Electronic filing, or for that matter, any filing has become an exercise in how to get through a corn maze. Out of the 88 counties in the state, the many government agencies and the federal courts, electronic filing has become a nightmare. I suspect that many of the filing portals and systems have been designed by computer persons who sit in front of a screen all day coming up with filing schemes. While they are just doing their job, our job is, as members of the bench and bar, to develop standards to bring consistency between courts, agencies and other recipients of our written brilliance so we can get documents filed.

Some courts, for example, only accept paper filing – while others probably will accept paper filing, but for the most part, require electronic filing. For each court the procedure is different, the password is different, the filing portal is different. Some have fairly straightforward procedures while some are a rabbit hole with hours consumed trying to get figure out how to get the damn thing filed.

This author tried to file a complaint with the Board of Tax Appeals recently. The time restrictions on a complaint are very stringent. File a day late and the appeal is untimely. Unfortunately for the type of appeal, the electronic portal would not allow the notice to be completed, as it required certain fields to be completed which were not applicable to the appeal. Finally, I sent the appeal by mail and it was filed timely.

Some courts accept electronic signatures, while others will send the pleading back unless the signature is an original in the opinion of the clerk. No matter whether billion-dollar transactions are completed with electronic signatures or if most medical records are signed by electronic signatures. Some courts live in the distant past.

I imagine a Russian hacker could file something in one of my electronic cases in a few minutes, as apparently passwords are notoriously subject to theft and hacking. Hackers have probably looked at my filings and went on to greener pastures. Unfortunately, we are not Russian hackers.

It is time for the Chief Justice or the Ohio State Bar Association or both to get on the ball and begin to get a handle on the issues and solutions. We have the Civil Rules and Criminal Rules which apply to all courts, then we have 88 local rules, and 88 ways to file a simple complaint. While the proliferation of rules and procedures is great for judges who like to decide cases on technicalities, rather than the merits; for litigants, it can lead to injustice, and for lawyers it leads to drinking.