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Legal Notes Blog > September 2017

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 By: Attorney Ellen French

                Under Wis. Stat. §801.18, the Wisconsin Court System began its transition to mandatory electronic filing (e-filing).  The transition began over one year ago with Dodge County becoming the first county to utilize mandatory e-filing.  Since that time, mandatory e-filing has been rolled out in phases, as additional counties transition into compliance with the new statutory requirements.  On September 1, 2017, Milwaukee County entered the realm of mandatory e-filing.[1]  At this time, there remain only three (3) counties in Wisconsin that do not have mandatory e-filing: Brown, Monroe, and Burnett.[2]  However, these counties are scheduled to implement mandatory e-filing in October 2017.

                The implementation has created many clear benefits for participants.  First and foremost, for attorneys who practice in a variety of venues, e-filing allows quick filing of documents when the statute of limitations may otherwise pose an obstacle.  Accordingly, a Milwaukee attorney could e-file a Summons and Complaint in Door County with the click of a button.  Furthermore, e-filing creates ease in quickly obtaining documents filed by opposing parties.

                However, for attorneys practicing Collections Law, mandatory e-filing creates a unique dilemma for post-judgment collections, especially for older judgments.  As the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access website (CCAP) records cases as “closed” once judgment has been entered, the cases will need to be converted to e-filing in order to comply with the requirements of Wis. Stat. §801.18.  Creditors’ attorneys must be conscious of the transition to mandatory e-filing in particular counties, as a request of the Court must be made to convert the case to e-filing.  Thus, to commence post-judgment executions that require court involvement such as wage and non-earnings garnishments, a letter or other similar request must be sent to the Court and the case will be converted to e-filing.  When the case has been converted to e-filing, the filings may resume under the new e-filing system implemented.

                While the process seems to be relatively straightforward, the delays in larger counties which are just beginning the implementation of mandatory e-filing pose an interesting scenario.  Creditors’ attorneys will need to weigh the additional time in having a judgment case converted to e-filing against any voluntary payment arrangements that can be worked out with a consumer.  As previously noted above, Milwaukee County recently transitioned to mandatory e-filing at the beginning of September 2017.  Firms must be cognizant of the large volume of cases which will need conversion to e-filing and plan accordingly to be proactive in converting cases with active garnishments so to avoid a lag in re-filing a garnishment action due to e-filing conversion.  If properly timed, a firm may be able to convert a case while the previous garnishment is running and e-file the new garnishment action as it would have done prior to mandatory e-filing.

                Certainly, the hurdles created by mandatory e-filing will be fleeting as cases which were commenced electronically will always be stored in that manner.  For these cases, there will be no growing pains and post-judgment collections should be a seamless transition.  Similarly, as cases continue to be converted, the multitude of files that will require conversion to e-filing should dwindle.  Finally, as mandatory e-filing is still a new process in the Wisconsin Courts System, it is to be expected that the process will increase in efficiency and speed as court officials and attorneys alike become more familiar with the nuances of mandatory e-filing.

Posted: 9/11/2017 9:58:01 AM by Tom Connor | with 0 comments