Georgia Court of Appeals to Tack on “Convenience Fee” for E-filing

Yesterday, I E-filed two briefs in the Georgia Court of Appeals. At the log in screen I was greeted by a message from the clerk’s office indicating that they are going to tack on a $15.00 “convenience fee” for every case you e-file in the Georgia Court of Appeals, effective September 6.

The explanation offered is that the increase in the filing fee from $80 to $300 in 2009 has resulted in an increase in the “cost of processing the transaction charged by the credit card companies.” They go on to explain that the cost is still cheaper than paying a courier or shipping overnight. I love the honest acknowledgement that lawyers who practice before the Georgia Court of Appeals wait until the last minute.

I’m not mad at the Court (and it really wouldn’t matter if I were.). Submitting something the old fashioned way is a pain in the briefs. The old fashioned way entails buying those backings that you only see when you are sending off a brief or on Law and Order when Jack McCoy gets served with a motion to suppress by this week’s guest actor filling in as this the slimy clueless defense attorney.You don’t have to buy those things anymore, and Law and Order can have the rest of them as far as I am concerned.

Filing the old fashioned way also means spreading a bunch of copies out all over the place and having the staple jam as you try to staple the little packets together. Then you have to use the right ninja force to try to get the next staple to go through while covering up the old staple hole. So, $15 is worth the “convenience.”

When you e-file, you only have to print out the copy for the DA because those guys largely don’t e-file or even email for that matter. But still, e-filing makes things easier.

But I can’t help but notice that criminal appellate attorneys are bearing the burden for the civil bar’s fee increase. Our filings fees are still $80. Why are we paying an increased convenience fee? Also, aren’t we subsidizing the Court’s convenience also. After all, the Court does not have to administer the handling of so much paper as the files are maintained and moved around from judge to judge.

The sad part of all of this is that the judiciary could never explain to the legislature that it should finance e-filing because the amount of money spent in increased credit card fees is more than saved in administrative costs. Such conversation would be lost on the party in power in Georgia, most of whom would like Georgia to have only two branches of government anyway.

Still, it’s $15 worth paying to help yourself and the Court to go paperless, but not with a smile.

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