What’s the Difference Between a Filed Document and an Entered Document?

By Jedidiah McKeehan

The legal profession, perhaps like other professions, has a number of quirks that are unique to it. Some of these quirks I find ridiculous. For example, some attorneys whom I have cases against insist on sending me correspondence by email, fax and regular mail. Is this really necessary? I promise just emailing me is good enough. While we are on that subject, why are we still faxing things?

One of the quirks that can be confusing is how documents that are filed with the court are categorized. Two distinctly different kinds of documents are those documents that are “filed,” and those that are, “entered.”

When a document gets taken to the clerk’s office for filing, for example, a lawsuit related to a car wreck case. That document will be stamped as “filed” by the clerk’s office. A copy of every document that is “filed” stays in the clerk’s office.

However, when there is an order in the case, for example, the judge orders that the person injured in the car wreck is awarded $100,000.00, the judge will have that order written up and that order will be filed with the clerk’s office as well. When that order is first received by the clerk’s office it is marked “filed,” but it becomes “entered” once the judge has signed it and it is refiled with the clerk’s office with the judge’s signature on it.

Sometimes I will have a case where I send in an order to the court for the judge to sign, for example, the couple in a divorce agree that the husband gets his car back. If I call the clerk’s office and ask them, “what’s the status on that order?” They may tell me it has been “filed” but not “entered.” That means that they have received it but the judge has not signed it yet.

Well, that’s no good to me in helping the husband get his car back because until the judge signs the order, the husband is not entitled to anything. What I need is an entered order, because then the judge has specifically ruled, and that ruling is on file, that the husband gets his car back.

So a weird distinction, filed documents versus entered documents. Filed documents are simply documents the clerk’s office has received. Entered documents are those signed by the judge making a ruling and ordering something to be done.

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