Mandatory E-Filing

The Supreme Court of Texas issued an order on Dec. 11 requiring “Electronic Filing in Certain Courts.” The order mandates “electronic filing (‘e-filing’) in civil cases including family and probate cases, by attorneys in appellate courts, district courts, statutory county courts, constitutional county courts and statutory probate courts pursuant to a detailed implementation schedule.”

Many people misunderstand what e-filing means. It is only an electronic delivery system. Once delivered, the court clerk must print the document to add it to the official record unless they have a an electronic case management system. In a county that has not gone paperless, the extra time and resources needed can more than offset any cost savings from e-filing.

Counties experienced a dramatic increase in expenditures for e-filing between 2011 and 2016. Costs rose from less than a quarter million dollars in FY 2011 to more than $5.2 million in FY 2016. This 2,139.3 percent increase would have been even higher had the survey period ended in FY 2015 when expenditures reached more than $7.5 million.

This large spike in expenditures is a direct result of the mandate to provide e-filing. Many counties bought case management software as a result of the mandate.

View the order and additional information regarding mandatory e-filing for courts.

A full issue brief from TAC will be available soon.