POSTED: Monday, December 30, 2013 - 6:08pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - 10:58am
EDINBURG, TX (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — A state mandate is taking effect beginning Wednesday and Hidalgo County officials say they're ready for it.
Starting in 2014, the majority of documents going through the Hidalgo County Courthouse will need to be filed electronically.
Most civil or family court documents going through the court system will not longer be accepted on paper if filed by an attorney. Civilians can still file over-the-counter if they are representing themselves in court.
What is still exempt from the mandate are criminal court documents.
"There will be less chance of human error with regards to documents possibly being misplaced or mis-filed," Hidalgo County Clerk Laura Hinojosa said. "Because a lot of the burden really falls on the filer, the filer being the attorneys."
Hidalgo County buildings will be closed on January 1 when the law takes effect, so it will essentially take effect on January 2.
The full Hidalgo County press release:
Edinburg, Texas – Though Hidalgo County offices will be closed for business on January 1 in observance of the New Year holiday, attorneys and filers will be able to access some County government services by means of the new e-filing system for non-criminal cases. Beginning January 1, 2014, all Hidalgo County filings for civil cases in Hidalgo County must be submitted electronically. This means that attorneys will no longer be able to manually file cases in person at the courthouse and must submit documents electronically using the TexFile electronic filing system through one of the state certified e-filing service providers of their choice.
The mandatory transition to e-filing marks one of the greatest changes in procedures to happen to the courthouse in years. In December 2012, the Supreme Court of Texas mandated electronic filing in all non-criminal cases in accordance with a phased approach based on County population. The Supreme Court mandate aims to address inefficiencies and expenses relating to the processing, management and storing of paper court documents. As one of the top ten counties based on population, Hidalgo County’s timeline for complying with the mandatory e-filing begins on January 1, 2014. The mandate applies to all civil cases, including family and probate cases, by attorneys in appellate courts, district courts, statutory county courts, constitutional county courts, and statutory probate courts.
Hidalgo County officials have been preparing for this mandatory transition for several months; on September 17, 2013 they commenced a voluntary transition to e-filing. The purpose of the early transition was to allow attorneys and their staff, and other filers, enough time to become accustomed to using the new electronic filing system and procedures to ensure 100% compliance with the new law in January. The County hosted an E-filing Service Provider (EFSP) fair at the courthouse, where dozens of attorneys were in attendance to meet with state certified vendors offering e-filing services, view their products and services, and discuss any questions or concerns. The County also hosted several e-filing webinar trainings and question-and-answer sessions at the courthouse auditorium for attorneys and filers to get a live demonstration and training of the systems available to them.
For more information, visit www.co.hidalgo.tx.us/efiling .