Delaware court OKs CD filings

Superior Court of Delaware

In a state known for firsts, Delaware's Superior Court claims to be the

first to allow parties to submit filings on CD-ROM.

The new order, adopted and implemented this summer, amends Superior

Court Civil Rule 107, permitting any party to "serve and file identical

copies of any brief and exhibits on CD-ROM."

The state was also the first to create an electronic docketing and filing

system for civil cases, in 1991.

Delaware's order outlines the steps parties must take to file a CD-ROM,

such as correct labeling and number of copies and making it virus-free.

It also lists what should be included on the disk — such as images of the

signed brief and exhibits — and describes how the disk should be formatted.

Henry duPont Ridgely, the Superior Court's president judge, said CD-ROMs

are space-savers because they can store the equivalent of 100,000 word-processed

pages.

"Given the complex nature of some of the commercial litigation we have,

we have space issues of where to store and file materials," he said. "This

is helping to address that. This is also helping us to go through the briefs

and the citations, which are given on a more expedited basis."

The legal filings appear on the screen in Portable Document Format,

which can include hyperlinks to cited cases, statutes, case law or exhibits

on the CD-ROM.

"If a case is cited, it would be the equivalent of somebody photocopying

every reference and providing them every reference," Ridgely said.

Ridgely said certain federal courts have allowed attorneys to file CD-ROMs

on a case-by-case basis dating back to 1997, but Delaware is the first state

to promulgate a rule. In August 1999, Delaware's Court of Chancery was the

first to accept briefs submitted on CD-ROM, which was a sort of pilot project

for the state, Ridgely said.

But no CD-ROM briefs have been filed in the state since then, he said,

because lawyers are still adapting to the technology. But Ridgely said he

expects lawyers in an upcoming tobacco litigation case to file briefs on

CD-ROM beginning in December.

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