Rule 1.109 Court Records Defined; Document Defined; Filing Standards; Signatures; Electronic Filing and Service; Access

(A) Court Records Defined.

(1) Court records are defined by MCR 8.119 and this subrule. Court records are recorded information of any kind that has been created by the court or filed with the court in accordance with Michigan Court Rules. Court records may be created using any means and may be maintained in any medium authorized by these court rules provided those records comply with other provisions of law and these court rules.

(a) Court records include, but are not limited to:

(i) documents, attachments to documents, discovery materials, and other materials filed with the clerk of the court,

(ii) documents, recordings, data, and other recorded information created or handled by the court, including all data produced in conjunction with the use of any system for the purpose of transmitting, accessing, reproducing, or maintaining court records.

(b) For purposes of this subrule:

(i) Documents include, but are not limited to, pleadings, orders, and judgments.

(ii) Recordings refer to audio and video recordings (whether analog or digital), stenotapes, log notes, and other related records.

(iii) Data refers to any information entered in the case management system that is not ordinarily reduced to a document but that is still recorded information, and any data entered into or created by the statewide electronic-filing system.

(iv) Other recorded information includes, but is not limited to, notices, bench warrants, arrest warrants, and other process issued by the court that do not have to be maintained on paper or digital image.

(2) Discovery materials that are not filed with the clerk of the court are not court records. Exhibits that are maintained by the court reporter or other authorized staff pursuant to MCR 2.518 or MCR 3.930 during the pendency of a proceeding are not court records.

(B) Document Defined. A document means a record produced on paper or a digital image of a record originally produced on paper or originally created by an approved electronic means, the output of which is readable by sight and can be printed to 81/2 x 11 inch paper without manipulation.

(C) Filing With Court Defined. Pleadings and other documents and materials filed with the court as required by these court rules must be filed with the clerk of the court in accordance with MCR 1.109(D), except that the judge to whom the case is assigned may accept materials for filing when circumstances warrant. A judge who does so shall note the filing date on the materials and immediately transmit them to the clerk. It is the responsibility of the party who presented the materials to the judge to confirm that they have been filed with the clerk. If the clerk records the receipt of materials on a date other than the filing date, the clerk shall record the filing date in the case history.

(D) Filing Standards.

(1) Form and Captions of Documents.

(a) All documents prepared for filing in the courts of this state and all documents prepared by the court for placement in a case file must be legible and in the English language, comply with standards established by the State Court Administrative Office, and be on good quality 8½ by 11 inch paper or transmitted through an approved electronic means and maintained as a digital image. The print must be no smaller than 10 characters per inch (nonproportional) or 12-point (proportional), except with regard to forms approved by the State Court Administrative Office.  Transcripts filed with the court must contain only a single transcript page per document page, not mulitple pages combined on a single document page.

(b) The first part of every document must contain a caption stating:

(i) the name of the court;

(ii) the names of the parties or the title of the action or proceeding, subject to (c);

(iii) the case number, including a prefix of the year filed and a two-letter suffix for the case-type code from a list provided by the State Court Administrator pursuant to MCR 8.117, according to the principal subject matter of the proceeding;

(iv) the identification of the document;

(v) the name, business address, telephone number, and state bar number of each attorney appearing in the case; and

(vi) the name, an address, and telephone number of each party appearing without an attorney.

(c) In a civil action initiating document, the title of the action must include the names of all the parties, with the plaintiff’s name placed first. In subsequent documents, it is sufficient to state the name of the first party on each side with an appropriate indication of other parties, such as “et al.”

(d) In a case filed under the juvenile code, the caption must also contain a petition number, where appropriate.

(e) If an action has been assigned to a particular judge in a multi-judge court, the name of that judge must be included in the caption of a document later filed with the court.

(f) An affidavit must be verified by oath or affirmation.

(g) Pursuant to Administrative Order No. 2006-2, a filer is prohibited from filing a document that contains another person’s social security number except when the number is required or allowed by statute, court rule, court order, or for purposes of collection activity when it is required for identification.

(2) Case Initiation Information. A party filing a case initiating document and a party filing any response or answer to a case initiating document shall provide specified case information in the form and manner established by the State Court Administrative Office and as specified in other applicable rules. At a minimum, specified case information shall include the name, an address for service, an e-mail address, and a telephone number of every party, and:

(a) in a civil action, either of the following statements:

(i) There is no other pending or resolved civil action arising out of the transaction or occurrence alleged in the complaint, or

(ii) A civil action between these parties or other parties arising out of the transaction or occurrence alleged in the complaint has been previously filed in [this court]/ [_________ Court], where it was given case number __________ and was assigned to Judge ___________. The action [remains]/[is no longer] pending.

(b) in proceedings governed by chapters 3.200 and 3.900, except for outgoing requests to other states and incoming registration actions filed under the Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act, MCL 780.151 et seq. and the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, MCL 552.2101 et seq., either of the following statements, if known:

(i) There are no pending or resolved cases within the jurisdiction of the family division of the circuit court involving the family or family members of the person[s] who [is/are] the subject of the complaint or petition, or

(ii) There is one or more pending or resolved cases within the jurisdiction of the family division of the circuit court involving the family or family members of the person[s] who [is/are] the subject of the complaint or petition. Attached is a completed case inventory listing those cases.

(3) Verification. Except when otherwise specifically provided by rule or statute, a document need not be verified or accompanied by an affidavit. If a document is required or permitted to be verified, it may be verified by

(a) oath or affirmation of the party or of someone having knowledge of the facts stated; or

(b) except as to an affidavit, including the following signed and dated declaration:

“I declare under the penalties of perjury that this _________ has been examined by me and that its contents are true to the best of my information, knowledge, and belief.” Any requirement of law that a document filed with the probate court must be sworn may be also met by this declaration.

In addition to the sanctions provided by subrule (E), a person who knowingly makes a false declaration under this subrule may be found in contempt of court.

(4) All other materials submitted for filing shall be prepared in accordance with this subrule and standards established by the State Court Administrative Office. An attachment or discovery material that is submitted for filing shall be made part of the public case file unless otherwise confidential.

(5) Except where electronic filing is implemented, all original documents filed on paper may be reproduced and maintained by the court as a digital image in place of the paper original in accordance with standards established by the State Court Administrative Office. Any document reproduced under this subrule replaces the paper as the official record.

(6) A clerk of the court may reject nonconforming documents as prescribed by MCR 8.119.

(7) Electronic filing and electronic service of documents is governed by subrule (G) and the policies and standards of the State Court Administrative Office.

(8) Filing Documents Under Seal. Public documents may not be filed under seal except when the court has previously entered an order in the case under MCR 2.302(C). However, a document may be made nonpublic temporarily before an order is entered as follows:

(a) A filer may request that a public document be made nonpublic temporarily when filing a motion to seal a document under MCR 8.119(I). As part of the filing, the filer shall provide a proposed order granting the motion to seal and shall identify each document that is to be sealed under the order. The filer shall bear the burden of establishing good cause for sealing the document.

(b) Pending the court’s order, the filer shall serve on all the parties:

(i) copies of the motion to seal and the request to make each document nonpublic temporarily,

(ii) each document to be sealed, and

(iii) the proposed order.

(c) The clerk of the court shall ensure that the documents identified in the motion are made nonpublic pending entry of the order.

(d) Before entering an order sealing a document under this rule, the court shall comply with MCR 8.119(I). On entry of the order on the motion, the clerk shall seal only those documents stated in the court’s order and shall remove the nonpublic status of any of the documents that were not stated in the order.

(E) Signatures.

(1) A signature, as required by these court rules and law, means a written signature as defined by MCL 8.3q or an electronic signature as defined by this subrule.

(2) Requirement. Every document filed shall be signed by the person filing it or by at least one attorney of record. A party who is not represented by an attorney must sign the document. In probate proceedings the following also applies:

(a) When a person is represented by an attorney, the signature of the attorney is required on any paper filed in a form approved by the State Court Administrator only if the form includes a place for a signature.

(b) An application, petition, or other paper may be signed by the attorney for the petitioner, except that an inventory, account, acceptance of appointment, and sworn closing statement must be signed by the fiduciary or trustee. A receipt for assets must be signed by the person entitled to the assets.

(3) Failure to Sign. If a document is not signed, it shall be stricken unless it is signed promptly after the omission is called to the attention of the party.

(4) An electronic signature is acceptable in accordance with this subrule.

(a) An electronic signature means an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record. The following form is acceptable: /s/ John L. Smith.

(b) Retention of a signature electronically affixed to a document that will be retained by the court in electronic format must not be dependent upon the mechanism that was used to affix that signature.

(5) Effect of Signature. The signature of a person filing a document, whether or not represented by an attorney, constitutes a certification by the signer that:

(a) he or she has read the document;

(b) to the best of his or her knowledge, information, and belief formed after reasonable inquiry, the document is well grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law or a good-faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law; and

 (c) the document is not interposed for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation.

(6) Sanctions for Violation. If a document is signed in violation of this rule, the court, on the motion of a party or on its own initiative, shall impose upon the person who signed it, a represented party, or both, an appropriate sanction, which may include an order to pay to the other party or parties the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred because of the filing of the document, including reasonable attorney fees. The court may not assess punitive damages.

(7) Sanctions for Frivolous Claims and Defenses. In addition to sanctions under this rule, a party pleading a frivolous claim or defense is subject to costs as provided in MCR 2.625(A)(2). The court may not assess punitive damages.

(F) Requests for access to public court records shall be granted in accordance with MCR 8.119(H).

(G) Electronic Filing and Service.

(1) Definitions. For purposes of this subrule:

(a) “Authorized user” means a user of the e-filing system who is registered to file, serve, and receive documents and related data through approved electronic means. A court may revoke user authorization for good cause as determined by the court, including but not limited to a security breach.

(b) “Electronic filing” or “e-filing” means the electronic transmission of data and documents to the court through the electronic-filing system.

(c) “Electronic-filing system” means a system provided by the State Court Administrative Office that permits electronic transmission of data and documents.

(d) “Electronic notification” means the electronic transmission of information from the court to authorized users through the electronic-filing system. This does not apply to service of documents. See subrule (f).

(e) “Electronic service” or “e-service” means the electronic service of information by means of the electronic-filing system under this rule. It does not include service by e-mail under MCR 2.107(C)(4).

(f) “Notice of electronic filing or service” means a notice automatically generated by the e-filing system at the time a document is filed or served.

(2) Electronic-Filing and Electronic-Service Standards. Courts shall implement electronic filing and electronic service capabilities in accordance with this rule and shall comply with the standards established by the State Court Administrative Office. Confidential and nonpublic information must be electronically filed or electronically served in compliance with these standards to ensure secure transmission of the information.

(3) Scope and Applicability.

(a) A court shall:

(i) accept electronic filing and permit electronic service of documents;

(ii) comply with the electronic-filing guidelines and plans approved by the State Court Administrative Office; and

(iii) maintain electronic documents in accordance with the standards established by the State Court Administrative Office.

(b) A court may allow documents, including but not limited to materials related to case evaluations or inventory information for decedent estates, to be transmitted to the court for purposes other than filing in a case file.

(c) Non-Electronic Materials. Courts must accommodate the filing and serving of materials that cannot be filed or served electronically.

(d) Converting Paper Documents. The clerk of the court shall convert to electronic format any document filed on paper.

(e) A court may electronically serve notices, orders, opinions, and other documents by means of the electronic-filing system.

(4) Official Court Record. The electronic version of any document filed with or generated by the court under this rule and any case initiation data transmitted in accordance with subrule (D)(2) is an official court record.

(5) Electronic-Filing Process.

(a) General Provisions.

(i) Specified case information, including e-mail addresses for achieving electronic service, shall be provided electronically by the authorized user in the form and manner established by the State Court Administrative Office pursuant to subrule (D)(2).

(ii) The authorized user has the responsibility of ensuring that a filing has been received by the electronic-filing system. If the authorized user discovers that the version of the document available for viewing through the e-filing system does not depict the document as submitted, the authorized user shall notify the clerk of the court immediately and resubmit the filing if necessary. In the event of a controversy between the clerk of the court and the authorized user, the authorized user may file a motion with the court under subrule (G)(7).

(iii) If the clerk of the court rejects a submitted document pursuant to MCR 8.119(C), the clerk shall notify the authorized user of the rejection and the reason for the rejection. A rejected document shall not become part of the official court record and the rejection shall be recorded in an electronic-filing transaction from the court to the authorized user in accordance with subrule (c).

(b) Time and Effect of Electronic Filing. A document submitted electronically is deemed filed with the court when the transmission to the electronic-filing system is completed and the required filing fees have been paid or waived. If a document is submitted with a request to waive the filing fees, the document is deemed filed on the date the document was submitted to the court. A transmission is completed when the transaction is recorded as prescribed in subrule (c). Regardless of the date a filing is accepted by the clerk of the court, the date of filing is the date submitted. Electronic filing is not restricted by the operating hours of a court and any document submitted at or before 11:59 p.m. of a business day is deemed filed on that business day. Any document submitted on a weekend or court holiday is deemed filed on the next business day.

(c) Electronic-Filing Transaction. On receipt of a submission or on rejection of a submission for nonpayment, the electronic-filing system shall record the filing transaction and send a notice of receipt of the submission and payment or rejection to the authorized user. When the filing transaction is date and time stamped, the electronic-filing system shall record the filing transaction and send a notice of electronic-filing to the authorized user. If the filing is rejected, the electronic-filing system shall record the rejection and send a notice of the rejection to the authorized user. The system shall maintain for every court a record of each submission, payment, filing, and rejection transaction in accordance with the records retention and disposal schedules and standards established by the State Court Administrative Office. A notice of electronic filing shall include the date and time of the transaction, the name of the authorized user filing the document(s), the type of document, the name of the authorized user receiving the notice, and a hyperlink to the filed or rejected document(s).

(d) Documents Under Seal. Except for documents filed pursuant to a protective order issued under MCR 2.302(C), a party seeking to file a document under seal must comply with subrule (D)(8).

(6) Electronic-Service Process.

(a) General Provisions.

(i) Service of process of case initiating documents shall be made in accordance with the rules and laws required for the particular case type.

(ii) Service of process of all other documents electronically filed shall be accomplished electronically among authorized users through the electronic-filing system unless one or more parties have been exempted from electronic filing, or a party has not filed a response or answer or has not registered with the electronic-filing system and that party’s e-mail address is unknown. In those circumstances, service shall be made on that party by any other method required by Michigan Court Rules.

(iii) Delivery of documents through the electronic-filing system in conformity with these rules is valid and effective personal service and is proof of service under Michigan Court Rules.

(iv) Except for service of process of initiating documents and as otherwise directed by the court or court rule, service may be performed simultaneously with filing.

(v) When a court rule permits service by mail, service may be accomplished electronically under this subrule.

(b) Time and Effect. A document served electronically through the electronic-filing system in conformity with all applicable requirements of this rule is considered served when the transmission to the recipient’s e-mail address is completed. A transmission is completed when the transaction is recorded as prescribed in subrule (c).

(c) Electronic-Service Transaction. On transmission of a document, the electronic-filing system shall record the service transaction. The system shall maintain for every court a record of each service transaction in accordance with the state-approved records retention and disposal schedules and standards established by the State Court Administrative Office.

(7) Transmission Failures.

(a) In the event the electronic-filing system fails to transmit a document submitted for filing, the authorized user may file a motion requesting that the court enter an order permitting the document to be deemed filed on the date it was first attempted to be sent electronically. The authorized user must prove to the court’s satisfaction that:

(i) the filing was attempted at the time asserted by the authorized user;

(ii) the electronic-filing system failed to transmit the electronic document; and

(iii) the transmission failure was not caused, in whole or in part, by any action or inaction of the authorized user. A transmission failure caused by a problem with a filer’s telephone line, ISP, hardware, or software shall be attributed to the filer.

(b) Scheduled system outages, such as for system maintenance, shall be posted on the MiFILE website.

(c) Notice shall be provided on the MiFILE website and/or the One Court of Justice website if the electronic-filing system becomes unavailable for an extended or indefinite period. The notice shall indicate that filers are responsible for filing documents on paper and serving paper in another manner required by Michigan Court Rules in order to meet any deadlines imposed by statute or court rule.