Thursday, January 29, 2009

Time For Indiana Supreme Court to Allow Electronic Service of Documents

Rule 5(b) of the Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure rule that deals with the service of documents in Indiana courts. Whenever you file something in a county circuit or superior court, the trial courts in Indiana, you are required to serve the opposing party counsel with a copy of whatever you filed. Almost always this involves mailing the document the old fashioned way - via "snail mail." A lot of attorneys or their clerical support also will draw up a cover letter instructing the recipient of what is in the envelope (which I have always thought was pretty silly since it is obvious what the filing is.) All in all, service via regular mail can be quite time-consuming and at 42 cents a pop, very expensive for the clients.

Service via regular mail also fails to provide much in the way of proof that service was actually made. On a few occasions, I have had lawyers file motions which I am fairly certain they intentionally never served me with or delayed sticking in the mail for several days. When the court does not get any opposition to the motion, the judge grants the motion. After an attorney had pulled that stunt several times in a contentious divorce case to vacate or continue hearings, the court ordered that service of all court filings be by certified mail.

Hopefully Indiana will eventually get around to having an electronic service for filing document in Indiana trial courts. In the meantime though, the Supreme Court should modify Trial Rule 5(B) to allow for electronic service of court filings on legal counsel.

1 comment:

Keith F said...

Do you think a trial court judge would grant a stipulation between the parties to use one of the already established online document e-service companies in their case? LexisNexis File & Serve (disclosure: my employer) does just that in many local jurisdictions. Saves lots of time, money and paper for everyone.