If you’re filing electronically, and it’s after 4:30 p.m., what is the official date of the filing? Is it the actual date, albeit after the clerk’s office is closed, or is it the next day? The answer can make a big difference. Either you’re late or you’re on time. Either you invoke jurisdiction or you don’t. Maybe the court reads your filing or it doesn’t.
The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin (subscription required) yesterday reported that the Illinois Supreme Court has been asked to review this question in City of Chicago v. Illinois Commerce Commission, et al., No. 104361. The question in that case was whether an electronic filing for rehearing of the the ICC’s decision preserved jurisdiction.
In the Northern District of Illinois, the federal court allows electronic filings till midnight to count on the day filed. In the Circuit Court of DuPage County, Illinois, where e-filing still is voluntary, an after-hours filing is considered filed the following day. The idea there is that parties who do not have access to e-filing should not be placed at a disadvantage.
The DuPage rule is deference to an age when there were no options to physically filing paper in the clerk’s office. Non-e-filers are not at a disadvantage. They simply have to recognize that the office closes at 4:30 p.m., and act accordingly – the same as always.
The only people who may have some trouble e-filing are non-lawyers who have small claims cases. Some mechanism can be worked out to give these folks an option to file paper.
But virtually all lawyers have access to a broadband connection, and thus to e-filing. Any lawyer who doesn’t have that option should get it immediately. It’s the cost — hopefully a declining one — of doing business.