Can a complaint be “filed” before the “filing process” is completed? Actually, yes, according to Farley v. Koepp, No. 14-1695, a recent decision from the Seventh Circuit written by Judge Sykes.
Here is the scene: Late on a Friday afternoon (as all these sort of stories begin), an attorney’s assistant emails a complaint to the clerk’s office in the Southern District of Illinois, thus complying with the first step of the local rule. (Filers in that court could not open new cases on CM/ECF on their own at the time.) The clerk responds after 5 p.m., informing the filer that the CM/ECF case file is available for uploading the complaint. On the following Monday, the assistant attempts to upload the complaint electronically, but she fails to do so, reporting that “complications arose concerning the electronic payment of the filing fee.” Regardless of those complications, the last day to file the complaint within the limitations period was Monday (of course, it was), and the district court dismisses the case, ruling that the complaint, filed finally on Tuesday, was untimely.
The Seventh Circuit reversed—and, in the process, provided a bit of a lesson to all those who file complaints electronically.