Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Wisconsin

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Newsletter, October 2000

Convenient Filing Option

In order to provide better service, we will begin to accept and file petitions for all Eau Claire matters at the Eau Claire courthouse.  The staff will accept petition, fees, and all other matters which, until recently, could only be filed in the Madison Office.

We hope this will provide a convenient service for counsel in the cities of Eau Claire, La Crosse, Marshfield, Wausau, and surrounding municipalities.  It is part of our plan to improve our customer services by reducing the use of mail and express service, and by permitting easier access to court documents for local members of the bar and the public.

Spring Seminar

The next State Bar of Wisconsin's Northwestern Wisconsin Bankruptcy Institute is set for Friday, May 11, 2001, at the Ramada Inn in Eau Claire.  As a follow-up to the last program, there will be an update on Electronic Case Filing in addition to other bankruptcy issues.

How are we doing?

Enclosed with this issue of the newsletter is a brief customer service survey.  We have designed the survey to require no more than five minutes time to complete.  Additional copies will be available at the service counters in the Madison and Eau Claire offices.  Copies will also be included in any return envelopes provided to our office with filings.  We urge you to have everyone on your staff who works with our office complete at least one.  We value your input!

Staff Changes

Terry Payne (Madison) has been promoted to Automation Specialist.  In that capacity, Terry is responsible for staff automation training and will be a member of our Electronic Case Filing (ECF) training team, which will be working with the bar to familiarize and implement ECF.

Susan Hoffman (Eau Claire) and Jolene Fisher (Madison) have been promoted to Case Administrator/Trainers.  They will be developing ECF education programs and working with Terry to provide hands-on training and assistance to you.  Jolene and Susan have extensive experience in adult learning, have conducted training in our court and as guest trainers outside this district, and are already working on some ECF-related projects.

Tina Godding and Steve Wolfgram recently joined us as Case Administrators in Madison.  Tina was formerly employed as a legal secretary.  Steve is a recent UW-Madison graduate who worked part-time as a legal secretary.  Welcome!

Electronic Case Filing

Our Administrative Office recently solicited applications from all 90 bankruptcy courts to determine the order of implementation.  To date, we are among 27 courts requesting early consideration.  We estimate six courts will receive approval to begin the transition process in the spring of 2001; thereafter the system will be "rolled out" in waves of 4-6 courts. 

Questions & Answers

What is Electronic Case Files (ECF)?

ECF is a solution to the judiciary's case management and filing needs.  It was motivated by the necessity of replacing an aging system.  Today's technology has advanced to the point that information can be efficiently and securely exchanged electronically.  Accordingly, the system includes the capability for electronic files, including the ability to accept case filing over the Internet.

What does ECF do?

ECF allows all documents associated with a court case to be managed electronically.  Advantages of ECF include making concurrently available complete case files to multiple users.  Notices of filing are automatically transmitted to case participants, and all documents are instantly accessible, 24 hours a day.  Since ECF allows attorneys to file documents and create docket entries over the Internet, savings are also realized in the form of reduced mailing, courier and express mail costs.  Additionally, access to files and other documents is not restricted to the hours which the clerk's office keeps.

How will court staff and attorneys be trained?

Each court will be responsible for training staff and attorney users.  Satellite broadcasts and computer-based training (CBT) modules will be available to educate court and public users, with the individual courts responsible for administering the program.  In the Western District, we plan to offer a variety of option; in-house at the courthouse; at off-site locations; or at law firms.

Will attorneys be able to access the ECF system after the court's regular business hours to file cases and review documents/docket sheets?

The system can be made available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  However, courts may choose to limit access after normal court work hours by local rule or procedure. 

Will federal or local rules be in place to establish procedures for electronic filing?

The Federal Rules of Procedure currently authorize individual courts to permit electronic filing of documents by local rule.  See Fed. R. Civ. P. 5(e); Fed. R. Crim. P. 49(d); Fed. R. App. P. 25(a)(2)(D); Fed. R. Bankr. P. 5005(a)(2), 7005, 8008(a).

Give us your e-mail!

Attorneys, interested parties and staff, give us your e-mail addresses.  We hope to begin utilizing e-mail for notification of upcoming news (e.g., an electronic version of this newsletter), events, and more.  ECF can also use e-mail for filing notification and our current PACER and Web PACER systems may be modified to include attorney contact e-mail addresses, together with phone numbers and addresses.

No, we will not bombard you with e-mail or share our e-mail lists with other parties, but we do hope to continue to improve our procedures by using e-mail as another means of providing information.

If you wish to subscribe to an electronic version of this newsletter, simply e-mail us at the address below and put "Subscribe" in the Re or Subject line of the message.

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