Rapid Legal’s Los Angeles Court Runner, Benjamin Larson, offers his insider perspective on how to avoid a court filing rejection at the court:
It’s always a good habit to double-check your work. Is that enough? Usually yes, but when it comes to court documents, you should always take the time to give them one last review before sending them to be filed. That last review can be crucial in catching a wrongly dated form or a missing signature; even an out-of-date Proof of Service. When you’ve finished filling in a form or titling a document, check it. When it looks good, check it again. Before sending it, check it one more time. Your client, your case or your reputation could depend on it.
Sign and date everything.
This might sound self-explanatory, but a missing signature is a surefire way to have your documents rejected by the court. Even if the window clerk misses it, you can bet the clerk of the department won’t. This is a very common pitfall for court rejections. Consider yourself warned (wink).
Be understanding of the clerks.
The clerks hold the ultimate power. They can decide whether or not to file your documents simply based on the kind of day they’re having. Okay, not all clerks are mean or spiteful, but like everyone, they don’t like to do extra work for a bunch of random individuals bugging them while they attempt to get their work done. Do you? Every time you have to ask a clerk in the department to schedule a hearing date, approve a date or to argue a rejection, that’s extra work for them and they hate it. So always treat them with respect and be courteous – hello, have a nice day, thank you – it all goes a long way.
Know what you’re filing.
Not every document should be treated the same. A Request for Dismissal may be okay to leave at the window, but a Stipulation and Order might need to go to a specific department. These documents might be similar, but they are not the same. Know where they go. You don’t want to waste your time or the clerk’s time by getting in the wrong line or having your documents sent to the wrong place.
Know the local rules.
Many documents may look the same with very similar sounding titles but that doesn’t mean they are treated the same. Said another way, not all documents are created equal. There may be a specific document that requires having a hearing set by the department clerk before filing or a fee that needs to be paid before being received and filed later. Some courts may require a specific cover page to be filed with all new cases. If you aren’t sure about what’s required, court websites have plenty of information regarding filings. Also, if you need a specific form, they usually have them available on their website or they’re just a simple Google search away.