March-April 2008

From the CCA: how to file an emergency email

In October, the Court of Criminal Appeals initiated a procedure for emergency filing time-sensitive pleadings. The procedure is intended to be rarely used and limited to uncommon circumstances. The court’s experience with users of the procedure thus far indicates that a more detailed explanation is needed.

First, the system is strictly limited to time-critical matters, such as an imminent execution, writ of prohibition requesting protetction from an imminent act that would cause irreparable injury, or writ of mandamus requesting protection from imminent irreparable injury arising from a failure to act. For example, at 4:30 p.m., a trial court orders counsel, for either the State or the defendant, to turn over to opposing counsel by 9:00 the following morning, documents that constitute work product. Counsel may then properly use the emergency email filing system to file for leave to file a writ of prohibition and the application for a writ.

Second, if using the system is appropriate, do not dawdle. You must telephone the court clerk’s office during normal business hours (8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.) to notify it that you wish to file an emergency pleading. If the clerk’s office is expecting a filing, someone will remain in the office to receive it. If you do not notify the clerk’s office of your intent, you risk not having anyone on the other end to receive the pleading.

Third, file the pleading as an attachment via the email link embedded in the email-filing site. Please note that the system does not handle files larger than 5 MB. Confirm by telephone that the clerk’s office has received the filing.

Fourth, if you use the emergency filing system, you must still serve all those who must be served if the pleading were filed by submitting paper documents to the court.

Fifth, you must still file paper pleadings that conform to the appellate rules by 9:30 a.m. CST on the next business day.

We state again that the system is designed to be used rarely. Amended pleadings on pending motions, petitions, or applications do not qualify. Motions for rehearing do not qualify. Administrative matters such as extensions of time to file, requests for oral argument, motions to withdraw, or requests to file a petition that exceeds the page limit do not qualify. The vast majority of complaints commonly pled on writ applications do not quality. The dispositive question is this:  Will something legally disastrous occur in the immediate future if I don’t file this pleading right now? If the answer is yes, call the clerk. If the answer is no, pack up an original and 11 copies, and head to the post office.