“NYSCEF”, the New York State Courts Electronic Filing System. A program (portal) that allows filing by electronic means as well as electronic service of most e-filed documents. It is a system which most of us are quite intimate with. Depending on the complexity of the case, you may find yourself with a filing that consists of well over 100 documents or commencing an action with 20 parties that all contain party text, or even better the parties are named multiple times within the caption. This is when we, as filers, make that silent prayer to the NYSCEF gods that the documents are both handed over timely, meet the format and criteria of the NYSCEF system, the Electronic Filing Rules, CPLR, Court’s Local Rules, the Judge’s Individual Rules (That is, if you have a Judge) and let’s not forget the Division Rules. Filing with the NYSCEF system is not just conversions and uploads.
As a Docketing and Filing Professional, we are the last step in quality control. When we receive a document for filing, we are adding value by also reviewing it for procedural accuracy. Are you in the Commercial Division? Do the exhibits have to be uploaded separately or as a combined document? If as a combined document, are bookmarks necessary? Signatures; Does the document require physically scanned signatures, or is an “s/” sufficient? If an “s/” are you filing under the correct filer? Does the filing require an Affidavit/Affirmation of Service? If you filed a Proposed Order, does the judge need a working copy to be so-ordered? Have you redacted?
Let’s talk about PDF/A, which is a subset of the PDF specification which removes much of the complexity and issues of archiving files. This format supports archiving of files for future use and allows these files to be opened by any software or operating system without losing its original format, color, hyperlinks, and fonts. This is also the required format for filing with NYSCEF. This can be the bane of your existence depending on the amount of metadata the document contains and the source of your document. An Ill-formatted PDF will cause a rejection upon attempting to complete your filing.
As advanced as it is, NYSCEF is not always completely logical and the rejection will wipe all your uploaded files forcing you to start anew. The key here is employing best practices and this is where much of our as legal professionals should be focused.
Developing a method or system to help identify potential issues at the forefront of e-filing is essential to a successful e-filing. Not to mention staying up to date with amendments in the CPLR, Local Rules, Division Rules, Electronic Filing Rules and your Judge’s rules. Using tools that can properly convert and detect issues timely and efficiently is indispensable because, let’s be honest, we are more than likely going to be hit with an Order to Show Cause at 4:45 p.m. that “MUST be filed today before the Court closes”, or does that just happen to me?
Kristen Gutierrez is a Managing Clerk in New York City, The information contained herein is not legal advice.