A once-important tool for federal litigators that has become obsolete is slated for imminent demise. It’s the 24-hour drop box outside Austin’s U.S. district courthouse at the corner of 8th Street and Lavaca.
The drop box will no longer be used as of Sept. 14, according to the Aug 16 announcement on the Western District of Texas’ website. And Austin’s new U.S. district courthouse, which is scheduled to open later this year, will not have a 24-hour drop box, the announcement notes.
David O’Toole, divisional office manager for the Western District of Texas Clerk’s Office in Austin, says the 24-hour drop box was only accessible to lawyers who were admitted to practice in the district and who had requested a drop-box access card. The drop box used to be a lifesaver for federal litigators who ran up against time deadlines and could not get to the courthouse before the clerk’s office closed at 5:30 p.m., he says.
“It used to be used quite frequently in the days before electronic filing. And it allowed attorneys to drop things until 8 a.m. and still be file marked the previous court day,” O’Toole says.
After the district instituted electronic filing in 2006, the box became used less and frequently until it wasn’t being used at all, he says.
“We haven’t had a single thing dropped in drop box since December of 2011,” O’Toole says.
And unless lawyers are feeling nostalgic, they can toss their white, electronic-strip drop-box cards in the trash, O’Toole says, since they can’t be used to access anything else in the federal courthouse after Sept. 14. And there’s not need to drop the access cards into the drop box. “We have no reason to scoop them up,” O’Toole says.
--- John Council