SOUTHFIELD — Courts in the state of Michigan have the opportunity to operate more efficiently now that rules recognizing the legality of electronic signature in the Michigan courts were put in place last week by the Michigan Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court, under the leadership of Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr., amended MCR 1.109 to specifically provide for the use of electronic signatures within Michigan Court Rules.
This evolutionary step allows courts to further leverage paperless technologies that have been widely accepted in business and government transactions for many years. The changes, which went into effect May 24, will make courts more efficient and improve the justice system for the public. Documents are already signed electronically in some of Michigan’s most advanced courts, however this change will allow the technology to expand court-wide.
Specifically, the Court added a new subsection C to Rule 1.109, which provides: “(C) Signatures. (1) A signature, as required by these court rules and law, means a written signature as defined by MCL 8.3q or an electronic signature as defined by this sub rule. (2) An electronic signature means an electronic sound, symbol or process, attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record. (3) If a law or court rule requires a signature to be notarized or made under oath, the requirement is satisfied if the electronic signature of the person authorized to perform those acts, together with all other information required to be included by other applicable law or court rule, is attached to or logically associated with the signature. (4) Retention of a signature electronically affixed to a document that will be retained by the court in electronic format must not be dependent upon the mechanism that was used to affix that signature.”
“Courts need technology to improve processes and judicial outcomes and these tools are imperative to that model,” said ImageSoft President Scott Bade. “Courts generally lag behind in technology, and this is a good thing, because we want our criminal justice system to change prudently. This ruling recognizes that this technology has been vetted and is now ready for widespread adoption.”
ImageSoft, which works with the courts to improve processes, offers both electronic signature and certification tools. Its TrueSign and TrueCertify solutions are widely used in Michigan and nationwide.
West Michigan’s Ottawa County was an early adopter of the technology and has been using both TrueSign and TrueCertify.
“This change is a positive step forward by the Michigan Supreme Court,” said Kevin Bowling, Court Administrator, 20th Circuit Court/Ottawa County Probate Court. “It will support the efforts of many trial courts to follow industry best practices regarding electronic content management, increase operational efficiency and improve public service.”
View the complete ruling at: http://courts.michigan.gov/supremecourt/Resources/Administrative/2006-47_2012-05-24_order.pdf