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Connecticut litigators up against a deadline to file pleadings in far-away courthouses now have an alternative to costly courier services, or, worse yet, wasting a good part of their day personally shuttling legal papers around the state. Starting Nov. 19, superior court clerk’s offices in Connecticut began accepting certain documents via facsimile as a convenience to lawyers and pro se litigants, Chief Court Administrator Joseph H. Pellegrino announced. Judicial Branch officials say they don’t anticipate a crush of filings to come in over the fax machine — at least not until attorneys get used to the idea. They consider the new capability to be the first step toward developing paperless courts, where case files are maintained electronically. The next phase of that mission, Pellegrino said, will be to enable attorneys to file pleadings by e-mail. That, added Joseph D. D’Alesio, executive director of Superior Court Operations, could be only a year away. For the moment, however, the Judicial Branch is awaiting the Williamsburg, Va.-based National Center for State Courts to adopt universal standards on e-filing, D’Alesio said. Such standards would allow vendors to offer more generic software packages instead of cost prohibitive ones tailored to individual jurisdictions. Due to fax machines’ limited memory capacities, pleadings have to be 20 pages or less, including a cover sheet and any accompanying exhibits. Pellegrino also cautioned attorneys about transmitting time-sensitive motions by fax. Though faxed documents will be accepted around the clock, those received after 5 p.m. will be considered officially filed as of the court’s next day of business, he said. Papers that commence an action or require an oath or affirmation have to be filed in person, as do ones requiring a filing fee or other payment. Criminal summonses and complaints, arrest reports, bond forms, seized property inventories, and applications for restraining orders also have to be submitted the old-fashioned way. Janice R. Calvi, a caseflow coordinator and head of the Judicial Branch committee developing policies and procedures for fax filing, said in judicial districts, such as in Middlesex County, where all the courts’ dockets are located in one building, there will be just one primary fax coordinator and a back-up fax coordinator. In other JDs, such as Hartford, where civil, criminal, family and juvenile courts are spread out from each other, there will be one fax coordinator and back-up per facility, she said.

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