Should efiling fees be charged per case, or per document? Texas Senate Jurisprudence Committee debated the subject.

Legislature after legislature is dealing with the question of efiling in state courts as courts themselves grapple with the subject. In December 2012 the Texas Supreme Court issued an order effectively mandating efiling in civil cases in the state’s trial courts (except justice court) over the next 4 years

  • January 1, 2014, all appellate courts +  trial courts in counties with a population of 500,000 or more
  • July 1, 2014, trial courts in counties with 200,000 to 499,999
  • January 1,2015, trial courts in counties with 100,000 to 199,999
  • July 1, 2015, trial courts in counties with 50,000 to 99,999
  • January 1,2016, trial courts in counties with 20,000 to 49,999
  • July 1, 2016, trial courts in counties with fewer than 20,000

The question then turned to funding for efiling: should an efiling fee be put on the filing of each document filed, or as a lump sum one-time addition? And which would allow for enough funding to implement the system?

SB 1466 of 2013 as introduced would opt for the one-time only fee: $15 added to civil filing fee in probate, county, and district courts and Supreme Court; $5 additionally for criminal convictions from the justice, county and district courts. As came out in testimony, the amount will likely need to be increased to $20 in the form of a committee amendment later.

The fees would go to a Statewide Electronic Filing Fund, appropriated to the Office of Court Administration and the Supreme Court, for the electronic filing system. Testifying on the bill was the Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson and David W. Slayton, Administrative Director of the Texas Office of Court Administration.

The bill was debated, and left pending, in the Senate Jurisprudence Committee on March 19.