For Immediate Release - August 14, 2008

Pilot Program for Electronic Document Filing and Scheduling Orders for Adjudicatory Proceedings Announced

Effective immediately, the State Ethics Commission's Legal Division is adopting a new form scheduling order and implementing a pilot e-filing program for adjudicatory proceedings. These changes are intended to eliminate delays and increase schedule predictability, as well as to make it easier for parties to file legal papers with the Commission.

Under the new scheduling procedure, an order establishing dates for the respondent's answer, for serving discovery requests and responses, for filing and briefing dispositive motions, and for hearing-related filings will be drafted by the Legal Division and sent to the parties as soon as an order to show cause has been filed pursuant to G.L. c. 268A § 4 and 930 CMR § 1.01(5). While the actual hearing date will be set by the Presiding Officer assigned to conduct the hearing, the scheduling order will ensure that every case is ready for hearing within the 90 days allowed by 930 CMR § 1.01(9)(b).

The Legal Division has also developed a pilot program that will permit parties who have registered with the Commission to file documents electronically. Registration simply means filing a short form with contact information with the Commission. Parties and attorneys who have done so will then have the convenience of filing required documents electronically rather than in paper form. Participation in this program is entirely voluntary.

"The Commission is undertaking these initiatives to streamline the adjudicatory process to ensure that hearings are held in as timely a fashion as possible," according to State Ethics Commission Executive Director Karen L. Nober. "By using available technology, such as the ability to file documents electronically, we can make the process more efficient and less burdensome for the parties."

The Ethics Commission Form Scheduling Order and the Electronic Case Filing Administrative Procedures Manual are available on the Commission's website, www.mass.gov/ethics, under the link, "Electronic Document Filing." The Legal Division welcomes comments intended to improve these initiatives. Comments may be addressed to Deirdre Roney, General Counsel and Legal Division Chief, by telephone at (617) 371-9509 or by e-mail at droney@eth.state.ma.us.