Posts Tagged ‘email’

Crashing the Third Party: Experts Weigh How Far the Government/Opposing Parties Can Go in Reading Your Email & Documents in the Cloud

August 16, 2012

This article Crashing the Third Party: Experts Weigh How Far the Government Can Go in Reading Your Email – Magazine – ABA Journal discusses whether one loses confidentially when sending documents via email, and by extension, when one stores documents in the cloud. This can be compared/contrasted with previous rulings on the expectation of privacy in bank records and phone numbers dialed. This is a area of increasing concern for both lawyers and their clients. Because the rights are no longer clearly defined and are being impacted by changes in technology, it is only by the retroactive application of rulings to the situations that the current expectations of privacy become clear. I think this is a topic that deserves more attention and I intend to share thoughts on it going forward.

It is also important to note that this issue is not limited to the Government, but raises the question in the civil litigation of whether the attorney/client privilege is breached by sharing confidential documents in the cloud or via email. Is email entitled to the same protections as paper mail sent through the post office? Should only the “envelope” data be considered exposed, or if the ISP or email provider scans the actual attachments for spam or viruses, has that caused a breach of confidentiality and hence a loss of the privilege?

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Florida Supreme Court Mandates Use of Email for Service and E-Filing of documents

July 1, 2012

This order SC10-2101 (as corrected) from the Florida Supreme Court mandates email service as of September 1, 2012 in civil, probate, small claims, and family law divisions of the trial and appellate courts. Email service in criminal, traffic, and juvenile divisions will be required as of October 1, 2013.  Detailed instructions, including mandatory and optional items are included in the order, but it will take some time to sort out the new obligations imposed.

I would recommend that attorneys reevaluate how they handle “junk” email to ensure they receive proper notice.  It is permissible to include secondary email addresses which can be monitored by an assistant or perhaps  by a litigation support specialist on a firm wide basis, to ensure receipt of service is properly logged and notated in the firm’s case file.

The Court also  in SC11-399 mandated electronic filing (e-filing) procedures for all documents filed in Florida Courts pursuant to Rule 2.525, starting with the  civil, probate, small claims, and family law divisions of the trial courts, as well as for appeals to the circuit courts in these categories of cases, on April 1, 2013, except as may be otherwise provided by administrative order. E-filing will be required in the criminal, traffic, and juvenile divisions of the trial and appellate courts, on October 1, 2013, except as may be otherwise provided by administrative order. Additional details can be found on the Florida State Courts website. One important detail to be aware of is that even though service is deemed complete when the email is sent, e-mail service is treated as service by mail for the computation of time, as opposed to being treated like a fax.

Technology continues to play an increasing role in the practice of law, and Florida is moving towards the Court’s stated goal of “of a fully electronic court system.” I continue to believe that the ever growing prevalence of tablet use by lawyers will also cause paper to become less common in the court room. These changes will make it easier to keep all of your documents in electronic format, because that is how they will be need to be sent and received.


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