E-filing in Housing Court – Tyler Technologies and Judge Gelinas

This is part of the Worcester Rental Real Estate Networking and Training series.

 

[Start 0:00:00]
Judge Gelinas: It’s a great pleasure to be here with the MassLandlords. I served for 25 years in the District Court in Fitchburg and sat throughout Worcester County and Middlesex County, and in those days, we heard all of the landlord-tenants cases. There was no housing court when I began in 1973, so I’m intimately familiar with the difficulties that landlords face and the tension that kind of exists between landlords and tenants.
Among other things, I used to hear those cases informally and I would just let everybody come up to the bench and talk to me about what the problem was and whether there could be a resolution or whether there couldn’t be. Then if there couldn’t be, how much time would be needed for the tenant to vacate. We had pretty good results by kind of doing it on an informal basis rather than to have people standing at tables and making presentations and not quite knowing how to do that.
After my retirement, I got interested in the IT department, and they have given me some work to do. I now work 2 days a week for the trial court, and I also work 1 day a week for the Rollstone Bank & Trust up in Leominster, and that keeps me out of trouble and keeps my wife happy because I’m out of the house, so we just keep rolling along.
Last couple of years, three or four years, I’ve been working on this e-filing project, and it is the absolute wave of the future. It’s coming shortly. Well, I don’t want to say too short, but it’s probably going to become mandatory sooner than later, and so people are going to have to use the e-filing method to file their cases in court.
We went through a very lengthy process internally at the court system with a trial court-wide and appellate-court wide committee. We put out an RFR and an RFP, and we ended up with the selection of Tyler Technologies of Texas to do a series of pilot programs for us and to implement e-filing as we go along.
We’re now in about the third year of the implementation. We have e-filing available now in all district courts in the Commonwealth for civil cases, for small claims, and for supplementary process.
We have small claims filings. By the end of this month will be available in housing courts of Western Mass, Central Mass. By the way, the Worcester Housing Court is going to be renamed the Central Housing Court, and Boston Housing Court is going to be renamed the Eastern Housing Court, and the Northeast Housing Court, those four courts will have e-filing available for small claims.
We are working as I was discussing at the table, we are working with a group headed by Chief Justice Sullivan of the Housing Court to develop a plan for summary process and for evictions. There are certain statutory and technical difficulties that we need to overcome and either make standing orders or rules or maybe for, or maybe even get some statutory change for to permit the e-filing of supplementary process, but that’s coming very, very soon, we hope.
We thought it would be helpful if we gave landlords, many of whom file their own summary process, to give them a presentation on e-filing and introduce you to the concept. If you like the concept, be sure to let your housing court people know about it, and I’ve had an interesting discussion at the table tonight with some of the ins and outs of how we might best do a workflow process and we’re certainly going to follow-up and get that pretty well lined-up so I can at least make a presentation to the group that will be making the decision.
We have from Tyler Technologies, Dennis Dauenhauer.
Dennis: Dauenhauer.
[0:05:00]
Judge Gelinas: No less, and Dennis comes to us from Plano, Texas. He says, “I don’t understand all the accents here, and…
Audience: [laughter].
Dennis: I love it.
Judge Gelinas: Of course, you and I know that there are no accents here.
Audience: [laughter]
Judge Gelinas: Dennis has all the accent, and we like your accent, too, Dennis [laughter]. Dennis is going to give us a presentation on the Tyler Technologies Company and then on the ins and outs of e-filing, including a demonstration about how you go about registering and filing a case in court. By the way, you do not have to be an attorney in order to avail yourself of the e-filing site, so you can go on and you can register as a non-attorney and then you can e-file cases. Once the summary process cases are permissible, then you’ll be able to file yourself summary process cases electronically.
With that, let me introduce, turn the program over to Dennis. I’ll be available to answer some questions, and if I can’t answer them, Denis will answer them.
Dennis: I’ll try.
Audience: [applause]
Dennis: Following an introduction that Judge got, I’m just Dennis.
Audience: [laughter]
Dennis: But yes, I’m from Texas, so if you hear my accent, you will hear a lot of Y’alls and all that, but I will say this, and I said it back earlier, the accent that I’ve heard in Massachusetts is probably the greatest accent I’ve ever heard.
Audience: [laughter]
Dennis: I had a roommate when I was in the Marine Corps and he walked up to me, he goes, “Hey, Dennis, let’s go down the [unintelligible 0:06:53] and pick up a rack.”
I’m like, “What are you talking about.” Then he had to explain to me and I was like, “Oh, my gosh! That is so cool.”
Audience: [laughter]
Dennis: I’m going to try to hold this and not break out any kind of rap music, but eventually I’m going to have to go back and forth because I’m actually going to do a demo of our product towards the end, so I’ll need to be on the mouse looking at the screen while I’m talking in this.
We’re going to cover an eFileMA overview, just kind of let you guys know where we are as a whole in Massachusetts as well as around the US.
Rich: Hey, Dennis, if you need any help while you’re trying to coordinate those two things, you’re on your own.
Dennis: Can you walk with me and hold this?
Audience: [laughter]
Rich: No, I’m just kidding. Let me know if I can help.
Dennis: Okay, thanks, so we’re going to go through the filing mechanics of how our eFile product works, and then we’re going to do a brief demo.
Tyler Technologies and our product, eFileMA, is the electronic filing manager for the State of Massachusetts, and I have to think that one through, too. It’s a multicourt system, meaning that no matter what court county you file into, you’re going to get the same look and feel, so when you file, it’s not going to be customized for this county versus this county, so it’s going to be across the board.
Then it’s powered by Tyler Technologies. We’ve been in the court and justice business for over 35 years, and we’re covered from one end of the country to the other.
Just to kind of give an idea on our footprint and our landscape. We’re currently live in 21 out of 25 states; 15 out of those 25 are doing some sort of mandatory e-filing, and the ones you see in green, those are just recent signed contracts we have at those states.
We have, and I did not get that contract, but we’re going to be working with Australia and their court. I really asked to be put out there, but I didn’t get it. but we’re currently integrated from a case management standpoint. We’d integrated with over 50 other vendors, so we work with them on our APIs and a lot of states have other case management systems.
We’re actually available to 30 percent of the total US population today. We’re averaging probably I think about 150,000 envelopes filed per day. I just got an email earlier, Texas just hit their 20 millionth envelop since they’ve been mandatory. It’s kind of cut off from the top there.
[0:10:17]
I’m going to go through the electronic filing process just to kind of give you an idea of how it works, but now that electronic filing is available, it’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can file it at 2 o’clock in the morning if you’re really bored at home and have nothing to do on a Saturday night.
Basically, you can file, and what it does is it goes into the court system, into the electronic filing manager where the court has the availability and I’ll show you what they see when you do file, but they have the availability to look at everything that you’ve filed from the documents that you load, the case information as well as any of the associated fees. Once they’re there, they have the opportunity to either reject that filing, maybe you sent it to the wrong jurisdiction, or they have the ability to accept.
If they do reject it, then it’s sent back to you with notification that your filing has been rejected, and typically there are comment fields, so I’m assuming that they will put the reason why it was rejected.
Then if they do accept it, then that’s when payment is processed, captured at that time. the payment is processed. You do have the ability to do electronic service, but it does not replace physical service yet. Then once they accept that filing, it will update their case management system. All the financials, the case data, as well as storing the document. What it does from the court standpoint, it takes all manual entry away from what they’re doing today.
Filing mechanics, if you’ve ever logged into Amazon.com, or Wal-Mart, or anything else out there, you’re going to register just like you would anywhere else. You’re going to provide the registration information, your name, email, address, phone number. You have the ability through our application to if a larger firm where you’ve got multiple people that are going to file, you can become an administrator and you can add individuals in that firm to file as well.
Then of course you’ll set up your payment account information, Visa, Mastercard, Discovery. Do they use American Express here? No? Then you also can set up a waiver account if there’s no fees involved.
Once you do the registration, the rest of the e-filing takes ultimately five steps.
The first thing you’re going to do is you’re going to add the case information, the location that you’re filing to that court, what category, civil, probate, the case type, who the attorney is filing, and then the payment account information like when you register and you’re going to use Visa that you already have on in your registration.
Then you will of course load the parties. Within the application, there are required parties that are provided by the state. You do have the ability to add additional parties if there are more. Then all their contact information; the more information you have on the contact, all that information is stored in, submitted into their case management system. Then like I said earlier, you can add additional parties as well.
Then you get to the third step, which is where you add in your filing codes, and then is where you’re going to upload any of the documents that you need filed.
The e-service select your service contacts. You do have the ability. Like I said, this does not replace physical service, and you can actually bypass the service step if you don’t want to use it, so there can be only 4 steps.
Then you have add-in. Just like if you’re buying something online, you have your cart where you can look in to make sure everything is there, all the fees are right, you’re using the correct payment account. Then at that point, you’ll verify all that data, and then just submit that. Once you submit it, it goes in that process I showed you earlier. That’s when it goes to the court for them to review.
[0:15:10]
Any questions so far?
Male Audience 1: We wait until the end.
Dennis: You want to wait until the end or are you guys okay?
Rich: Well, you already asked, so I guess we’re doing it now.
Audience: [laughter]
Dennis: Mulligan, Mulligan.
Mulligan: What’s the domain name that I’m going to?
Female Audience 1: If I announce.
Mulligan: Dot what?
Female Audience 1: If it comes up.
Mulligan: Dot gov, dot org, dot net, dot com?
Judge Gelinas: Dot com.
Mulligan: Thank you.
Brian: One of the biggest challenges we have as landlords, let’s see under number 2, parties contact information, tenants move, we get judgements, we can’t find them. We can’t collect. Is this going to be integrated with any other databases when that resident or tenant well on the way out gets back on the radar that their contact information will get updated?
Judge Gelinas: There is no plan currently to integrate it with something like the RMV or any other that might come later, but basically, it’s not a location service at this point in time, and it’s certainly something to think about, but the answer I think for the foreseeable future is no. You’re going to need to get that information again if you’re going to pursue a judgement data.
Brian: Thank you.
Rich: Okay, we have a few more questions.
Male Audience 2: There is a form where if you want to offer to pay a tenant to leave, thereby bypassing all the cost like moving and storage and all that, and it can be brought to the courthouse. They call the tenant to verify that everything is on the up and up, and it’s signed up by the judge and that’s considered done. It’s—I’m sorry.
Female Audience 2: It’s a binding contract?
Male Audience 2: Pardon?
Female Audience 2: It’s a binding contract?
Male Audience 2: It’s a binding contract, but it’s as—
Female Audience 2: It’s a judgement.
Male Audience 2: Yes, it’s a judgment, thank you. Is there going to be anything like that on the e-file system?
Judge Gelinas: Whatever you can do currently with paper, you will be able to do through the e-filing system. You’ll be able to present those papers, those documents, PDF form to the court. How that workflow will process is yet to be determined, but the answer is basically yes. If it’s something you can do now, you will be able to do it with e-filing.
Male Audience 2: Nice. Thank you.
Rich: Hey, Dennis, it’s access. Does the landlord have to pay for the moving cost and storage for residents before they move out?
Dennis: I don’t know. I have never moved.
Rich: No? All right.
Audience: [laughter]
Rich: That’s good [laughter]. I think the answer is no. That’s one of our sore points around here. We have some more questions?
Dennis: Before we get too deep in the weeds on questions—
Rich: You’re probably going to answer them in your presentation?
Dennis: That, and we probably should wait until towards the end, so that way Judge don’t have to sit down and then stand up, and then back and forth, so if you guys don’t mind holding your questions until we’re done. And if you’re interested, I’m going to provide a copy of the presentation to the Judge who will get it to the bar and then that should be disseminated out to everyone said so.
Rich: Good plan! We’ll do this however you want. You do the short straw. You have Australia or Worcester.
Dennis: I know.
Rich: And we appreciate you being here.
Dennis: And I parked my car out there. Did I say it right?
Rich: Almost
Audience: [laughter]
Dennis: So, I showed you the process on how you would file. This is what the courts see when they look at your filing.
It’s broken up into three areas. In the top left-hand corner, that’s where the list of all your documents and attachments, anything that you actually upload to file. Everything on the lower is all of the contact information, party information, the filing attorney, all of the filer’s information, email, phone number, in case they need to reach you. Then also a list of what fees are incurred.
[0:20:05]
Then, at the center is the actual document where they can go through it page by page. They can zoom in and zoom out. Yes, you can submit it upside down, so there is a way for them to flip it over. We didn’t use to have that, so that was always a fun rejection. But so yes, now they can zoom in, zoom out, go from page to page, go from first page to last page, and they have some tools in there that they can highlight and do other things that they needed internally. But this is what they see when they get that information from you.
If you need to—you may want to explain this, Judge, about sending an email to the address below if you want to be added to the email distribution list. Is that…
Judge Gelinas: Yeah, sure.
Dennis: Okay, and then the eFileMa.com is through the actual application.
Judge Gelinas: Now that first email address, we have what we call a list serve, and that sends out announcements about the e-filing program generally when a court goes live with the e-filing where the next court is going to go live. If you want to subscribe to it, you just send an email to that email address, and it will automatically register you, and then whenever they send out an email about the e-filing program, you will get a copy of it, so you can follow what’s going on. The second link is the link. As you can see, efilema.com is the web address.
Dennis: All right, so I’m going to do a demo or attempt to use all three of my hands.
The landing page of our application from a filer’s perspective, it’s broken out into three sections.
You have Court Information up top where the state has the ability to add information that they want to get out to the public or to all the filing community.
Then you have over on the logo on the right side, but that’s your Self Help. You have the ability to go in there and there are web training sessions that you can sign up to do training webinars.
There’s FAQs where you can actually search for certain questions, how to get started with e-filing, how to set up new password, how to change new password, how to set up a payment account.
Then there’s also videos and also like user guides that you can download. There is a lot of information out there from a training perspective, and it’s all within the Self Help.
If you need to reach out to Tyler, there’s also Contact Information in there as well.
Then of course over on the Action, that’s where you either sign in or you’ll initiate your registration or not. Okay, there it is.
I know it looks pretty technical—first name, last name, email, password, yes, you have to have a security question, and we monitor all questions on this.
I’m not going to go all the way through it, but then you can add your firm information. If you are setting up for multiple people within a firm, you can actually set them up all up like that and then they’ll send them a notification for them to go and register. You also have it goes through the terms and conditions and then you complete it out, but you have the ability to go in.
Once you register, then you can add multiple payment accounts. You may have a Visa Card that you use for one location and a Visa Card you use for another, so you can set them up, name them, however you want to.
Okay so once you’re logged in, this is what you’ll see. you have a dashboard, so you can keep track if you have multiple filings. You can keep track if you have any that are pending, if they’ve been accepted, if you have any return—sorry, I used rejection earlier—but if they returned it for correction.
[0:25:18]
Then if you have a draft, you can create drafts. You may start working on a filing and have to leave, you can come back, you have a draft. Then it also shows if you have any that you’ve actually done service on.
It’s pretty simple. To start, you can either start a new case or file an existing, and then you also have different ways to get to that.
You can go up to the Access bar. It does the same thing. You can file. Start a new case. File an existing, filing history, and there’s also going to be home buttons, so if you get lost in the application, just hit home and it will take you home, but you have the ability. You do have.
You may have certain cases that you file that you can actually create a template, and then all you have to do is upload the document and the party information. But there is a lot of training on every one of these aspects in more detail.
You should also see a little yellow question mark, so anytime you have a question or anytime you see that, there is either a description beside it, so you know exactly what it is that we’re asking.
Then there’s also we have it’s a self-help. It’s called Walk Me, and if you click on it, what it does is it actually walks you through while you’re filing. If you click on Party Information, it’s going to say there, okay put their first name, put their last name, and it’s going to walk you through every single one of those required cells to fill out.
I’m going to go ahead and file a new case, and it is a domino effect, so once you fill out the first information, you fill out the first information. Once you hit Save, it closes up and goes to the next one to make sure that you fill out each one.
I’m just going to grab a location, case types, small claims, say $2,000 to $5,000. There’s no lower court, so I hit Save Changes, and it shows that information is saved, and it will take me to the next as adding the parties. This is going to be a fun one.
You do have the ability to add more information. I would assume the more information you have the better, but once you start filling out like the address, then it makes the other fields required. But in our application, based on the way it’s built now, all that’s required is a first and last name.
If you noticed, the two parties show the plaintiff and defendant and I just filled out the plaintiff, and then I hit Save Changes and then it will take me to and I’m going to add—he’s actually my high school buddy. Same thing, I hit Save Changes, and it will take me to the filing information.
It shows that both the parties are listed as required. You do have the ability to add additional parties as many as you want, but the ones that will automatically show up are the ones that are actually required for that case type. I’ll put appearance filed.
You have the ability to add filing description and you will see the little icon on the side to give you the description, but that’s optional. You have a reference number. You may have a filing system that you use internally, that’s for your own internal use. Then you also have comments to the court if there’s anything that you want the court to know about your filing. You can fill it out in that section.
[0:30:06]
Then you do have the ability to courtesy copy anybody that you want to get a copy of this filing, and then you would choose who you’re filing on behalf of. I do it myself.
It’s a great application. I actually filed my own divorce in it.
Audience: [laughter]
Dennis: Was that bad? No [laughter]. This was not a test.
Now you have the ability to go in and wherever you stored your documents, you’ll add your lead document if you have any attachments or any other documents. You can add as many as you want.
Male Audience 3: Photos?
Dennis: If you scan it and PDF it. Yes, you can send anything as long as it’s on PDF. There is ability to add optional services like if you need copies printed out, then you can actually pay for the copies and let them know how many, so there is a section in here called Optional Services.
It shows all your information, and then it gets down to the fees. Then here, I’m going to select the payment account. I’ll use the e-check, and then the responsible party, I will say is submit myself, and then who am I following or who’s the filing attorney.
Rich: Hold on a second, Dennis. Can you select the defendant there to pay for this?
Audience: [laughter]
Dennis: I would assume based on the cases that you’ve filed there’s—I don’t know. Can we?
Rich: Well, I only asked because it looked like that was a choice in the dropdown menu.
Dennis: It is a choice in the dropdown menu.
Rich: And that would kind of be hilarious?
Dennis: If you can get it to stick, then.
Judge Gelinas: You need to enter his credit card or your credit card [unintelligible 0:32:50].
Rich: Okay.
Brian: We’re going to count the [unintelligible 0:32:53] rental application.
Dennis: Good luck there, right?
Rich: It would be better if wouldn’t do that.
Brian: It would be better if we don’t?
Rich: Yes.
Dennis: You also see the list of all the fees, the filing fee, the court case fee, the payment services fee, then your total envelope cost.
Russell: I want to go back to that payment question that Rich had. If they are paying us with a check, we have their check, we have their routing number. We have their account number.
Rich: Yes. I was totally kidding.
Dennis: Yes.
Audience: [laughter]
Dennis: Hey, I really appreciate the railroad. Thank you.
Audience: [laughter]
Rich: But—
Russell: At the end of the day—
Rich: It kind of—
Russell: You will be rewarded those fees anyway.
Rich: That’s going to be up to the judge to reward the fees, right, like—
Dennis: Yes.
Rich: We probably should not have a choice, so we pay for it or make the defendant pay for it [laughter].
Russell: That’s a good question. By the time we have to file summary process, it paid for the filing fees.
Rich: I agree with you. I’ve never paid a filing fee. I’ve always gotten reimbursed in court, so I’m with you.
Russell: If you’re taking them to court, it’s probably going to bounce anyway, so [unintelligible 0:34:01].
Rich: [laughter] Russell says the check is going to bounce anyway if you’re taking them to court. That’s also a fair point. We’ll come back to that one. We’ll let Dennis s going for now.
Dennis: Let’s table that one.
Once you finish adding all your information and you go to the summary, and this is the summary page or your cart that you can walk through each one of the sections to make sure all of the information is correct. Then as you go through, you see your parties, your fees, then you will hit Submit, and then once you hit Submit, that is when it goes to the court for them to review it.
Okay, well that’s the end of the demo.
Rich: Damn it, Dennis! I’m sticking up for you, so you could do your presentation [laughter].
Audience: [applause]
Dennis: If you have any questions at this point—
Rich: [laughter] You know what, Russell, I’m going to bring the microphone right over to you. Here you go.
Russell: Please let me apologize for that table talk.
[0:35:04]
Dennis: The fees for? It depends on what—
Russell: Filing fees, you’re saying when you go to court?
Judge Gelinas: Yes. [inaudible 0:35:13] The filing fees are exactly the same as when you go to court and file it manually, but it costs to the Tyler company $7 per envelope. You can put as many documents that pertain to the same case in an envelope, so if you have a complaint and some kind of a return and exhibit like a picture that you want to file, you can put all of that in one envelope, and then there’s a $7 charge. That’s in addition to the court fee.
As the volume of filings increases, under the court’s agreement with Tyler, the fee will be reduced, and when we get to a certain level of filings in the state, statewide, the filing fee will probably come down to about $3.50 per envelope.
Brian: So, you have an incentive to get more courts online?
Judge Gelinas: We do.
Russell: And to get filers as many—
Dennis: And get the people filing cases.
Male Audience 4: The process of getting people to the court staff and judges to agree on the workflow, what type of time are we looking at before they agree on this, set the rules of the court, find out if there’s a statute change, then we’ll actually be able to go live—
Judge Gelinas: With the summary process?
Male Audience 4: Yes. What’s your best guess on the real timeframe?
Judge Gelinas: If there’s one little thing I’ve learned in my 79 years of life on this Earth—
Dennis: Correct!
Judge Gelinas: Is that I never, never, never give a date. Don’t give a date.
Audience: [laughter]
Male Audience 4: Okay, then don’t give a date. Please don’t give a date. Give us the best case and worst case.
Judge Gelinas: Best case, tomorrow; worst case, January of 2019. How can I help? All I can say is this, we have a group that is working assiduously. There’s a big impetus for us to get e-filing done because as you can readily see, it will reduce the amount of work that the clerical staff has to do, and our clerical staff is being reduced almost every year by attrition and non-replacement. We have a big, big stake in this game, and we want to get it done as quickly as possible.
In that circumstance, all I can tell you is that committee is actively working. I’m going to bring them your suggestions about the service issue. By the way, let me touch on the service issue. There is a service—let’s go way back— when you start to register, and you go the Landing screen up at the top, there’s a list of links and one of those links goes to the interim rules for electronic filing.
Anybody who is going to electronically file should read those rules because they cover what you have to do to e-file and they govern where changes are with respect to the regular rules that govern the procedure. If you get into e-filing, read the rules first and try to understand them.
On the issue of service, under the current rules, if both parties agree to e-file, then they can agree to service, and you can put their email address on a service list. If one party does not want to e-file, plaintiff or defendant, then the case has to proceed in the regular fashion manually.
If you start a case by e-filing and the defendant does not want to proceed with e-filing, then you’re going to have to revert to manual or supplementary documents in the rest.
Our senses with summary process, a lot of them are uncontested, so you won’t have to worry about that. Some of them are very computer-savvy and will want to file a lot of stuff electronically, and you can continue. Some will come to court and file an answer of some kind of and say, I don’t want to proceed electronically, and then you will have to continue to go in the regular course. That’s until the e-filing becomes mandatory.
[0:40:08]
We’re also working on what we call guide and file, and that is a plain language interview that results in the preparation of a form for filing. We currently have that in operation in the service centers and in the Worcester District Court for e-filing. There, somebody, average citizen without a lawyer, can come in and simply answer a series of questions, and that creates the small claims filing form and that can be electronically filed only in one court now and that’s in Worcester.
In the housing court, we’ve arranged so that they can do that with small claims and in the court service center, they print the form and carry it into the hosing court for the moment. When e-filing becomes mandatory, we will have plain language guided interviews for everybody who does not do sophisticated e-filing and all you’ll have to do is to fill out a series of questions and answers that will prepare their answer.
Male Audience 4: In the courts, will they stay paperless if it’s e-filed or will they print papers out to actually go inside the court room?
Judge Gelinas: That is something that we’re wrestling with now.
In the district court and in the probate and family court, we have a series of experimental courts. In the Orleans District Court, for example, the clerk magistrate hears all of the small claims using the electronic documents on the screen. We are setting that up to see what we can do in experimental courts in the district court, and in the Boston Municipal Court, and in the probate and family court to see how much we can do electronically in the court room. That’s number 1.
Number 2, we have another group working on the digital needs of the court room, and we’re looking at a variety of different dashboards and applications that a judge will be able to use to look at the cases electronically. In the appeals court, all of the cases are presented electronically, and all the briefs and all the exhibits are put into digital form and are loaded onto an iPad that the judge takes on the bench.
Male Audience 4: My last question [laughter]. Thank you. The existing cases that are in the system right now—
Judge Gelinas: Yes.
Male Audience 4: Are all those motions, summary process, is that scanned as part of the digital records, so that will be able to be viewed? Right now, we can see is a doc. We can’t see the agreement that was made.
Judge Gelinas: That’s right.
Male Audience 4: We can’t see motions that are filed.
Judge Gelinas: That’s right.
Male Audience 4: When are we going to be able to see the motions, agreements, and all the documents on MassCourts.org?
Rich: Good question.
Judge Gelinas: There is a tension as to how much and what should be made available.
Male Audience 4: It’s public record, all of it.
Judge Gelinas: Not impounded cases, not impounded documents, and not documents that haven’t been redacted, and a lot of the stuff has to be redacted.
Male Audience 4: I do. [unintelligible 0:43:58] we’ll get every document in the case.
Judge Gelinas: Yes, but you can’t see an impounded case.
Male Audience 4: Well, then I’m not asking [unintelligible 0:44:09]. It’s public record. I want to be able to see that record.
Judge Gelinas: Okay, but—
Male Audience 5: But it’s meant to be public record.
Judge Gelinas: Yes, so there’s still some tension as to how much and how that’s going to be displayed, so it’s in the works, and…
Rich: That would be really valuable.
Judge Gelinas: Yes.
Rich: Because I almost turned down a potential resident two weeks ago because their previous landlord gave them a bad reference, but I didn’t just take his word for it. It was settled in mediation, so we couldn’t actually see what the outcome was, so I asked the candidate, who wants to move into our apartment. I said, “Well, you have this document from court. What you’re saying—” I didn’t tell her about the landlord. I just say, “Can you find in this paper for me?”
She found it, and sure enough, everything she told me was true and the landlord wasn’t telling the truth. If that were available, it would really help, or it would really help everybody.
[0:40:05]
Judge Gelinas: Sure.
Rich: I think that’s a really good question, so these guys, you said that you can hang around to answer additional questions, right?
Judge Gelinas: Sure, absolutely.
Rich: You told me you’re going back to Texas tonight.
Dennis: It’s still early. It’s a long drive.
Rich: Yes, it’s a long drive.
Audience: [laughter]
Rich: It’s only 7 o’clock in Texas right now, right?
Judge Gelinas: Yes. We can take some more questions.
Rich: Well, we’re actually moving on to the next part, so let’s take one more question. Who has the best question?
Judge Gelinas: There’s a lot of questions in the back.
Rich: We have a lot of questions. Okay, I see. It seems like people have voted back here.
Male Audience 6: It may not be something that happens while it’s not mandatory, but once it’s mandatory, will then things like discovery process be available so that now the person has email, maybe has a link, and discovery process becomes nothing more than a click and all of a sudden discovery process is going to go way up for us.
Judge Gelinas: The answer is probably yes. Currently you can use the Tyler application without involving the court if there are two lawyers involved, and for example, they want to exchange discovery. That isn’t filed with the court. It’s something that goes between the two lawyers and the court is not involved in that. The answer is yes, discovery will be available electronically, and that’s going to have to fall out where it falls out, I guess.
Sandra: You may have answered this question before, but I might have missed it. But we have to file our summary process cases, we have to bring a check to the court for the filing. Now in e-filing, you would pay how? I manage multiple units, and I’m filing for a number of property owners. In the e-filing, how does that get addressed? Is it credit card? Do you get billed? That’s question 1.
Question 2, is on the summary process, the lawyer, if you are an LLC or property manager, or trust, you have to have a lawyer sign the summary process form to go forward. In this system, do I sign for the attorney? I don’t think he’s going to want me to do that, so how does that aspect get addressed because you have to have it—
Judge Gelinas: Okay.
Sandra: In order to be able to file?
Judge Gelinas: Let’s take the first question first. You can manage the payment any way that you’d like.
If you’re doing multiple properties, you can file with multiple credit cards. You have to keep them straight, but you can do that. But most importantly, the Tyler application has a wonderful reporting system for the payments of monies, and you can indicate on the filing who the plaintiff was and that will show up on the report, and then you can use the filtering application to say Landlord A and it will give you all the list of cases you filed for Landlord A and all of monies you’ve expended for that. You can send that and use that in your bookkeeping and you can send that to them as a bill, so it’s a very simple thing.
The other thing you can do is you can send a courtesy copy of the filing to the landlord whom you’re filing for, and they all get a copy of all the papers.
On the second point, if the lawyer authorizes you to file, you can file on behalf of the lawyer and law firms—
Sandra: Wow!
Judge Gelinas: Do that all the time with their paralegals and the administrative assistants, and it’s the person who does the filing, and it’s on behalf of the lawyer. The lawyer’s name will be on it, and you will need of course his or her permission to do it.
Male Audience 7: If a CC gets one by [unintelligible 0:49:50] wouldn’t it be a problem because [unintelligible 0:49:53].
Sandra: No, but the fact is that the lawyer then—
Judge Gelinas: That sounds something [crosstalk 0:49:58].
Sandra: Is saying that everything on that document is correct but never really was involved in the filling out of it, and all of a sudden that lawyer’s name appears on the document.
[0:50:12]
Judge Gelinas: Well, the lawyer may not want to give you permission to use his or her name.
Sandra: How does that then get translated into the filing?
Judge Gelinas: You need to get it filed through the lawyer’s firm, so.
Sandra: Okay.
Rich: All right.
Judge Gelinas: One more?
Rich: One more.
Female Audience 3: Are they not going to be processing payments through electronic checks? It’s all just going to be because you said credit card payments.
Judge Gelinas: Yes, credit cards, all electronic check, yes.
Female Audience 3: Okay. Is there going to be a fee associated with if you pay by credit card like—
Judge Gelinas: No. In a way, yes. It’s a $7 fee for the envelope if you pay by credit card; it’s $6.50 if you pay by electronic check. But irrespective of the amount, there’s no additional charge for the credit card filing.
Dennis: There’s no processing fee.
Sandra: As long [inaudible 0:51:15].
Judge Gelinas: I’m sorry.
Sandra: [inaudible 0:51:18]
Judge Gelinas: Yes, yes, it can be. Okay, I guess I’m getting a strong signal over here from my good friend who gave me such great information and great introduction—
Rich: Get out.
Judge Gelinas: He’s kicking me off the stage.
Rich: Yes, I know.
Judge Gelinas: [laughter]
Rich: Let’s have a round of applause for Judge Gelinas and Dennis from Tyler Technologies.
Audience: [applause]
Judge Gelinas: Thank you very much, thank you.
Rich: You’re going to get—
[End 0:51:55]

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