King County Superior Court Clerk’s $15 “Faulty Document Fee”

The King County Clerk’s Office receives some 8,000 documents for filing daily, amounting to approximately 40,000 pages.  Several years ago, it determined it needed to reduce the physical volume of information it is required to store and instituted a program of:

  • Scanning all documents filed in all cases filed after December 31, 1999,
  • Storing electronically the scanned images, and
  • Disposing of the great majority of scanned documents (not, however, Wills, which are permanently stored intact).

Most documents for cases filed in King County since 2000 are now scanned and available only electronically — on the Electronic Court Record (“ECR“) system through the ECR computers located throughout the Courthouse.

The Clerk’s Office instituted a set of new rules allowing documents to be efficiently scanned and filed.  To encourage compliance with the new rules, it also instituted the assessment of a $15 Extra Handling / Faulty Document Fee for documents not in compliance.  KCC 4.71.100  Common reasons for the $15 assessment in probate cases are as follows:

  • The document lacks:
    • A caption,
    • A case number,
    • An area designation (ie, either SEA or KNT),
    • The signature of a necessary party, or
    • A signature block for the Judge’s signature in the case of an Order.
  • The caption does not match the name shown on the computer for the case.
  • No King County Case Assignment Designation & Case Information Cover Sheet is filed in an initial filing.
  • The document has missing pages.
  • An Order or Bond is not signed by the Judge.
  • A hearing is set for a date or time when the Court is not hearing the type of matters for which the hearing is set (eg, probate matters are generally heard downtown only during the 10:30 AM and 1:30 PM calendars).
  • The form of the document fails to comply with Washington Courts General Rule 14 (“GR14”) requirements:
    • Paper is white, not colored, and “regular,” not “thermofax.”
    • Pages are 8.5 by 11 inches in size (ie, not “legal” size).
    • First page has at least a 3 inch margin at its top.
    • All other sides of first page and all sides of remaining pages have at least a 1 inch margin.
    • Writing is only on one side of page.
    • Writing is “plainly written or printed” and not highlighted or colored.

In general, if you:

  • Attempt to file a noncompliant document with a filing clerk,
  • Drop a noncompliant document in the Clerk’s Dropbox for filing, or
  • Mail a noncompliant document to the Clerk’s Office for filing:
    • It will not be filed,
    • It will be returned to you, and
    • You will be assessed the $15 faulty document fee.

Documents whose noncompliance is solely due to GR14 will be filed but the $15 fee will be assessed.