MACOMB COUNTY CLERK WANTS FAX FILING OF COURT DOCUMENTS
On Wednesday the Legislative and Administrative Services Committee of the Macomb County Board of Commissioners will consider the County Clerk/Register of Deeds’s proposal to accept fax filings for all county circuit court documents. The service costs $2.00 (total, not per page) and the normal court filing fees still apply. Anyone may use the service and it is not limited to attorneys. Although the fax filing service would pay for itself, board approval is needed because money is involved.
“By letting attorneys and others familiar with the process fax their court filings, it frees up my staff to spend more time at the counter with people who need personal assistance,” said the Macomb County Clerk. “Fax filing is just another way to provide convenient service.”
Even though Macomb County is not the first to accept fax filings, it is believed to be the first county in the state to attempt to accept every document via fax. It is also believed to be the first to implement fax filing with such a low service fee: only $2.00. If approved, Macomb County would accept any type of pleading by fax, while some other counties only accept certain pleadings or require customers to send original documents through the mail in addition to their fax. Some counties charge a per page fax filing fee. In Macomb County, customers who file by fax would not be required to also file an original copy. The fax copy received in the Macomb County Clerk’s office would be deemed the “original.” The Macomb County Clerk said Macomb County’s policy is subject to change if it is warranted after actual practice, but for now she will try to accept everything via fax.
A court rule from the Michigan Supreme Court allows courts to accept fax filings if a local court policy is also adopted. Upon the Macomb County Clerk’s request late last year, then Chief Judge Peter J. Maceroni adopted a local court policy allowing fax filing. Current Chief Judge Antonio P. Viviano decided to continue implementing the program. Last month the County Clerk started a pilot program to accept fax filings.
“I thank Judges Peter J. Maceroni and Antonio P. Viviano for their willingness to let us try fax filing for all court documents,” said the Macomb County Clerk. “The Macomb County Circuit Court and clerk’s office are leaders in our use of technology to provide good customer service.”
“We are always looking for ways to improve service to county residents and fax filing is one way to do so,” said Judge Antonio P. Viviano. “The Macomb County Circuit Court and county clerk are committed to providing excellent service.”
“The Macomb County Clerk’s service will benefit my clients and my law firm. The clerk’s office is very good at handling all mailed-in documents, and the fax service will be useful when deadlines to file are near,” said Paul Garvey, an attorney with a practice in St. Clair Shores, who expects to use the service. “Attorneys are already pleased with the Macomb County Clerk’s Internet real estate deed system and her Internet searchable circuit court case index.”
If the Macomb County Clerk’s proposal is approved, then to file a document by fax, a person would first get a fax filing cover sheet. This form is available on the Macomb County Clerk’s web site and on her 24-hour, toll-free, fax-on-demand system by calling 1-888-99-CLERK and requesting document #5205. Using the cover sheet, a customer explains what is being faxed and provides credit card information. The cover sheet is then faxed with the court documents to the clerk’s office and processed by the Macomb County Clerk’s staff. Documents received by 4:30 p.m. on business days would be clocked in by the clerk’s office as being received that day, which is the same as for documents received via U.S. Mail or filed in person at the counter.
If the documents being filed by fax do not meet the filing requirements, or the credit card payment is not authorized, then the clerk’s office will notify the filer via fax of the problem so that the filer may correct it.
The Macomb County Clerk’s office wants to implement this new service without purchasing a fax machine because incoming faxes would actually automatically be converted to electronic images that her staff can process as E-mail and print on computer printers instead of tying up a fax machine. The company to provide this service would be Efax and the cost to the county is expected to be $100 per month. This innovative use of technology also means filers have little or no risk of getting a busy signal.
The Macomb County clerk’s office keeps records for Macomb County Circuit Court criminal, civil and domestic proceedings. In 2004, there were 17,372 new cases filed with the circuit court.
“When you look at the caseload we have, Macomb County has the hardest working judges in the state,” said the Macomb County Clerk. “Fax filing is one innovative way our court is trying to make things easier for the taxpayers by efficiently processing documents. Giving our customers choices as to how they want to conduct business is the best way to keep people satisfied with our service.”
Fax filing is not the only recent improvement made by the Macomb County Clerk in the county clerk’s court section. Other improvements in that area include:
- Putting the Macomb County Circuit Court case index on the Internet and expanding the service to include docket entries and court calendars. The data is updated in real time as soon as it is put on the county clerk’s system at no charge to the public. See http://clerk.macombgov.org/.
- If you want a copy of a circuit court judgment or other item from a court file, you no longer have to drive to the clerk’s office. The Macomb County Clerk’s office accepts fax requests for court documents and will even fax them back to you or send them via overnight mail. Get the fax form by calling 888-99-CLERK and requesting document #5000.
- There’s no need to go to the Macomb County Clerk’s office to get a form because she now has a toll-free fax-on-demand system to provide forms and information. 1-888-99-CLERK. The system even works on weekends when the office is closed!
- Victims of abuse now have help because the Macomb County Clerk started a Personal Protection Order Assistance Center to help people complete court forms and understand the legal process.
- The Macomb County Clerk was the first county clerk in Michigan to offer jurors summoned for jury duty free bus rides to and from the courthouse. People who do not have transportation may still perform their civic duty. This service is provided at no additional cost to the county.
- The Macomb County Clerk also offers free library books to jurors. Those summoned for jury duty may request books on the county clerk’s web site. When jurors arrive for jury duty, the books are waiting in the jury room. This service is provided at no additional cost to the county.
- Was the first county clerk in Michigan to accept credit card payments for court filings and vital records, making paying for services easier, especially if you don’t know the cost of the services you need ahead of time.
- Ended potential “judge shopping” by computerizing judge selection when lawsuits are filed. Judges are now randomly selected when a new court case is opened and the identity of the judge is not revealed until after the filing fee has been paid.
Out of State: 310-575-5035