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E-Filing During Court Closures Due to COVID-19
E-filing allows filers to submit documents to open court cases and e-file documents 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. E-filing remains open and available to all parties during court closures due to COVID-19. Except for documents related to hearings being conducted during the closure, documents that are submitted for filing during the closure will have a filing date on the next day that is not a judicial holiday if the document meets appropriate criteria for filing. Due to the volume of documents submitted during the closure, processing of submitted documents may be delayed.
E-FILING INFORMATION AND FAQ
Pursuant to Local Rules 18.22 et seq. effective January 1, 2020: “Subject to the exceptions in Local Rule 18.23, all represented parties, and other represented persons, are required to electronically file documents…for the following Case Types/Categories: 1. All Civil Matters; 2. All Probate Matters; 3. All Family Law Matters (including Department of Child Support Services matters).” Note that “Self-represented parties, or other self-represented persons, are exempt from mandatory electronic filing requirements….” Note that fees associated with e-filing are waived for individuals who have a demonstrated inability to pay court fees.
Electronically filed documents can be submitted until 11:59 pm on the day that the filing is due, and will be considered timely pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1010.6 subdivision (d)(1)(D), except that if same day service of a document is required, the document shall be filed by 5 p.m. on the court date that the filing is due. A document is deemed “filed” on the date and time the court receives it, and the confirmation of receipt is created. See Cal. Rules of Court, rule 2.259(a)(1). Any electronically filed document received by the Court after 11:59 pm will receive a file date of the next court day.
- How do parties obtain hearing dates?
A hearing date will be printed on the copy of the document returned to you after acceptance.
- What if my hearing or document is due within 24 hours or needs immediate attention?
For all cases relevant to an upcoming hearing date, please include the hearing date in the filing description box. Example: “HRG 4/2/21 DEPT 22” or “HRG 4/2/21 DEPT 18.” If your hearing date is within 24 hours or was ordered by the court to be filed today, or you have some other reason to contact the court about an urgent filing, please call the court, between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:00 pm, at 707-521-1050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, so that we can expedite the processing of your documents. Please make sure that you have your e-Filing envelope number so that we can better assist you.
- Are ex-parte procedures available for e-filing?
Ex Parte requests are accepted in the Family Law and Probate Division. Ex Parte requests as referenced in Local Rule 5.6 are not accepted in the Civil Division at this time.
- What if the court does not accept my documents for e-Filing?
The filer will receive a response indicating the filing was rejected and providing reason(s).
- What effect, if any, does a clerk’s rejection of an e-Filed document have on the filing date?
Clerks will not file a rejected document. Therefore there is no effect on hearing dates.
- How do parties ask the court questions regarding e-Filing?
Parties seeking information regarding e-Filing should first read these FAQs, 1010.6 of the Code of Civil Procedure, and rules 2.250-2.261 of the California Rules of Court. Otherwise, parties may submit questions to the court’s e-Filing questions voicemail at 707-521-1050
- How do parties obtain endorsed filed copies of e-Filed documents?
The court will return accepted and filed documents, to the filing parties through their EFSP.
- How does a party receive documents that require original signatures?
Documents that require original signatures may be picked up at the respective clerk’s office or mailed at an additional cost.
- How do parties e-File uncontested orders or “orders up”?
These documents are e-Filed using the regular e-Filing process and should be submitted as a Proposed Order/Judgment.
- Can I e-file documents if my case is ordered sealed by the Court?
If a case is ordered sealed by the court, it is not eligible for e-Filing. Because it is sealed, your Electronic Filing Service Provider will not have any information regarding your case. Please submit your documents at the appropriate courthouse if they are for a case that has been sealed by the court.
The answer above does not apply to Unlawful Detainer cases, which can be e-Filed.
- Are courtesy copies required in addition to my e-filed document?
Yes, courtesy copies of documents are required as outlined in Sonoma County Superior Court, Local Rules. Please submit any required courtesy copies directly to the department.
- Can I submit my petition for change of name or gender electronically?
Yes, both Petition for Change of Name and Petition for Change of Gender (except “Safe at Home”) can be submitted electronically.
- How do I submit letters and orders for Probate, Guardianship, and Conservatorships?
Letters and the corresponding orders may be submitted together with the petition or another respective filing.
- How do I submit letters and orders for LPS matters?
Letters and the corresponding orders may be submitted together with the petition or another respective filing.
- Are there any exemptions for parties and attorneys from mandatory e-Filing?
Yes. California Rules of Court, rule 2.253 subdivision (b)(4) provides, in pertinent part: “A party or other person that is required to file and serve documents electronically must be excused from the requirements if the party or other person shows undue hardship or significant prejudice.” If you believe that mandatory e-Filing will cause undue hardship or significant prejudice, you should fill out and file Judicial Council form EFS-007 (https://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/efs007.pdf ).
- How will I receive the Notice of Assignment and Notice of Case Management Conference that the court generates with each new filing?
- The court will mail the Notice of Assignment to the submitting party unless a blank Notice of Assignment is submitted in the e-Filing envelope. If a party includes a blank Notice of Assignment in the envelope, it will be returned to the submitting party through the e-Filing system. A blank Notice of Assignment is available on the court’s website under Local Forms.
- How do I submit a proposed order in word processing format under Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1312(c)(2) and Local Rules 6.2.D and 18.26?
- When required, proposed orders in word processing format should be emailed directly to the department using the following email format: EFileProposedOrderDeptemail@example.com --replace the # sign with the Department’s number. Please note the case number in the subject line of your email. If successful, you will receive an email confirming receipt. Note that this email is only for proposed orders in word processing format pursuant to Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1312(c)(2) and Local Rules 6.2.D and 18.26. All other emails sent to these addresses will not be read and will be deleted.
FEES, COST & FEE WAIVERS
- What are the fees and costs associated with e-Filing?
Regular court filing fees, an eFiling Service Provider’s fee, a creditcard processing fee of 2.75% of the total payment, and an EFSP filing fee will be assessed. Each electronic filing service provider charges a fee for e-Filing. For more information on these fees, please contact your electronic filing service provider directly.
- What are the fees for law and motion filings in a Civil Unlimited/Limited matter?
The standard California filing fee applies to the motion (usually $60 for the motion). Superior Court, County of Sonoma requires the additional fee of $30 be included with ANY law and motion filing to provide for court reporting services. Add the fee “Court Reporter ($30)” under “Optional Services.”
- How do I e-File a fee waiver application?
If you are applying for a fee waiver you must complete Judicial Council forms FW-001 (Request to Waive Court Fees) and FW-003 (Order on Court Fees). Submit these forms in the same transaction as your filing(s) with the FW-001 (Request) as the lead or first document (PDF). Contact your EFSP for guidance on submitting multiple filings in one transaction. NOTE: If multiple parties are requesting to waive fees, a separate FW-001, (Request to Waive Court Fees) and, FW-003, (Order on Court Fees), are needed for each party, or court costs may still incur. This requirement includes married couples who are filing as separate parties.
- Will I be charged a court filing fee if I submit a Fee Waiver Application and Fee Waiver Order with my filing?
You will not be charged court filing fees for documents submitted with a fee waiver. However, you may be ordered to repay amounts that were waived if the court finds you were not eligible for the fee waiver or if at any time the court modifies, terminates or withdraws the fee waiver.
- What if my Fee Waiver is denied?
The court will notify you if your fee waiver is denied. You have ten days after the clerk gives the notice to submit any fees due or request a hearing by submitting judicial council form FW-006 (Request for Hearing About Court Fee Waiver Order). If you fail to pay the fee or request a hearing, the filing(s) will be voided.
- Will I be charged court fees if I have a granted fee waiver on file?
The court will not charge filing fees for documents submitted if a granted fee waiver is on file. Contact your EFSP regarding waived vendor fees. To expedite the process, please notate in the submitter’s comment box “granted fee waiver on file.”
- Are EFSP vendor fees waived with a court fee waiver?
No, EFSP fees are not court fees, contact your EFSP regarding waived vendor fees.
- Do parties still have to pay EFSP fees for documents that are rejected by the court?
Yes, as EFSP fees are not court fees, parties will pay fees based on their selected EFSP.
- When the court returns e-Filed documents, do parties have to pay an additional e-Filing fee to re-filed those documents?
Please consult with your EFSP.
- Are documents submitted to the court for e-Filing required to be searchable?
Yes, all documents submitted for e-Filing must conform with California Rules of Court, rule 2.256 subdivision (b).
- How are e-Filed documents signed?
California Rules of Court, rule 2.257 outlines requirements for signatures on documents submitted electronically to the court. While digital signatures are not required, if you choose to utilize them for your filing, please contact your electronic filing service provider for reference materials on how to set up digital signatures.
- Do all e-Filed documents require a face page?
When submitting documents for e-Filing, the first page of each document must comply with California Rules of Court, rule 2.111. Please note documents should not need to be divided due to their size, if you have a question about submitting a large filing, please contact your electronic filing service provider for assistance.
- What if my documents contain confidential identifiers?
It is the responsibility of the party or their attorney to exclude or redact confidential identifiers identified in California Rules of Court, rule 1.201. The court clerk will not review each pleading or other paper for compliance.
- What is the purpose of the submitter’s comment box?
The Submitter's Comment Box is a great tool that can be used to communicate to the clerk who will be processing this document. In this box, you can include the items that you or your attorney service would normally communicate to the clerk at the counter, such as alternate hearing dates for your motion or special handling instructions for your lodged or filed under seal documents.
- Are tabs required for my e-filed law and motion documents?
Yes, all electronically filed law and motion documents must have exhibits tabbed. Electronic Tabbing is called bookmarking. Bookmarking of documents is extremely important as it aids legal research attorneys and judicial officers in their review of documents submitted electronically. For help with how to electronically bookmark documents, please contact your electronic filing service provider.
- What types of documents can be uploaded?
PDF files (or documents in a word processing format that will be converted to a PDF file can be uploaded.) For a complete listing, please contact your Electronic Filing Service Provider). If you choose to scan documents, we recommend scanning at a resolution of 300 dpi; this will allow you to maximize the number of pages per megabyte while maintaining readability.
- Is there a limit to the size (megabytes) of my document?
Individual documents as large as 25 megabytes and a transaction up to 35 megabytes can be accepted. If you believe your document or transaction may exceed these limits, please contact the electronic filing service provider for assistance in optimizing your files and utilizing their File Transfer Protocol (FTP) for extremely large documents.
DOCUMENTS THAT CANNOT BE E-FILED:
- Records and cases under seal;
- Ex parte applications/documents that are required to be presented to the Assigned Judge pursuant to Local Rule 5.6;
- Bench Warrants;
- Subpoenaed documents;
- Labor Commissioner deposit of cash or check;
- Bonds; and
- Affidavit re: Real Property of Small Value;
- Letters (probate, guardianship, conservatorship);
- Subpoenaed documents;
- Undertakings; and
- Will/Codicils – originals for filing or safekeeping.
- Declaration for Default for Uncontested Judgment, Judgment, and Notice of Entry of Judgment