E-Signature Policy for Superior Court


Cowlitz County Superior Court recently implemented the Statewide Odyssey Electronic Court Records System. It should be noted that electronic filing has not been implemented in Cowlitz County at this time. Original documents still need to be filed with the Clerk for scanning into the system. Due to an increase in questions regarding electronic signatures, the Court is issuing the following policy statement regarding the use of electronic signatures in Court filings.

Electronic (digital) signatures are defined under RCW 19.34.030:

"Digital signature" means an electronic signature that is a transformation of a message using an asymmetric cryptosystem such that a person having the initial message and the signer's public key can accurately determine:

(a) Whether the transformation was created using the private key that corresponds to the signer's public key; and

(b) Whether the initial message has been altered since the transformation was made."

The use of digital signatures is governed by Court Rule GR 30.

The filing of a photocopy of an original signature, or a scan of an original signature via email, or copy of an original signed pleading fails to comply with the basic requirements of a digital signature.

GR 17 provides the only currently acceptable way to file at scanned signature as an original in a court file, and to comply, that document must have been sent by FAX. GR 17 does not address whether an emailed signature is acceptable under that rule.

In order to comply with statutory law as well as the court rules, in order to be accepted as an original, a signature must be, in fact, an original signature or filed in compliance with GR 17.

As the Court will no longer see the original document presented for filing, the Clerk is authorized to refuse to file any document in need of an original signature which fails to comply.

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