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 if they wish to file a CD-ROM, such as labeling it correctly, providing the appropriate number of copies and ensuring that the disc is virus-free. The order also lists what should be included on the disc — such as images of the signed brief and exhibits — and describes how the disc 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.

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 expected lawyers in an upcoming tobacco litigation case to file briefs on CD-ROM beginning in December.

The Superior Court can be found on the World Wide Web at courts.state.de.us/superior.

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