This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.
Payment of Court Fees Via the Internet Grows in Popularity
Lawyers who practice in a growing number of federal trial courts are enjoying
the option of paying various court fees by credit card on-line.
they see this as a big time saver to their staffs. Those who have participated
are very reluctant to pay any other way now,” said Clyde Anderson, financial
administrator and project manager for the U.S. District Court for the District
of Idaho, where credit card payments began last January.
district courts accept credit card payments for a variety of fees—for opening a
case, filing a notice of appeal, motion filings, and attorney admission—in civil
cases. From April through June of this year, those 21 courts collected $514,152
in fees paid online.
That’s an increase from the previous three months,
when 13 district courts collected $403,293 in such payments.
more attorneys are using it because they find paying online a lot easier than
having to run to the courthouse every time they need to make a transaction that
requires a fee,” said Chief Deputy Clerk Paige Wymore-Wynn in the U.S. District
Court for the Western District of Missouri, where credit card payments began in
Another 21 courts have completed the logistical work needed to
offer the remote fee-paying option, and 18 more are either in that process, or
plan to start it.
Implementation is divided into two phases. The first
includes creating the necessary accounts with Bank of America and Pay.gov, a
project within the U.S. Treasury Department. The second phase requires
integrating Pay.gov with the Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF)
system and a court’s fee-collection process.
“We had a smooth transition
because we are a consolidated court, and we already were using credit card
payments in the bankruptcy court,” explained Financial Administrator Sharon
Dover of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of
Bankruptcy courts are ahead of the district courts in
implementing fee payments by credit card. In the first three months of 2006, 77
bankruptcy courts collected $33.8 million in credit card payments from 148,940
For courts, credit card payments reduce the number of
checks returned for insufficient funds. CM/ECF will prevent electronic filing if
a credit card is declined.
Credit card payments offer lawyers the same
benefits as electronic filing: Time is saved by not having to use runners to
deliver cash or checks to the courthouse, and by the ability to file and pay
court-specified fees 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Schoenstadt, project manager in the U.S. District Court for the District of New
Jersey, said no additional staffing was needed when the remote-payment
initiative began last spring. “It was a fairly easy and painless process,” she
said. “Attorneys were using it the first day we opened it up for ‘live’
Wymore-Wynn said her court did not spend time or money in training
lawyers about the new option. “Most of them know how to shop on the Internet, so
this is not new to them,” she explained.