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SUPPLEMENTAL RULES OF THE SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE FOR ELECTRONIC FILING

 

PREAMBLE

          Pursuant to the authority conferred by Part II, Article 73-a of the New Hampshire Constitution, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire hereby adopts the attached Supplemental Rules of the Superior Court of New Hampshire for Electronic Filing.  These rules shall take effect in all superior court locations as of the date set forth in a Supreme Court order implementing e-filing in specified civil case types, and as of the date set forth in a Supreme Court Order implementing e-filing in criminal cases.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

I. General Provisions

1A. Scope and Effective Date of Rules for Civil Cases

1B. Scope and Effective Date of Rules for Criminal Cases

2. Definitions

3. Official Court Record

4. Relationship to Other Rules

5. Registration Requirements

II. Filing Documents

6. Filing: Time of Filing and Effect of Technical Problems

a. Manner of Filing - General

b. Cases or documents for which the filing party will mail the filing fee or pay the filing fee at court.

c. Time of Filing and Effect of Technical Problems

7. Document and Other Item Submission

a. Methods of Submitting Documents for Electronic Filing

b. Format of Documents Filed Electronically

c. Format of Documents File Conventionally

d. Original Documents and Other Paper Documents that were not Prepared for Electronic Filing

e. Attachments to Filings

f. Documents Submitted for In Camera Review

8. Signatures on Filings

a. Original Document Deemed Signed

b. When Multiple Signatures Are Required

9. Signatures on Court-Issued Electronic Documents

10. Notarized Signatures on Filings (Notarial Acts)

11. Filing Confidential Documents or Documents Containing Confidential Information

a. Access to Documents

b. Filing a Confidential Document

c. Filing Documents Containing Confidential Information

d. Motions to Seal

e. Procedure for Seeking Access to Documents or Information Contained in Documents That Have Been Determined to Be Confidential

f. Sanctions for Disclosure of Confidential Information

III. Service of Documents

12. Formal Service of Process

13. Electronic Service of Documents

IV. Miscellaneous

14. Certified or Attested Court Documents

 

I. General Provisions

 

Rule 1A.  Scope and Effective Date of Rules for Civil Cases

(a) Effective Date and Applicability of Rules.  These rules shall govern the electronic filing of all documents in cases commenced on and after the date specified in a Supreme Court order implementing electronic filing in superior court in specified civil case types.  These rules shall also govern the filing of all documents in cases in the superior court converted to electronic filing in accordance with paragraph (c).  As good cause appears and as justice may require, the court may waive the application of any rule.

(b) Electronic Filing Mandatory.  Unless otherwise required or authorized by these rules or an order of the court, all filings in cases commenced on or after these rules become effective shall be filed using the court’s electronic filing system.  However, a party may be excused from electronic filing in the circumstances set forth below.

(1)  The court may fully excuse a party from electronic filing if the court finds that:

(A)  a party is protected by law from disclosing certain identifying or contact information; or
(B)  extraordinary circumstances would render electronic filing such a hardship that the party would be denied access to the Court.
A party seeking to be fully excused from the mandate of electronic filing shall file a request with the court setting forth the reasons therefor.  A party who is fully excused from the mandate of electronic filing shall file documents conventionally and shall deliver and receive copies of filed documents to and from other parties through conventional non-electronic means.

(2)  Any incarcerated party entitled to notice pursuant to statute who notifies the court of his or her incarceration shall be exempt from the mandate of electronic filing until such time as that party is no longer incarcerated.

(3)  For good cause, the court may permit a limited exception to the mandate of electronic filing by allowing a party to initiate a case conventionally or by allowing a party or other person to file a document in an existing case conventionally.

(c) Cases Pending Prior to Effective Date.  Unless otherwise notified by Order of the Administrative Judge, cases pending prior to the effective date of these rules shall not be subject to the requirements of these rules and shall not be accepted for electronic filing.  Filings in such non-electronic cases shall continue to be made conventionally.  However, a party may file a written motion with the court to request to convert a non-electronic case to an electronic case if the pending case is a case type specified for electronic filing.  If the court grants the motion, the case will thereafter be governed by these rules.  Following an order for conversion of the non-electronic case to an electronic case, it shall be the responsibility of the parties to ensure that filings after the conversion date comply with all provisions of these rules.  If the court notifies the parties in a case which had been pending prior to the effective date of these rules that a case is being converted to an electronic case under these rules, the parties will be given sufficient time to comply with registration and other requirements set forth under these rules.  Thereafter, these rules will govern all future activity in converted cases.

(d)  Citation.  These rules shall be cited as “Super. Ct. Supp. R __.”

Rule 1B.  Scope and Effective Date of Rules for Criminal Cases

(a)  Effective Date and Applicability of Rules.  These rules shall govern the electronic filing of all documents filed on and after the date specified in a Supreme Court order implementing electronic filing in superior court in criminal cases.  As good cause appears and as justice may require, the court may waive the application of any rule.

(b)  Electronic Filing Mandatory for Attorneys.  Unless otherwise required or authorized by these rules or an order of the court, all filings by attorneys on or after these rules become effective shall be filed using the court’s electronic filing system.  However, a party may be excused from electronic filing in the circumstances set forth below.

(1)  The court may fully excuse a party from electronic filing if the court finds that:

(A)  a party is protected by law from disclosing certain identifying or contact information; or
(B) extraordinary circumstances would render electronic filing such a hardship that the party would be denied access to the Court.

A party seeking to be fully excused from the mandate of electronic filing shall file a request with the court setting forth the reasons therefor.  A party who is fully excused from the mandate of electronic filing shall file documents conventionally and shall deliver and receive copies of filed documents to and from other parties through conventional non-electronic means.

(2) For good cause, the court may permit a limited exception to the mandate of electronic filing by allowing a party to initiate a case conventionally or by allowing a party or other person to file a document in an existing case conventionally.

(c) Self-represented litigants and bail commissioners shall file all documents conventionally.

(d)  Citation.  These rules shall be cited as “Super. Ct. Supp. R __.”

Rule 2.  Definitions

(a) “Conventionally,” with respect to the filing of documents, means the filing of documents with the court in paper.  With respect to providing copies of court documents and filed documents to a party, “conventionally” means the provision of copies through the mail or through other non-electronic means.

(b) “Document” means any written matter filed by or with the court, whether filed conventionally or electronically, including, but not limited to, motions, pleadings, applications, petitions, notices, declarations, affidavits, exhibits, briefs, memoranda of law, orders and deposition transcripts.

(c) “Filer” or “Registered Filer” means a person registered with the electronic filing system who submits a document for filing with the court.

(d) “Electronic Filing” means the process whereby a filer electronically submits to a court a document in electronic form to initiate an action or to file a document in an existing case.

(e) “Electronic service address” of a party means the electronic mail (“email”) address at or through which the party shall receive electronic service.

(f) “Electronic service” means the electronic transmission of a notification by the electronic filing system to the electronic mail (“email”) address of a party who has consented to electronic service by registering as a filer.  The electronic filing system’s electronic notification will be used for the transmission of court notices, court orders, and filings by parties, and will contain a hyperlink or other means to access a document that was filed or issued electronically for the purpose of accomplishing service.  Documents that require personal service or other formal service of process to confer jurisdiction over a party as a matter of law may not be served electronically.

(g) “Electronic Signature” is a signature, other than an inked signature, as authorized by these rules.

(h) “Non-electronic signature” is an inked signature.

(i) “Original,” as used in these rules to refer to original documents, shall have the same meaning as provided in Rule 1001 of the New Hampshire Rules of Evidence.

Rule 3.  Official Court Record

(a) The official court record for a case filed or maintained in accordance with these rules shall be the electronic case file maintained by the court, as well as any paper filings and other conventional filings maintained by the court in accordance with these rules.

(b) If a court digitizes, records, scans or otherwise reproduces a document that is filed in paper into an electronic record, document or image for entry in the court’s case file, the court’s electronic record, document or image is the official court record of the filed document.  Unless otherwise provided in these rules or by court order, the conventionally filed paper document will not be maintained or retained by the court after the court digitizes, records, scans or otherwise reproduces the document into an electronic record, document or image.

Rule 4.  Relationship to Other Rules

Insofar as these rules conflict with any other existing rules of the superior court which pertain to e-filed cases, these rules shall supersede such existing rules.  All other existing rules of the superior court shall remain in full force and effect.

Rule 5.  Registration Requirements

(a) Registration.  To initiate cases and to file documents in the court’s electronic filing system, a person (an attorney, paralegal or other law firm staff, or a self-represented litigant) must first become a registered filer by completing an online registration, providing a username and password to access the electronic filing system, and accepting the conditions of electronic filing, including those set forth in the “Responsibilities of Registered Filer” section of this rule.

(b) Responsibilities of Registered Filer 

    (1) A registered filer is responsible for all documents that are filed via the registered filer’s username and password.  A registered filer shall not knowingly cause or permit the registered filer’s login information to be used by another person.

    (2) Any electronic filing, downloading or viewing of an electronic file made by use of a username and password shall be deemed to be made with the authorization of the person registered to use the login information.

    (3) If login information is misappropriated, misused or compromised in any way, the person registered to use that login information must promptly notify the court.

      (4) For good cause, the court may issue an order prohibiting a filer from filing electronically in a particular case.

      (5) A registered filer must maintain an email address during the pendency of the case at which the registered filer consents to receive and agrees to accept notices and orders from the court and copies of documents from other registered filers through the electronic filing system.  Whenever notice or provision of copies to a party is required, notice or provision of copies to the last email address on file shall be deemed to satisfy the requirement, and shall be binding on the party.

      (6) All registered filers shall maintain accurate contact information during the pendency of the case.

 

II.     Filing Documents

 

Rule 6.  Filing: Time of Filing and Effect of Technical Problems

(a) Manner of Filing – General

(1) A case, other than a case in which a party pays the filing fee at the court, shall be considered initiated and filed with the court when:

      (A) the case-initiating document has been electronically submitted to the court’s electronic filing system;

      (B) the filing fee, if applicable, has been paid electronically, or a properly supported motion to waive the filing fee has been submitted; and

      (C) the submission has been acknowledged as received by the court’s electronic filing system.

    (2) A document, other than a document for which the filing party pays the filing fee at the court, shall be considered filed when:

    (A) it has been electronically submitted to the court’s electronic filing system;

    (B) the filing fee, if applicable, has been paid electronically or a properly supported motion to waive the filing fee has been submitted; and

    (C) the submission has been acknowledged as received by the court’s electronic filing system.

    (3) Emailing or faxing documents shall not constitute “filing” with the court.

(b) Cases or documents for which the filing party will mail the filing fee or pay the filing fee at court.  When fees for case initiation or other documents are not paid online and instead are paid through U.S. mail or at court, the filer shall pay in person at the court where the matter will be heard or mail the filing fee to the address specified by the court, to complete the filing process.  No submission shall be considered complete until the fee is paid.  Failure to pay the filing fee within five (5) business days of the electronic filing may cause the submission to be purged from the electronic filing system.  Filers may pay at the court with cash, check or credit card or through the U.S. mail by check. 

(c) Time of Filing and Effect of Technical Problems

(1) An electronic filing may be made any day of the week, including weekends and holidays, and at any time of day that the electronic filing system is available.  The expansive availability of the electronic filing system shall not affect the provisions for computation and extension of time set forth by statute or court rule.

(2) A document is timely filed if it is filed before midnight on the date the filing is due.  If a filer encounters technical problems when attempting to make an electronic submission, the following rules apply.

      (A) If a technical problem with the court’s electronic filing system prevents the court from receiving an electronic submission on a particular court day, and the electronic filer: (a) demonstrates that he or she attempted to electronically file the document on that day; and (b) electronically submits the document on the first court business day that the technical problem no longer exists, the court will deem the document as having been received on the day that the technical problem prevented the filer’s submission.

      (B) Technical problems on the filer’s end, including but not limited to phone line problems, problems with the filer’s internet service, or problems with the filer’s hardware or software, will not constitute a technical failure under these rules and will not excuse an untimely filing, unless the court orders otherwise.

    (3) A party who files a document within 48 hours prior to a court proceeding must comply with Rule 13, regarding service of the document, and must also bring paper copies of the document for delivery to other parties during the court proceeding.

    (4) A party who files a document during a court proceeding must bring paper copies of the document for delivery to other parties during the court proceeding.

    (5) If the clerk discovers an error or defect in a filer’s electronic submission of a document, the clerk may notify the filer of the error or defect, identify corrective actions to be taken by the filer, and establish a date by which the filer must correct the error or defect.  The failure of a filer to correct the error or defect by that date may result in action adverse to the filer.

Rule 7.  Document and Other Item Submission

(a) Methods of Submitting Documents for Electronic Filing.  A filer may select one of the following methods to submit a document for filing through the electronic filing system, unless the type of document requires that it be submitted in only one of the following ways:

    (1) System-generated document.  The filer completes a guided interview, questionnaire or prompts through the electronic filing system, and the system then generates a document for filing based on the responses and information provided by the filer.

    (2) Court-created form.  The filer completes a court-created form and uploads the completed document to the electronic filing system.

    (3) Party-created document.  The filer creates a document for filing and uploads the completed document to the electronic filing system.

    (4) Attachments to a system-generated document, or to a completed court-created form, or to a party-created document. If the exhibit or attachment is a document newly prepared for filing, the filer prepares and submits the document using methods (1), (2), or (3), as applicable.  If the exhibit or attachment is a preexisting document not newly prepared for filing, the filer scans and uploads the document to the electronic filing system.

(b) Format of Documents Filed Electronically

    (1) All documents must be in Portable Document (PDF) non-editable format.

    (2) Hyperlinks and other electronic navigational aids may be included in an electronically filed document as an aid to the court.  Each hyperlink must contain a text reference to the target of the link.  Although hyperlinks may be included in a document as an aid to the court, the material referred to by the hyperlinks is not considered part of the official record or filing unless already part of the record in the case.  Hyperlinks may be used to provide an electronic link to other portions of the same document or other portions of the court file.  Hyperlinks to cited authority may not replace standard citation format for constitutional citations, statutes, cases, rules or other similarly cited materials.

(c) Format of Documents Filed Conventionally.  If a paper document is conventionally submitted to the court for filing, scanning and entry into the court’s electronic case file, the document must be printed on one side, must be logically organized, and must be delivered to the court with no tabs, staples or permanent clips.

(d) Original Documents and Other Paper Documents That Were Not Prepared for Electronic Filing

    (1) When a statute, court rule, or other law requires the filing of an original, as opposed to a duplicate copy, of a will, a negotiable instrument or other document (see, e.g., Rule 1001 et seq. of the New Hampshire Rules of Evidence), the filer shall file the original document conventionally.

    (2) For any other preexisting paper document, including a document containing a non-electronic signature (e.g., an affidavit from a prior proceeding, an offer letter, or a written cost estimate), the filer must scan the document before it is filed electronically.  The filer’s submission of the scanned document shall be deemed a certification by the filer that the document scanned is the original or a duplicate copy.

(e) Attachments to Filings

    (1) An attachment that exceeds the technical standards for the electronic filing system or is unable to be electronically filed must be filed with the court on CD or DVD only.  When an attachment is filed on approved media, a notice of exhibit attachment shall be filed through the electronic filing system.

    (2) Attachments that cannot reasonably be filed in an electronically converted or scanned PDF format, such as bulky attachments, physical exhibits, and demonstrative evidence, shall be conventionally filed.

    (3) Attachments that are in electronic format must meet the requirements specified in the Electronic Filing User Guide.

    (4) Proposed trial and hearing exhibits shall be filed directly with the court in person.  Proposed trial and hearing exhibits shall not be filed electronically.  Exhibits offered at trials or hearings that can be maintained in an electronic format shall be converted by the court and maintained electronically for purposes of the official court record.

(f) Documents Submitted for In Camera Review.  All documents submitted for in camera review shall be conventionally filed.

Rule 8.  Signatures on Filings

(a) Original Document Deemed Signed.  The electronic submission of a document by a registered filer shall be considered a signed original if:

    (1) The document is electronically signed by the registered filer in either one of the following ways:

      (A) the typed symbol /s/ followed by the typed name of the registered filer submitting the document (example: /s/ John Smith); or

      (B) a graphic representation of the filer’s actual signature; and

    (2) The document including the electronic signature also includes the following information:

      (A) name (in addition to name typed as part of electronic signature in section (1));

      (B) address;

      (C) telephone number (if available);

      (D) e-mail address;

      (E) law firm (for attorneys only); and

      (F) NH Bar Association Identification Number (for attorneys only).

(b) When Multiple Signatures Are Required.

(1) When multiple signatures are required on documents, each person named as a signer of the document shall either:

      (A) sign in one of the ways a filer signs documents described in (a)(1) above; or

      (B) authorize the filer to sign the document on his or her behalf.  The filer shall represent having obtained approval to sign for another signer named in the document as follows:

      Typed symbol /s/ followed by the typed name of the other signer, followed by, “Signed by [filer’s name] with permission of [other signer’s name.]”

      Example: /s/ Jennifer Jones
      Signed by John Smith with permission of Jennifer Jones.

    (2) The electronic signature of each named signer shall be accompanied by the same information required to accompany the filer’s electronic signature described above in (a)(2).  However, when a document is signed with permission of another named signer, the filer’s information shall accompany only the filer’s own signature.

(c) Notwithstanding the above, in its discretion, the court may require a graphic representation of any filer’s actual signature.

(d) An electronic signature meeting the requirements described above in (a)(1) and (2) shall be considered the functional equivalent to a handwritten signature produced on paper.

(e) Any party to a case may challenge the authenticity of the signature on an electronically filed document by filing an objection within ten (10) days after discovery that the signature is not authentic.

Rule 9.  Signatures on Court-Issued Electronic Documents

(a) A document requiring a judge’s signature shall be deemed signed if it bears one of the following:

    (1) the typed symbol /s/ followed by the typed name of the judge (example: /s/ John Smith); or

    (2) a graphic representation of the judge’s signature.

(b) A document requiring a clerk’s signature shall be deemed signed if it bears one of the following:

    (1) the typed symbol /s/ followed by the typed name of the clerk (example /s/ John Smith); or

    (2) a graphic representation of the clerk’s signature.

Rule 10.  Notarized Signatures on Filings (Notarial Acts)

(a) A notarial act associated with an electronically filed document must conform to the requirements of notarial acts and signatures provided in RSA 456-B and RSA 294-E.

(b) The signature of a person who executed an electronically filed document and the signature of a person who performed a notarial act related to such a document must be presented by:

    (1) The typed symbol /s/ followed by the typed name of the signer(s) (example: /s/ John Smith); or

    (2) The graphic representation of each signer’s actual signature.

(c) Any party to a case may challenge the authenticity of the signature of a person who performed a notarial act on a document filed electronically in that case by filing an objection within ten (10) days after discovery that the signature is not authentic.

Comment

For requirements of notarial acts and signatures on electronic documents, see, especially, RSA 456-B:7 and RSA 294-E:2, VIII, RSA 294-E:9, and RSA 294-E:11.

 

Rule 11.  Filing Confidential Documents or Documents Containing Confidential Information.

All electronically filed documents must comply with New Hampshire Rule of Criminal Procedure 50(b) or Superior Court of the State of New Hampshire Civil Rule 13B.

III.  Service of Documents

Rule 12.  Formal Service of Process

(a) Proof of Formal Service of Process.  Documents that require personal service or other formal service of process to confer jurisdiction over a party as a matter of law shall not be served electronically.  Whenever a party is required by statute, court rule or court order to file proof of formal service of process, the proof of service document shall be scanned and filed electronically in accordance with the provisions of Rule 7(d) concerning “Original Documents and Other Paper Documents That Were Not Prepared for Electronic Filing.”

(b) Attestation/Certification of Documents.  A document shall be considered properly attested or certified for purposes of service of process or other purpose when:

    (1) The document, with statutory attestation language and bearing an electronic certification stamp approved by the Supreme Court as meeting the requirements for attestation, is electronically transmitted directly from the Superior Court Electronic Filing Center to the filer; or

    (2) In limited circumstances as directed by the court, the original paper document is issued by the clerk/deputy clerk bearing the statutory attestation.

Rule 13.  Electronic Service of Documents

(a) “Electronic service” satisfies the requirement that a party provide to all other counsel, or to the opposing party if self-represented, copies of all pleadings filed and communications addressed to the court.  See Rules of the Superior Court of the State of New Hampshire Rule 3. 

(b) Acceptance of Electronic Service by Registered Filers; Non-Electronic Service Required to Other Parties.

    (1) Registration as a filer shall constitute consent to acceptance of electronic service of court documents and documents filed by other registered filers in the case.  Except as otherwise authorized by these rules, no other form of delivery to a registered filer shall be permitted.  When a filer submits a document to the court through the electronic filing system, and one or more other parties to the case or their representatives have registered as filers, the filing party shall cause electronic service through the filing system to be made on each other registered filer by so designating at the time of the filing party’s submission.

    (2) A party who has been granted an exception from the mandate of electronic filing shall be provided with paper copies of all court documents and documents filed by other parties in the case.  A party who has been granted an exception from the mandate of electronic filing shall provide paper copies of all of his or her filings to the other parties in the case.   It shall be the responsibility of the party filing a document to provide a paper copy of the filing to all other parties in accordance with this provision. Provision of paper copies shall continue until the party is no longer excepted from the mandate of electronic filing.

    (3) A party who has not yet registered as a filer shall be provided with paper copies of all court documents and documents filed by other parties in the case.  A party who has not yet registered as a filer, and who has requested an exception from the mandate of electronic filing, shall provide paper copies of all of his or her filings to the other parties in the case.  It shall be the responsibility of the party filing a document to provide a paper copy of the filing to all other parties in accordance with this provision.  Provision of paper copies shall continue until the non-registered party registers.

(c) Closed Cases. When a case has been closed, all service shall be accomplished as in all other actions at law or as dictated by statute or rule, until the case has been reopened in the electronic filing system.  See Rule 12.

(d) Certificate of Service.  A filing party shall state in every document, whether filed electronically or conventionally, that a copy of the document is being timely provided to all other parties in the case.  The document shall identify the name of each party receiving a copy of the document through the electronic filing system and the name of each party receiving a paper copy of the document.

(e) Court-Issued Documents.  The electronic filing system will electronically serve any court-issued document to all registered filers entitled to electronic service.  Electronic service by the court, through a notification to a registered filer, constitutes service or notice of the document.  The clerk shall mail or otherwise conventionally deliver paper copies of court-issued documents to each party who has been granted an exception from the mandate of electronic filing or who has not yet registered as a filer. 

(f) No Contact Orders.  Absent a court order to the contrary, a party subject to a no contact order may use electronic service to provide copies of all pleadings filed and communications addressed to the court to the opposing party.

 

(IV)  Miscellaneous

Rule 14.     Certified or Attested Court Documents

          When a statute, court rule or administrative order requires a document to be certified or attested to by means of a court seal or otherwise, such a document shall be considered properly attested to or certified when:

(a) The document, with statutory attestation language and bearing an electronic certification stamp approved by the Supreme Court as meeting the requirements for attestation, is electronically transmitted directly from the Superior Court E-Filing Center to the Registered Filer or any other person or entity as directed by the court; or

(b) In limited circumstances as directed by the court, the original paper document is issued by the clerk/deputy clerk bearing the physical seal of the court or other evidence of attestation.