired for the case.

(Added effective September 1, 2012.)

Rule 14.03Document Format

(a) Document Types. Documents filed electronically shall be submitted in searchable PDF format only.

(b) Format. Documents filed electronically shall comply with the following format requirements:

(1) 8-1/2 x 11" size with a portrait orientation.

(2) No Optical Character Recognition (OCR) data shall be contained in or associated with the document.

(3) At least 200 dot-per-inch ("DPI") resolution.

(4) No unintelligible images (e.g., no all-black images).

(5) Documents may not be secured, password-protected, or have other features limiting access.

(6) Black and white images (no color images will be retained). Color documents submitted via the E-Filing System are transformed into black and white images.

(7) No document shall contain any external references (e.g., hyperlinks, URLs, shortcuts).

(8) Only readable words, viewable pictures or images, and valid, non-corrupted tables shall be included.

(9) Documents shall not be corrupted (e.g., a corrupt file having 0 bytes of data).

(10) Documents may contain only standard fonts. No CID or Character Identifier fonts are permitted.

(11) Only standard CCIT image compression is permitted.

(12) Documents must comprise the complete image or file. A file that experiences an upload issue or time-out on file transfer from a submitting party usually appears as an incomplete image or file when opened.

(c) Document size.

(1) No single electronic document should be greater than 5 MB; and

(2) No single envelope or filing should be greater than 25 MB.

Larger documents may be filed in several parts or in multiple envelopes.

(d) Non-conforming documents. With leave of court, a color document or document containing color may be filed electronically with manual handling or in paper form to be retained by the court in a color format. A motion to file a color document or document containing color to be retained by the court in a color format must be filed and served electronically.

(Added effective September 1, 2012; amended effective September 16, 2013.)

Rule 14.04Signatures

(a) Judge and Administrator Signatures. All electronically filed and served documents that require a judge's, judicial officer's, or court administrator's signature shall either capture the signature electronically under a process approved by the state court administrator pursuant to judicial branch policy or begin with an actual signature on paper that is then scanned into an electronic document format such that the final electronic document has the judge's, judicial officer's, or court administrator's signature depicted thereon. The final electronic document shall constitute an original.

(b) Attorney or Declarant Signature. A document electronically filed or served using the E-Filing System shall be deemed to have been signed by the attorney or declarant and shall bear a facsimile or typographical signature of such person, along with the typed name, address, telephone number, and attorney registration number of a signing attorney. Typographical signatures of an attorney or declarant shall be treated as a personal signature and shall be in the form: /s/ Pat L. Smith.

(c) Notary Signature, Stamp. A document electronically filed or served using the E-Filing System that requires a signature of a notary public shall be deemed signed by the notary public if, before filing or service, the notary public has signed a printed or electronic form of the document and the electronically filed or served document bears a facsimile or typographical notary signature and stamp.

(d) Perjury Penalty Acknowledgment. A document electronically filed or served using the E-Filing System that requires a signature under penalty of perjury is deemed signed by the declarant if, before filing or service, the declarant has signed a printed form of the document and the electronically filed or served document bears the declarant's facsimile or typographical signature.

(e) Certification; Retention. By electronically filing or submitting a document using the E-Filing System, the registered attorney or party filing or serving is certifying compliance with the signature requirements of these rules, and the signatures on the document shall have the same legal effect as the signatures on the original document.

(Added effective September 1, 2012.)

Rule 14.05Proof of Service.

The records of the E-Filing System indicating transmittal to a registered recipient who has designated an e-mail address for service of process in the case shall be sufficient proof of service on the recipient for all purposes.

(Added effective September 1, 2012.)

Rule 14.06Sealed and Confidential Documents.

A person electronically filing a document that is not accessible to the public in whole or in part under the Rules of Public Access to Records of the Judicial Branch or other applicable law, court rules or court order, is responsible for designating that document as confidential or sealed in the E-Filing System before transmitting it to the court.

A document marked as "confidential" (which may include "Confidential 1" and "Confidential 2," etc., as available and defined by the E-Filing System document security classifications) will not be accessible to the public, but will be accessible to court staff and, where applicable, to certain governmental entities as authorized by law, court rule, or court order. A document marked as "sealed" will not be accessible to the public but will be accessible to court staff with only the highest security level clearance.

Upon review, the court may modify the designation of any document incorrectly designated as sealed or confidential and shall provide prompt notice of any such change to the filing party. A filing party must seek advance approval from the court to submit a document designated as sealed or confidential if that document is not already inaccessible to the public under the Rules of Public Access to Records of the Judicial Branch or other applicable law, court rules, or court order.

A document to be filed under seal or as confidential may be filed in paper form if required or permitted by the court. A motion to file a document in paper form under seal or as confidential must be filed and served electronically.

(Added effective September 1, 2012.)

Rule 14.07Records: Official; Appeal; Certified Copies.

Documents electronically filed are official court records for all purposes. Certified copies shall be issued in the conventional manner.

(Added effective September 1, 2012.)

Advisory Committee Comment - 2012 Amendment

Rule 14 is a new rule, drafted to provide a uniform structure for implementation of e-filing and e-service in the district courts. The rule is derived in substantial part, with modification, from the Judicial District E-Filing Pilot Project Provisions, adopted by the Minnesota Supreme Court on October 21, 2010, and amended on March 10, 2011.

Rule 14.01 defines the cases that are subject to mandatory e-filing and e-service. This rule is intended to evolve by amendment by order of the supreme court as additional case categories or additional judicial districts are added to the pilot project. The other requirements for e-filing and e-service are not intended to see frequent amendment, and the committee believes the rules for e-filing and e-service, when authorized, should be maintained as uniform rules statewide.

Rule 14.01(d) provides for requests to be excused from required use of e-filing and e-service, and creates a "good cause" standard for granting that relief. There are few circumstances where the court should grant exemption from the requirements.

Because cases in Minnesota may be commenced by service rather than by filing with the court, the use of e-service under the court's system is possible only after the action has been commenced and is filed, and service may then be effected electronically only on an attorney or party who registers with the system and provides an e-mail address at which service from other parties and notices from the court can be delivered. Rule 14.02 sets forth this procedure. Rule 13.01 imposes an affirmative duty on parties and their attorneys to advise the court of any changes in their address, including their e-mail address.

The format requirements for documents are superficially the same as for other documents - they should be based on an 8-1/2 by 11 inch format, with a caption at the top and signature block at the end. But they are in fact filed as electronic records on a computer service and served on other parties by e-mail. Rule 14.03 defines the available electronic format for these documents and other requirements applicable to e-filed and e-served documents.

Rule 14.04 establishes the means by which electronic documents are "signed." The rule explicitly states the standard that e-filed and e-served documents as they reside on the computer system used by the court constitute originals, and are not mere copies of documents. The rule does not require the signing or retention of a paper copy of any filed document. It may be prudent for a litigant to maintain copies of these documents as duplicate originals in some limited circumstances, such as where an affidavit is signed by a non-party who may not be available if a dispute were to arise over authenticity.

Rule 14.06 establishes a specific procedure for filing electronic documents that either contain confidential information or are filed under seal. This rule establishes the requirements for electronic documents that are consistent with the requirements in Rule 11.06. Neither rule is intended to expand or limit the confidentiality concerns that might justify special treatment of any document. Under Rule 11.06, filing parties do not have a unilateral right to designate any filing as confidential, and prior permission in some form is required. This permission may flow from a statute or rule explicitly requiring that a particular document or portion of a document be filed confidentially or from a court order that documents be filed under seal. Rule 112 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure contains useful guidance on how confidential information can be handled. Where documents contain both confidential and non-confidential information, it may be appropriate to file redacted "public" versions of confidential or sealed documents.

Rule 14.06 also permits a party to seek either permission or a requirement that certain sealed or confidential documents be filed in paper format. This provision recognizes that certain information may be so sensitive or valuable that placing it in a sealed envelope with a clear warning that it is not to be opened except by court order may be the appropriate means to assure confidentiality.

The security designations "confidential" and "sealed" reflect the security classifications available in the courts case management system. In addition to court staff access, some confidential documents (e.g., in Domestic Violence, Juvenile Delinquency, and Parent/Child relationship cases) may be accessible to certain government entities who have demonstrated a need for access and have signed appropriate nondisclosure agreements. See, e.g., Rule 8, subd. 4(b), of the Rules of Public Access to Records of the Judicial Branch (authorizing access by county attorneys and public defenders, among others).

Pursuant to Minn. R. Civ. P. 5.06, a document that is electronically filed is deemed to have been filed by the court administrator on the date and time of its transmittal to the District Court through the E-Filing System, and the filing shall be stamped with this date and time subject to acceptance by the court administrator. If the filing is not subsequently accepted by the court administrator for reasons authorized by Minn. R. Civ. P. 5.04, the date stamp shall be removed and the document electronically returned to the person who filed it.

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