• Justin Hein

California Courts Permit Electronic Signatures on Documents

Documents filed in court do not require wet signatures. They do not even require photocopied signatures. Nor do they even require a digital impression or reproduction of signatures.

So long as the document is filed electronically with the court, all the document requires is an "electronic signature," defined as "an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with an electronic record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign a document or record created, generated, sent, communicated, received, or stored by electronic means." (Cal. Rules of Ct., Rule 2.257(a).)

If an electronically filed document requires a signature under penalty of perjury, the document is considered signed by the declarant if:

  • The electronic filer signs a printed form of the document before it is electronically filed (Code Civ. Proc., § 1010.6(b)(2)(B)(i); Cal. Rules of Ct., Rule 2.257(b)(2)); or

  • The electronic filer signs the document using an electronic signature and declares under penalty of perjury that the information submitted is true and correct (Code Civ. Proc., § 1010.6(b)(2)(B)(ii)).

It is always best practices to provide some indica of signature on an electronically filed document filed under penalty of perjury, even though the above two options are available. That is because if nothing is present on the electronically filed document, the declarant is certifying that he or she signed a printed form of the document before it was electronically filed. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1010.6(b)(2)(B)(i); Cal. Rules of Ct., Rule 2.257(b)(2).) And the declarant must maintain the printed document with the original signature until final disposition of the case (as defined by Gov. Code, §68151(c)). The court or any other party may request production of the signed original. And the party on whom the demand is made must make the signed original available for inspection and copying by all other parties within 5 days after service of the demand. (Cal. Rules of Ct., Rule 2.257(b)(2)(B).

Please note that the above does not apply in matters before the Courts of Appeal or Supreme Court of California. Rather, California Rules of Court, Rule 8.75 controls, and it only permits a combination of the two: both an electronic signature on the document and a pre-signed wet copy of the document.

A document that does not require a signature under penalty of perjury is considered signed by the party who filed the document electronically. (Code Civ. Proc., §1010.6(b)(2)(A); Cal. Rules of Ct., Rule 2.257(c).)

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