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Lansing — The Michigan Supreme Court is taking comment on a proposal that would allow easier access for self-represented litigants who are unable to comply with e-filing requirements in Michigan courts.  

The proposed measures require trial courts with e-filing mandates to create plans to assist people representing themselves, create a uniform exemption process for them, and provide at least one computer workstation for those individuals.

The State Court Administrative Office would also require courts to train staff on how to assist self-represented individuals with filings.

The Supreme Court also is considering rules that would mandate attorneys to e-file, while leaving e-filing optional for others, said spokesman John Nevin. But in counties that mandate that all parties e-file — both attorneys and individuals representing themselves — the proposed rules would guarantee access for non-attorneys, Nevin said. 

While mandatory e-filing ensures “uniform access to local court services and resources,” people who represent themselves may find it difficult to access a computer to file and receive notices from court, Justice David Viviano said in a statement Wednesday. Court computer kiosks for those individuals could address that lack of access.

“Our goal is to improve access to all while increasing efficiency and saving money,” Viviano said in a statement.

People can send comments on the proposed rules regarding access for people representing themselves to ADMcomment@courts.mi.gov ahead of a May public hearing. The final order is expected to be in place by September.

Comment on the Supreme Court's plan to require all attorneys to e-file are due by the March 13 public hearing on the matter, Nevin said. 

Five pilot courts have had e-filing for several years and have transitioned over the years from separate systems to the statewide system. Between January 2018 and January 2019, the pilot courts in the Grand Traverse area and Wayne, Ottawa, Oakland and Macomb counties have filed more than a million documents on the system, Nevin said.

Additionally, model courts in Macomb, Washtenaw and Ottawa counties have been developing probate, district and circuit court standards for e-filing onto the statewide system. Their systems are expected to go online this spring, with an eventual statewide implementation.

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