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CM/ECF FAQs

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  • What is CM/ECF?

    The Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system allows courts to maintain electronic case files and offer electronic filing online, making all case information immediately available.

  • Do I need to register before I can file through appellate CM/ECF?

    Yes. You must register through CM/ECF, and the court must approve you as a filer. You need to register for each circuit in which you wish to file. Click here for more information.

  • What are the benefits and features of using CM/ECF?

    CM/ECF allows:

    • Registered attorneys to file documents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    • Organizations to reduce their paper, photocopies, postage, and courier costs.
    • Immediate access to full case information for attorneys, parties, and the general public.
    • Attorneys to maintain low out-of-pocket costs for participation. 
  • I tried to file a document, but it says "format not recognized." What am I doing wrong?

    You may have either saved the document as something other than a PDF, or you did not provide the full file path name. All documents must be saved and submitted as a PDF, with an extension of ".pdf." In addition, be sure to provide the full path name when identifying the file during the upload process (e.g., C:somedirectorydocumentsmotion.pdf).

  • What courts provide a CM/ECF system?

    CM/ECF is available in most district, bankruptcy, and appellate courts. For a complete list of the CM/ECF courts, visit: http://www.pacer.gov/cmecf/ecfinfo.html.

  • Are there procedural rules relating to electronic filing?

    Rule 5(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 5005(a) of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, Rule 25(a) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, and Rule 49(d) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure authorize individual courts by local rule to permit papers to be filed by electronic means. Amendments to Rules 5(b), 6(e) and 77 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules 45 and 49 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rules 25 and 26 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, and Rules 7005, 9006, 9014 and 9022 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, authorize service of documents by electronic means if parties consent. The amendments do not apply to service of process.

    Most courts have issued an authorizing local rule; most have supplemented the local rule with a general order and/or procedures that set forth the relevant electronic filing practices in that court. Our 6th Amended Order Electronic Case Filing is located HERE.

  • When a user files a pleading, does the system automatically serve the other parties or does the user have to do something extra to serve the others? And do the other parties just get notification of a filing, or do they get the actual document?

    When a document is filed in CM/ECF, a notice of electronic filing (NEF, for district and bankruptcy courts) or notice of docket activity (NDA, for appellate courts) is automatically generated and emailed to the registered parties in the case. The NEF and NDA include the text of the docket entry, the unique electronic document stamp, a list of the case participants receiving email notification of the filing, and a hyperlink to the document(s) filed. Most recipients will receive one free look at the document when they click on the document number link.

  • Can users determine how large a document is before it is accessed in PACER, and before being charged?

    Yes. When a document link is accessed, the next screen will show the number of billable pages and the related cost. To accept the charges, click the View Document button. The PACER cost is $0.10 per page with a cap of $3 per document, except transcripts.

  • How will signature of documents be handled for documents filed electronically?

    Currently, this is a matter for local court rule or order. All courts using electronic filing treat the use of an attorneys unique system login and password as a signature. Most courts require that attorneys retain copies of certain paper documents, such as affidavits or bankruptcy petitions, containing original signatures of third parties, for a set period of time.

  • What is the cost for using CM/ECF?

    There is no additional fee associated with the CM/ECF system.

    Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) is an electronic public access service that costs $0.10 per page. PACER allows users to obtain case and docket information from federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts. The cost to access a single document is capped at $3, the equivalent of 30 pages. The cap does not apply to name searches, reports that are not case-specific, and transcripts of federal court proceedings.

    By Judicial Conference policy, if your usage does not exceed $15 in a quarter, fees are waived.

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