Rule 46: Electronic Filing.

Introduction.The Supreme Court intends to adopt electronic filing (“e-filing”) in the appellate courts at a future date. This revised Rule 46, adopted effective    [date]  , is a transitional rule authorizing parties to e-file documents voluntarily until such time that the Court adopts e-filing on a permanent basis.

Section 1. General Provisions.

            1.01. Definitions.

            (a) “Appellate Court” or “Court” means the Tennessee Supreme Court, Tennessee Court of Appeals, or Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

            (b) “Clerk” means the clerk of the appellate courts.

            (c) “E-filing fee” is a fee charged in connection with electronic filing that is in addition to statutory filing fees.

            (d) “Document” means a motion, application, request, exhibit, brief, memorandum of law, or other instrument in paper form or electronic form which is permitted to be filed pursuant to the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, the Rules of the Court of Appeals, or the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

            (e) “E-file” or “e-filing” means the electronic transmission of documents in cases pending in the appellate courts, using the dedicated e-filing system maintained by the clerk.

            (f) “E-filer” means a registered user who submits a document for e-filing through the e-filing system.

           (g) “E-filing system” means a web-based system maintained by the clerk for the purpose of providing a means for e-filers to transmit documents to the clerk for filing.

            (h) “Electronic signature” means a signature line beginning with an “s/” followed by the typewritten name of the signatory.

            (i) “E-service” means the electronic transmission of e-filed documents to a party or a party’s attorney through the e-filing system.

            (j) “Portable Document Format” or “PDF” means the computer file format developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated for representing documents in a manner that is independent of the original application software, hardware, and operating system used to create those documents.

            (k) “Registered user” means any person listed in section 2.01 who has properly registered with the clerk to e-file documents in the appellate courts.

            (l) “Terms-of-use agreement” means that agreement established by the clerk that sets forth the parameters for use of the e-filing system by all registered users.

            (m) “Transaction receipt” means an e-mail confirmation that is transmitted to an e­filer after an e-filer has submitted a document to the clerk to be filed through the e­filing system. The transaction receipt displays the date and time the document was submitted by the e-filer. The transaction receipt may serve as the e-filer’s proof of filing.

            (n) “User guide” means the court’s written guide for using the e-filing system, which shall be posted as a PDF document on the appellate courts’ website (http://www.tncourts.gov/). All e-filers should periodically check the appellate courts’ website for updates to the user guide.

            1.02. Application of the Rule.This rule applies to all cases filed in the appellate courts. Except as provided in this rule, any document may be e-filed that otherwise would be filed in the appellate court as a paper document in accordance with the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, the Rules of the Court of Appeals, or the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Such e-filings shall constitute the official filing of such documents for purposes of the foregoing rules.

            The appellate court may, on motion for good cause shown or on the court’s own initiative, waive any provision of this rule.

Section 2. Registered Users.

            2.01. Registered Users.The following persons may e-file documents upon completion of the registration requirements of this rule:

            (a) Attorneys licensed to practice law in Tennessee;

            (b) Attorneys admitted or who seek to be admitted pro hac vice pursuant to Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 19.

            2.02. Registration.Any person listed in section 2.01 who desires to e-file documents in the appellate courts shall register with the clerk. Upon receipt of a properly executed terms-of-use agreement, the e-filing system shall generate to the registered user an initial confidential log-in name and password to access the e-filing system. Each registered user shall safeguard the registered user’s log-in name and password and any e-filing shall be presumed authorized by the registered user whose log-in name and password were used to transmit said e-filing. Except as expressly permitted in this rule, documents shall be e-filed using the log-in name and password of the registered user who signed the document being filed. Registration with the clerk constitutes consent by the registered user to receive electronic service of all documents and electronic notices issued by the appellate court or the clerk.

            2.03. Duty of Registered User to Update Contact Information.Registered users shall change their profile maintained in the e-filing system immediately upon any change in the registered user’s name, law firm name, delivery address, telephone number, fax number, or e-mail address. E-service on an obsolete e-mail address shall constitute valid service on the registered user.

            2.04. User Guide.The clerk will provide all registered users with access to an online user guide to assist them in e-filing.

Section 3. Filing and Service Procedures.

            3.01. Time and Effect of E-Filing.

            (a) Filed upon transmission. Subject to acceptance by the clerk pursuant to paragraph (b), any document electronically submitted for filing shall be considered filed with the court when the transmission to the court’s e-filing system is completed. Upon receipt of the transmitted document, the e-filing system shall automatically e-mail a transaction receipt to the e-filer, stating that the transmission of the document was completed and also stating the date and time of the document’s receipt. The e-filer is responsible for verifying that the court received and filed the document transmitted. Absent confirmation of receipt, there is no presumption that the court received and filed the document. The transaction receipt shall serve as proof of filing. 

            (b) Review by clerk. The clerk may review the document to determine if it conforms with the applicable filing requirements. If the clerk rejects the document for filing because it does not comply with the applicable filing requirements or because any required filing fee has not been paid, the clerk must promptly send notice to the registered user who filed the document; the notice must set forth the reason(s) the document was rejected for filing. If the clerk rejects the filing, the clerk may, in his or her discretion, give the filing party up to 3 days to correct the deficient filing; upon the filing party’s timely submission of a corrected filing, the filing shall relate back to the date of the initial filing. Notification that the clerk has accepted the document for filing is not required.

            (c) “Filed” Stamp. E-filed documents accepted for filing by the clerk shall have a “filed” stamp affixed by the clerk. The clerk’s stamp of an e-filed document must contain the following: “Electronically Filed/[Date] and Time/[Name of Clerk].” This “electronically filed” stamp has the same force and effect as a manually affixed “filed” stamp of the clerk.

            (d) Time of filing. Any document e-filed by 11:59 p.m. at the clerk’s local time in the grand division in which the appeal lies shall be deemed to be filed on that date, so long as it is accepted by the clerk upon review.

             (e) Documents Filed by the Court. The court may electronically transmit orders, opinions, judgments, and other court-issued documents through the appellate courts’ e-filing system.

            When a document electronically transmitted by the court for filing by the clerk requires the signature of the judge(s), clerk, or authorized deputy clerk, the signature may be reflected at the end of the document by means of an electronic signature in the format: “s/ [judge’s/clerk’s/deputy clerk’s name],” followed by the appropriate title (i.e., “Judge,” “Clerk,” “Deputy Clerk”). Any order, opinion, judgment, or other court-issued document filed electronically without the handwritten signature of the judge(s), clerk, or authorized deputy clerk but containing an approved electronic signature has the same effect as if the judge or clerk had signed a paper copy of the filing. 

            3.02. Format of Documents.

            (a) All e-filed documents shall be formatted in accordance with the terms-of-use agreement and the applicable rules of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, the Rules of the Court of Appeals, and the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals governing formatting of paper-filed documents in the appellate courts, except that the provisions of the Rules of Appellate Procedure, the Rules of the Court of Appeals, and the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals relating to the number of copies, the color of the cover page, and the types of paper shall not apply.

            (b) All original documents (e.g., applications, briefs, motions, memoranda of law, and similar documents) that are e-filed shall be prepared through direct conversion from the word processing file to Portable Document Format and not through scanning of the original paper document. Notwithstanding the foregoing sentence, all attachments and appendices containing photocopies of documents may be scanned into Portable Document Format. E-filed PDF documents shall be text searchable, if possible.

            3.03. Payment of Filing Fees.

            (a) Unless excused by statute or the Court, statutory filing fees or other statutorily permitted fees and taxes required to be paid at the time of filing of an e-filed document  must be paid with an approved form of electronic payment at the time of e-filing.

            (b) E-filing fees paid by the filing party are recoverable costs for purposes of Tenn. R. App. P. 40(c).

            3.04. Signatures.

            (a) Registered User’s Signature. A registered user’s use of the assigned log-in name and password to e-file a document serves as that user’s signature on that document for all purposes. The identity of the e-filer must be reflected at the end of the document by means of an electronic signature, followed by the user’s name, business address, telephone number, e-mail address, and number assigned by the Board of Professional Responsibility, if applicable.

            (b) Multiple signatures. An e-filer e-filing a document requiring the signatures of multiple attorneys (e.g., stipulations) must list thereon the names of all other attorney signatories and include their electronic signatures. By e-filing such a document, the e-filer certifies that each of the other attorneys has expressly agreed to the form and substance of the document, and that the e-filer has their permission to e-file the document. In the alternative, the e-filer may submit a scanned document containing all necessary signatures.

            (c) Signatures Under Penalty of Perjury and Notarized Signatures. Documents required by law to include a signature under penalty of perjury, or the signature of a notary public, may be e-filed, provided that the declarant or notary public has signed a printed form of the document. The printed document bearing the original signatures must be scanned as a PDF in a format that accurately reproduces the original signatures and contents of the document and electronically submitted for filing.

            (d) Effect of Signatures on E-Filed Documents. Any filing made under this rule shall bind the signatory as if a paper document were physically signed and filed. An e-filing therefore shall function as the signatory’s attestation to the truthfulness of an e-filed affidavit, declaration, or certification, or as a validly signed document for any other purpose under the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure or other court rule.

Section 4. Electronic Service.

            4.01. Automatic Service by E-Filing System.Upon the receipt of an e-filed document, the e-filing system will automatically generate and send by e-mail a notice of filing along with the document to all registered users participating in the case. This automatically generated notice shall constitute proper service of the e-filed document on those registered users and shall have the same legal effect as service of a paper document under Tenn. R. App. P. 20. Independent service, either by paper or otherwise, need not be made on any registered user receiving e-service. Attorneys and self-represented parties who did not receive e-service must be served by the e-filer through the conventional means of service set forth in Tenn. R. App. P. 20.

            4.02. E-Service of Documents Filed by the Court.The clerk’s e-service on a registered user of a notice, order, opinion, or judgment filed by the court shall constitute proper service and shall satisfy the notice requirements of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, including the mailing requirements of Tenn. R. App. P. 5(c), 23, and 38.

Section 5. Effect of Technical Failure in E-Filing.

            5.01. Motion to File Document Nunc Pro Tunc.If the e-filing does not occur because of: (1) a technical error in the transmission of the document to the clerk, which error was unknown to the sending party, (2) a failure to process the electronic document when received by the clerk, (3) rejection of the transmitted document by the court or clerk, or (4) other technical problems experienced by either the e-filer or the clerk, the court may, upon motion of the filing party, enter an order directing that the document be filed nunc pro tunc to the date the document was first attempted to be filed electronically. If the court directs the filing of the document nunc pro tunc, the court also shall extend the date for filing any response to the delayed filing and may extend the period within which any other right, duty, or other act must be performed.

            5.02. E-Filing System Outage.In the event the e-filing system is offline for technical reasons for a significant portion of a particular day, the clerk, in his or her discretion, is authorized to issue a written declaration that the e-filing system is unavailable for filing on that day, in which event all filings due on that day from Registered Users shall be deemed to be timely if filed the following day. If the clerk issues such a declaration, no party is required to file a motion seeking permission to file a document nunc pro tunc, pursuant to section 5.01.

[Implemented by order filed July 21, 2006; effective August 1, 2006; and as repealed in its entirety and replaced by order filed November 6, 2015; effective date shall be delayed, pending further order of the Court, to allow the Administrative Office of the Courts to issue a request for proposal and thereafter complete the contractual process for implementing the revised rule.]

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