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Fax Filings

The Connecticut Judicial Branch has developed procedures allowing the filing of certain documents via facsimile at Superior Court clerks' offices, effective Nov. 19, Chief Court Administrator Joseph H. Pellegrino announced.

"The Connecticut Judicial Branch is pleased that this service will be available to lawyers and pro se litigants who must file documents at the state's courthouses,'' Judge Pellegrino said. "We believe that these procedures will increase efficiency and provide better access to our courts."

All fax phone numbers to the clerks' offices are posted on the Branch's website, at www.jud.ct.gov under the Court Directions section and the Directory section. The Procedures and Technical Standards for Electronic Filing, developed by the Judicial Branch, and the facsimile cover sheet also will be available on the website at www.jud.ct.gov, although the cover sheet will not be available until Nov 19.

Judge Pellegrino directed the Branch's Superior Court Operations Division to formulate a fax filing project, and in August 2001, the Fax Filing Committee was created. The committee was charged with developing and implementing the policy and procedures for fax filing, and its members included employees from the Branch's Court Operations, Administrative, and Judicial Information Technology Divisions.

Attorney Nancy L. Kierstead, Director of the Superior Court Operations Division, said allowing fax filings is "part of the Judicial Branch's ongoing efforts to increase public access to the courts, reduce the stress and frustration sometimes associated with litigation, and make the process less burdensome to attorney and pro se litigants."

Attorney Janice R. Calvi of the Court Operations Division also cited the benefits litigants can expect from fax filing.

"Opening our courts' doors to fax filing will bring several advantages to litigants," said Calvi, team leader for the Fax Filing Committee. "Court documents may be received in our clerks' offices more quickly if they are faxed into court. Litigants' travel time to the court to file is eliminated if they fax their documents to the appropriate Superior Court's clerk's office. Communications faxed to the courts will be convenient from anyone's home or office. Faxed motions will be transported to the court efficiently and in a timely manner. Therefore, it will be cost-effective to send pleadings to our courts by fax."

She added, "In terms of projected goals, Connecticut's courts encourage litigants to fax pleadings into the Superior Courts in an effort to move us closer to full electronic filing in Connecticut."

Attorneys Frank Finch Jr. and Frederic S. Ury, who serve on the Judicial Branch's Civil Commission, are enthusiastic about the plan as well. The Commission includes judges and lawyers who work to improve civil court procedures.

"I would say that it appears to be a major step forward," Finch, a former Connecticut Bar Association president, said. "It should increase efficiency without in any way limiting access to the courts."

He added: "If pro se litigants don't have access to fax machines, the current system will still serve them well. If they do have a fax machine, they can walk smoothly into this system."

Ury, former chairman of the Litigation Section of the Connecticut Bar Association, called fax filing "a terrific innovation."

"It's going to make life easier for law firms," Ury said. "It's going to save money and make the process more expeditious."

Courts will accept faxed documents 24 hours a day. Those received after 5 p.m. will be considered to be filed on the next day the court is open for business. To be accepted via fax, documents must be less than 20 pages, including the cover page. Except for faxed markings for the short calendar, the facsimile cover sheet available through the Judicial Branch must accompany the document unless the court directs otherwise.

Documents that commence an action or that require an oath or affirmation will not be accepted via fax transmission. Other excluded documents are: any filings that must be accompanied by a fee or other payment; criminal summonses and complaints; Uniform Arrest Reports; arrest reports; bond forms; seized property inventories; and requests, applications, petitions, and other documents pertaining to restraining orders.

The provisions have been established under Section 4-4 of the Connecticut Practice Book, which gives the Chief Court Administrator the authority to establish such procedures. Anyone with questions should contact the clerk's office in the court in which the document is to be filed. The phone number for each clerk's office is available at www.jud.ct.gov.

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