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Privacy issues associated with online filings

With the increase of technological advances, online viewing and filing of documents is now  reality in late 2016.  Keep this in mind when filing documents with the court that may easily be viewed by others.  Exhibits to pleadings and information in pleadings can be seen for free online by anyone who decides to click around on in the pleadings filed in your case.  Here’s a current review of online filings in the Ark-La-Tex.

Online filings in Federal Courts

Federal courts have used the Pacer system for viewing online filings, and the CM/ECF filing system for online filings for years.  The pleadings in these online cases are somewhat transparent, as anyone with a Pacer account can pull up and read pleadings.  Keep this in mind when filing a pleading in federal court.  If necessary, you can seek a protective order, or seek an order sealing certain pleadings, if there is a legal basis for such, and they contain information that the court would agree is sensitive.

Arkansas State Court

As of this writing, the circuit courts in most counties have been brought online through the Arkansas Court Connect website.  The circuit clerk in each county has varying policies on scanning in pleadings from closed cases, and cases from the past.  Even letters to the court are generally filed in the online docket in each case.  Many district courts are also being brought online on the same website.  The Arkansas Courts of Appeals and Arkansas Supreme Court filings are also online.  The circuit courts in a few counties also allow for online filing via the eFlex system, and an account is required to file online.  Anyone with an Internet connection can view Arkansas state court pleadings online.

Louisiana State Court

Louisiana does not currently allow e-filing in state court.  Some parishes do have systems to allow account-holders in that parish to log on and view pleadings.  For instance, Caddo Parish (Shreveport) will sell an annual account for $360, which allows the account holder to log on and read pleadings.  Printing on this system is 40 cents per page.  Online filing is not allowed yet.

Texas State Court

E-filing is now mandatory in Texas State Court through the Texas electronic filing management system.  However, there is no central online docket for each case to view and print pleadings, although some individual counties do have an online records portal, like Bexar and Dallas Counties.  Once a pleading is e-filed, attorneys can be e-mailed a notice of the filing with a link to the pleading filed (although this link expires after a certain period of time).

For these reasons, it is imperative to hire a veteran litigator and experienced trial lawyer who has been involved in e-filing pleadings for years.  If a loved one has been injured or killed due while on someone else’s property, the lawyers at the Harrelson Law Firm stand ready to help.

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Steve Harrelson
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