Jefferson County civil judges go 100% digital

Making paper obsolete, Jefferson County's four civil district judges have gone completely digital in 2011, requiring all new lawsuits to be filed electronically.

The push for modernization came during a July 22 budget hearing, when Jefferson County Commissioners stressed the importance for all district courts to start implementing the e-filing system, hoping to save money, time and rapidly shrinking storage space.

At that time, only Judge Bob Wortham of the 58th District Court and Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, required trial lawyers to file their lawsuits electronically.

On Dec. 21, Judge Milton Shuffield signed an order declaring that "all cases filed in the 136th District Court of Jefferson County ... be designated e-file cases."

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court, joined him two weeks later, mandating on Jan. 3 that all new cases in his court also be filed electronically.

A court official told the Southeast Texas Record that the judges made the transition to increase consistency, reduce paper waste and storage space and save money.

The e-file orders state "that each pleading in cases designated as e-file shall be fully and properly labeled, and a pleading shall deal with only one subject matter."

"Thus, for example, a Motion to Transfer Venue may not be combined with an Answer, but they shall be two separate pleadings, each labeled accordingly and filed separately.

"The purpose of this requirement is so that separate matters may be readily indexed and located in the electronic file."

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