Friday, July 22, 2016

Connecting the E-Filing “Pipes”

Craig VanBrussel, CTO for the First Judicial Circuit of Florida wrote after listening to the recent online Court Tech Futures webinar about how they are closing the loop with their E-filing pipes.


Craig writes:

I’ve been using your pipe analog for several years now as we completed our electronic caseflow model.  We recently closed the “electronic case loop” in our circuit by installing the last “digital pipe” – which is Judicial eFiling of signed orders back to the Florida ePortal using our eBench software Mentis SmartBench

In our model (see the diagram below):

  1. Pipe 1 is the mandatory eFiling by Attorneys to the Florida ePortal (other parties and agencies are also eFiling now)
  2. Pipe 2 is the database sync of cases from the Clerk’s CMS to our eBench servers (SmartBench)
  3. Pipe 3 is a path for exchanging electronic work documents between the clerk and the judge’s office – like orders the clerk is required to prepare daily for signature.
  4. Pipe 4 is the latest development and closes the electronic case loop – the Mentis eBench software has been connected directly back to the Florida ePortal - which allows the judge to electronically sign the order and immediately eFile the document with the Florida ePortal which delivers it to the clerk’s CMS, and eServes all of the Attorneys and other parties in the case.  

With all the “digital pipes” in place, the case moves throughout the entire court process without any paper, from original eFiling to eService of the final order.  As a result, the clerks are reporting substantial work efficiencies because signed orders now come to them in electronic format instead of paper (electronic being less labor intensive to docket), and it’s a win for attorneys and other agencies who get their orders much quicker with “Pipe 4”.

The key to the development of Pipe 4 was the Florida ePortal giving the eBench vendors access to the code for a direct connection and data exchange.  This allowed Mentis to build state ePortal functionality straight into their eBench software, e.g., pulling the case’s eService list from the ePortal. This direct connection also allows the judges to stay in their eBench environment when eFiling and eServing – improving efficiency.

Circuit-wide, to date, our Judges and court staff have eFiled and eServed over 10,000 orders and documents via Pipe 4.  We have installed this model across our circuit in all four counties (35 judges) with four different clerk offices, each with their own CMS.

Early next year we hope to reverse the flow of Pipe 4 which should produce even more efficiencies. Mentis is developing a Proposed Order module for their eBench.  This will allow attorney’s to eFile their Proposed Orders at the state ePortal and use Pipe 4 to deliver them directly to the judge’s eBench (eliminating paper and email delivery, and standardizing the submission process for attorneys which is another big win for them).  Other agencies will also be able to use this method and Pipe 4 to deliver their Proposed Orders to the judge, like State Probation and the Department of Corrections (again eliminating massive amounts of paper and speeding up the court process).  The judge will electronically sign these Proposed Orders and then eFile and eServe them back using their eBench.

In summary, once we put in the “pipes”, we used them.


Congratulations to Craig and his team.  Excellent work.

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