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Instructions for formatting, preparing, and presenting orders and documents for the Judge's signature

Courts have been electronically signing orders and judgments for quite some time and will use electronic signing and dating of most documents and court orders almost exclusively in the future. For attorneys who have been using efiling for years, the signing process has not changed. For judges, on most programs dealing with file management and especially remote signing of documents, the documents are usually showing up in a pdf format rather than hard copy.

There are several apps and programs available and in use that allow esigning and edating, so each person’s experience may differ slightly. But, whichever platform you use, these simple formatting instructions will apply to most of the apps. However, check with individual courts if you are uncertain.

When formatting, preparing, and filing an order, or a document containing an order, do not start your Order with a date line reference, such as, “On this ___ day of _____, 20___, came on to be ….”. Just start it out as follows:  “On this date, came on to be ….”. Don’t give your judges more blanks to fill in than are necessary. The reason is that with electronic signing and dating, every single blank requires a new action. Most edating apps and programs will drop in the date with a single action, in the proper format. Therefore, don’t use a date group at the beginning of your document; only at the end. If you feel compelled to use a date at the beginning, use a simple blank line.

The same rule applies on closing a document or order. In the past we’ve seen the document read, “Signed this ______ day of _______, 20___.” In that instance, three separate actions are required for a judge to input a date when esigning. The better format is as shown below using a single date line. It is faster and cleaner. Therefore, for e-signatures and edating on “fill-in-the-date-blank” type documents, submit the date blanks in a format as follows:

DATED:  ___________________________


                                                                   ALBERT M. McCAIG, JR.
                                                                   Judge, Presiding

Using this format, only one action is needed as most esigning and edating apps will drop in the date in one action. This is much quicker and cleaner.

On Search Warrants, Subpoenas, Orders for Assistance, Temporary Restraining Orders, and other documents requiring a “certification” statement and a time, the format should be as follows:

ORDERED and Certified this date: _______________________

Time: ______________________


Then finish with the judge’s signature line.

When formatted as above, documents will be cleaner, clearer, and more accurate. Even if an Order is ultimately signed in a hard-copy format, the date and time with this new format will still work.

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