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Electronic case filing is coming to the Southern District of New York. Beginning in February, a group of 11 judges and all of the court’s magistrate judges will begin designating some or all of their cases for electronic filing, the court announced Monday. The beginning of electronic filing in Manhattan comes on the heels of successful pilot projects in New York’s Eastern District and Southern District Bankruptcy courts. Judge Lewis Kaplan, chair of the Southern District’s Technology Committee, said that the new case management/electronic case filing system (CM/ECF) represents a “fantastic change in efficiency.” “By and large, after a year of growing pains, we are going to be in the same place as the bankruptcy court, which is a pretty good place to be,” Kaplan said, adding that the Southern District hopes to have all of the court’s 48 active and senior judges on the system by the end of next year. The new system will allow 24-hour access to case files from any location, remote document filing, immediate e-mail notification of case activity and electronic service of court filings. In addition to Kaplan, the judges participating in the first phase of the program are Chief Judge Michael B. Mukasey, Judges Deborah A. Batts, Charles L. Brieant, John G. Koeltl, John S. Martin Jr., Colleen McMahon, Loretta A. Preska, Sidney H. Stein, and Senior Judges William C. Conner and Robert W. Sweet. Once a judge designates that some or all newly filed cases are to be handled electronically, attorneys can file documents over the Internet, bring an electronic diskette to the clerk’s office for entry into the system or, where allowed, bring a paper document to the clerk’s office to be scanned. Filing over the Internet will require software capable of converting documents into PDF format and, in some cases, a scanner. Any person filing pleadings or other documents electronically will be required to serve Notice of Electronic Filing on parties entitled to service by e-mail, hand, fax or first-class mail, and electronic service of the Notice of Electronic Filing will constitute service of the filed document. Kaplan said there is a standing order that “anything signed by a judge is going to be on paper and that is the official record.” The judge said that the decision to insist on an official paper record was prompted not by worries that documents filed electronically will be lost but by concern about the potential for forgery. There are no current plans to load old cases into the system or shift to electronic filing on current cases, Kaplan said. According to a policy set at the national level, no criminal cases will be part of the system for at least two years, largely because of privacy concerns. PUBLIC ACCESS The public will have some access to most of the filing system, with the obvious exception of sealed documents in civil cases. The public will not have access to parts of the system that maintain records and statistics for administrative purposes. District Executive Clifford Kirsch said the court will offer “hands-on” training classes for attorneys beginning in January. Attorneys can also take advantage of a computerized training program by logging on to the court’s Web site ( www.nysd.uscourts.gov). The court is seeking comments on the procedures from the bar. Comments should be sent to the attention of Kirsch and delivered to the court’s rules committee. The Web site also contains the standing order laying out the procedures for electronic filing. Once the system is up and running, the district will maintain a help desk telephone line and post information on the Web site, including a list of frequently asked questions. Other inquiries about the system can be made to Acting Clerk of Court J. Michael McMahon at (212) 805-0136.

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