Does Emailing a Motion Extend the Deadline for Service? Cole v. Superior Court (Zeiner)

By Eric Ganci

Filed 12/30/22

In civil lawsuits, deadlines can make or break a case. It’s a mentality of live by the sword, die by the sword. …and I guess I should explain the sword in this scenario is deadlines.

In civil law, “service” can be done in several ways: by mail (regular snail mail or certified), by courier or hand-delivered. But you can also serve motions by electronic ways: email or fax (I think I remember what a fax machine is…that thing from the 80s, yes?).

In this Cole v. Superior Court (Zeiner)* 2022 filed decision, the service dealt with filing a motion for a motion for summary judgment (MSJ). Here, the party filing the motion filed it on the exact deadline to file the motion, including the extra days the California Code of Civil Procedure adds for email service. Specifically, CCP 1010.6 extends the day to serve papers by 2 Court days. This code section says: if papers are served by email “’[a]ny period of notice … which time period or date is prescribed by statute or rule of court, shall be extended after service by electronic means by two court days.’”

For this case, the party filing the papers filed them timely. The Court says “Accordingly, their motion filed on October 5 was timely, but with no time to spare.”

This case does not change any laws. But rather the Court says this: “We also publish our decision to provide guidance on the deadline for filing a summary judgment motion that is served electronically.” So, caring is sharing.

This was also one of the first opinions drafted by newly appointed Associate Justice Martin Buchanan.

*Cole v. Superior Court (Zeiner) (2002), 303 Cal.Rptr.3d 296.