Vol. 8, No. 11 November 2012
Probate Filing Changes
On 1/1/2013 the Clerk’s Office will change to a drop-filing system for informal probate filings, which will match the filing process currently in place in 13 of Arizona’s counties. Beginning in January, informal probate documents can be filed at the probate filing counters and at the Clerk’s satellite facilities around the Valley, including the Central Court Building. This will allow runner services to include probate filings in their daily rounds and reduce their trips to multiple locations.
The drop-filing process is similar to the depository box filing process. Documents will be acknowledged at the time of presentation, scanned at the dropped location, and will be reviewed by the probate registrar or a deputy registrar within three business days.
For accepted filings, the notifications, paperwork and letters will be processed at the filing site by a probate specialist. A case number will be assigned, any fees processed and the case will be filed-in. Documents will be available for pick-up at the location where they were dropped for filing. For declined documents, a notification will be completed explaining the filing deficiency. New forms will be prepared for implementation, including contact information, the file counter acknowledgement form and acceptance and rejection forms.
The Clerk’s Office has seen a rise in attorneys providing multiple copies of proposed forms of judgment to be conformed and mailed to parties in default. This has included dozens of addresses where the defaulted party might receive mail. Pursuant to Rule 58(e) of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure, a copy of a default judgment or notice of the Court’s approval of same, shall only be sent to parties that have entered an appearance in the matter. The Clerk’s Office is not required to distribute notice of the entry of judgment to parties in default for failure to appear. Effective December 1, the Clerk’s Office will no longer conform and mail copies to parties in default. Attorneys are encouraged to provide only enough proposed forms of judgment and envelopes as provided for in the Rule. Runner slips will continue to be accepted in lieu of copies and envelopes when the Plaintiff is the only appearing party.
Disposal of Non-Standard Items
Non-standard items submitted with paper filings will be disposed of if they cannot be scanned by the Clerk. Documents are processed through black-and-white scanners designed to image 8 ½ x 11 non-colored paper. Those images become the official record and the Clerk’s Office disposes of the originals. Do not include items such as CDs, DVDs, VHS and cassette tapes, photographs not copied to 8 ½ x 11 paper, paperback books or other items that cannot be scanned, do not comply with court rules or that should be submitted as courtroom exhibits. If left with the Clerk’s Office, there is no process to scan these items and they will not appear in the official record. Documents, photographs, maps, charts, select pages from books and other items that are not standard sizes should be formatted to an 8 ½ x 11 size on white paper before filing with the Clerk. Keep the originals as needed for use at hearing or trial.
When filing paper documents, keep in mind that the high volume of filings requires the Clerk’s Office to rely on how you package and deliver documents for proper processing, particularly when filing stacks of documents at a time. Documents that are not stapled to other documents are treated as separate documents and will be filed and docketed separately (Example: Motions in different cases). Documents that are stapled together will be filed and docketed as one document (Example: a Motion with Exhibits). Before presenting your documents for filing, make sure pleadings intended for separate cases aren’t stapled together.
The Clerk’s Office and the Superior Court in Maricopa County will be closed on Friday, November 23. As a result of a legislative change and implementation by Maricopa County, the Clerk and Superior Court now remain open on the second Monday in October (Columbus Day) and close for business on the Friday following Thanksgiving. Mandated services like Initial Appearance Court continue and documents can still be filed electronically where applicable or through the external filing depository boxes around the Valley.