December 21, 2014

Change of Address, Bounce-Back Email, and Non-Admitted Appearance Processes Revised by United States District Court for Colorado

The United States District Court for the District of Colorado has revised its rules regarding how the court will process attorney address changes, email bounce-backs, and appearances by non-admitted attorneys. It is important for attorneys to be aware of their obligations to the courts, especially regarding how to proceed when you change your physical address or email address or when you need to appear before the court when you are not admitted:

Change of Address:

Currently, clerk’s office staff compare the signature block of an attorney’s most recent filing with the attorney’s contact address information in CM/ECF and, when needed, will update the contact information to comport with the most recent provided address. The current process of checking for address changes for attorneys is very time consuming and impedes on the time needed to address the efficient docketing of case filings and court actions.

Compliance with local rules D.C.COLO.LCivR 10.1M and D.C.COLO.LCrR 49.3M regarding notice of change of address falls exclusively upon attorneys. Clerk’s office staff should not provide attorney support work regarding the checking for a need to update an address. Staff will, therefore, no longer automatically check for address update information and will rely on proper notice by the attorney as required by the Court’s local rules. This revised process will go into effect on April 9, 2012.

Bounce-back Emails:

In 2005, when the court went live on electronic filing, the clerk’s office began to monitor bounce-back emails related to electronic case entries posted by clerk’s office staff, chambers staff, or attorney counsel. Typically, bounce-back emails occur as a result of counsel’s failure to update their email addresses. The monitoring process was initially implemented as a check to the innovative use of electronic filing and service and notice of the same. Use of electronic filing is now the standard process for all attorneys to post and receive case information.

As directed by local rules D.C.COLO.LCivR 5.2D, D.C.COLO.LCivR 10.1M, D.C.COLO.LCrR 49.2D, and D.C.COLO.LCrR 49.3M, counsel are to inform the court of any change of email address within 5 days of the change. Whenever an attorney filer’s email address changes, the attorney is to electronically update her/his ECF electronic profile to activate the new email address. As long as an attorney is in good standing with the bar of the Court, it is the attorney’s responsibility to keep his/her email address(es) current regardless of place of employment, whether or not counsel of record in an open or closed case, or even if no longer practicing law.

It has been the experience of clerk’s office staff that bounce-back emails resulting from wrong email addresses occur in a variety of situations. Attempts to determine correct email addresses are very time consuming and often unproductive due to non-responsive attorneys. A number of opinions from district and appellate courts exist citing the responsibility of counsel to monitor the docket of the court for the need to address such matters as maintaining up-to-date contact information, including current email addresses. Therefore, effective April 9, 2012, the clerk’s office will no longer monitor bounce-back emails. Should chambers have a question about a specific attorney’s email address, clerk’s office staff will certainly assist with any effort to address the question.

Non-Admitted Appearing Attorneys:

In the past, when an attorney made an appearance pursuant to D.C.COLO.LCivR 11.1A or D.C.COLO.LCrR 44.1A, and the attorney was not admitted to practice in this court, clerk’s office staff would contact the attorney by phone, email, or letter informing her/him of the duty to seek admission or withdraw his/her appearance. An attorney may be contacted multiple times over a protracted period. Unfortunately, this time consuming process does not usually result in the attorney taking the requested action. When no action is taken by the attorney, the clerk’s office notifies chambers that the attorney has been unresponsive.

To streamline this procedure and focus the responsibility on the attorney’s obligation to comply with the local rules, the clerk’s office will begin using the following docket entry in place of the an attempt to gain compliance via direct contact:

“The Court construes that (name of attorney) has entered an appearance as an attorney in (cite the case number.) Pursuant to (D.C.COLO.LCivR 11.1A or D.C.COLO.LCrR 44.1A), only members admitted to the bar of this court can enter an appearance as an attorney. The attorney records of the court do not reflect that (name of the attorney) is a member of the bar. Unless an application for admission to the bar is received within 20 days of the date this entry, further action may be taken by the court.”

Streamlining the procedure will eliminate letters, emails, and phone calls by clerk’s office staff and may further assist in reducing associated work performed by chambers staff. The docket entry will provide notice to appearing attorneys and chambers. This procedure will go into effect on April 9, 2012.

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