|Can the general public view CM/ECF cases and the documents in those cases?
Yes, the public can access case data in CM/ECF unless it has been sealed by the court. The public access component of CM/ECF will require a user to enter a PACER login and password. Because the PACER login and CM/ECF filing login will be different, a filing attorney will need both. Established PACER users will automatically have access to these sites; a new account does not need to be created. For those currently not registered with PACER, a PACER account may be obtained at: http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/register.html
|Can any member of the public use CM/ECF to file documents with the court?
Access to the filing portion of CM/ECF is available to authorized users only. Authorization and training of users is provided by the practicing CM/ECF court. Check with the individual court for details on filing privileges.
|How does an attorney become an authorized CM/ECF user?
In order for an attorney to be authorized to file documents electronically and to receive e-mail notices of documents that are filed, he/she must be admitted to practice and be registered to file electronically within the specific court providing the CM/ECF system. Each court will have its own requirements and procedures for registering. Upon registration with the court, attorneys will be provided with an identification name and password that will allow access for the filing aspect of the system. Attorneys will also need to register with the PACER Service Center to obtain a login and password for the querying component of the system.
Visit http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/announcements/general/ecfnews.html for a complete list of the courts that offer CM/ECF and to learn more about their systems, including filing requirements and procedures, manuals, and other pertinent information.
|What are the rules and procedures regarding filing electronically?
If permitted, each court will have its own requirements for filing electronically.
|What type of training will be available?
Contact your local court to see what training sessions may be offered. Most courts offering CM/ECF access will provide an on-line tutorial, training database, FAQs, and a user manual. If a training database is provided, participants should use it to practice filing before filing a document in the "live" database.
|My firm already has a PACER login and password. Do I need to establish a separate PACER account, or can I use the firm account?
The firm PACER account can be used for the query component of CM/ECF. However, if you would like to keep the billing separate from the firm's, you will need to establish a new PACER account. A PACER account may be obtained at: http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/register.html
|I am changing firms. Do I need to establish a new e-filing login and password?
You do not need to register for CM/ECF more than once. Even if you change firms, your login remains valid. However, you must update your address and e-mail information in the "Utilities" option of the CM/ECF. It will also be necessary to establish a new PACER login and password. A PACER account may be obtained at: http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/register.html
|How do I change my address with the Court?
In CM/ECF, click on "Utilities", "Maintain Your CM/ECF account." You can change your address, phone, email preferences, login and password on these screens. Local rules at each court may require that you continue to send a paper notice of any address changes as well.
Change the billing address for PACER in the Account Information section of this web site.
|How do I change my CM/ECF password?
Change your PACER password in the
Account Information section
of this web site.
- Once logged in, go to "Utilities" on the dark blue tool bar.
- Click on "Maintain Your Account" in the "Your Account" section.
- Click on the "More User Information" button at the bottom of the screen.
- Highlight the row of asterisks in the password box and type your new password in their place.
- Click on "Return to Account screen" at the bottom of the page.
- Click on "Submit" at the bottom of the page.
|Why do I get a second login screen after I've already logged into
This login prompt is requesting your PACER login and password, which is required whenever you request a report or document from a case. In order to bypass this login prompt in the future, click the box that says ‘make this my default login' after entering the PACER login and password. Your CM/ECF login and password will still need to be entered each time the ECF site is visited.
|Why am I getting an invalid login message?
Look for a few of these common problems:
- Both the login and password should be entered in lower case letters.
- Make sure the proper login and password are being used for the proper database. (PACER login for querying; CM/ECF login for filing)
- Check the location of the web site in the location window of Netscape. The training database is located at: https://ecf-train.COURT.uscourts.gov while the live database is at: https://ecf.COURT.uscourts.gov (without the train) where COURT is the code for the particular court.
- Netscape needs to be set to accept all cookies.
|Why do I get an invalid login message once I have already logged into the court and I am retrieving a docket or document?
- Verify that the recommended browser is being used (Netscape Navigator version 4.6 or 4.7, and IE 5.5 were the only browsers tested).
- Make sure to set you PC to accept all cookies.
If the problem persists, delete your existing cookie files. Cookies are stored within the Program Files of your computer. Once in Program Files, go into the browser folder. Within one of the folders will be a cookie file. To delete the cookie file, right click on the icon and select delete.
|Why can I get a docket sheet, but not any of the documents provided?
This may occur if you are using an incompatiable browser. Check your browser setting. Another problem may be that you do not need Acrobat software (ie Adobe Reader) to view a docket sheet, but you do need it to view documents. You might have Acrobat PDF on your machine but have not connected it to browser. The solution for Netscape--open Netscape: Options, General Preferences, and in the dialog box add application/pdf; extension pdf and indicate the path to the Acrobat.exe file.
|What should we do when an attorney leaves the firm?
When an attorney leaves a firm, both the attorney and the firm need to consider the implications to the CM/ECF noticing system. If cases will move with the attorney, all the attorney needs to do is to change his/her e-mail notification set up and submit a change of address to the Clerk's Office. If cases will remain with the firm, the firm will need to ensure that the Court docket accurately reflects the proper attorney of record and that the new attorney of record is properly set up to receive e-mail notification. Law firms may also wish to consider the best method of handling e-mail addressed to the firm for the departed attorney. Summarily removing the attorney from the firm's e-mail system with no further action, may result in notifications being missed. Firms may wish to consider whether their own e-mail systems should forward such e-mails to the attorney at his/her new address, or to another attorney within the firm.
|Can I have the same filing login for all courts I practice in?
Since each court assigns the filing login for filing privileges in the CM/ECF system, it is not possible to obtain a universal filing login. However, some courts allow you to request a particular login and password when you register, so you may be able to use the same filer login for many courts.
|How do I change my default PACER login?
Once you are logged in as a CM/ECF filer, click on ‘Utilities.' In Utilities, click on ‘Change Your PACER Login.' Enter a new PACER login and password. You can change the default PACER login by checking the box ‘Make this my default PACER login.' Once you associate a PACER login and a filer login, there is no way to un-associate the two without making another PACER login the default.
|I am a CJA attorney or bankruptcy trustee and have two PACER accounts (one for CJA/trustee use and one for private work.) Each time I login it automatically uses one of the PACER accounts. What should I do?
CM/ECF allows a filing attorney to permanently associate a PACER login with an ECF filing login. The ECF filing login and PACER login became associated by checking the box "Make this my default PACER login" during a previous session. When they are associated, each time the attorney logs in to file a document the system also logs the attorney in as a PACER customer. This is a problem for those customers that must switch between PACER accounts based on the type of work being performed. If having an ECF filing account associated with a PACER account is a problem for you, contact the court to un-associate your PACER login from your filing login. With the two un-associated, the system will prompt you to enter the appropriate PACER account when querying. Future versions of CM/ECF will allow customers to do this on-line under Utilities. For an immediate solution, you can change your PACER login for the session by clicking on Utilities then select "Change PACER login". Or, click on "Logout" and re-enter the site with the correct PACER login.
|Why am I receiving the message "you do not have permission to view this document"?
Electronic access to Social Security Administration case documents is limited to parties in the case. In addition, documents from criminal cases filed prior to November 1, 2004 are only available electronically to the parties in the case. So when attempting to view either of these document types, the CM/ECF system will display the message "you do not have permission to view this document." If you are an attorney of record or another party in the case, you must enter your ECF filing ID before trying to access these documents. All others interested in these documents should contact the clerk's office for information about viewing copies. Criminal documents filed after November 1, 2004 are available electronically through PACER once a court has upgraded to the correct version of the CM/ECF software.
TECHNICAL - GENERAL WEB ISSUES
|How can I search for a word or phrase on a web page?
Once you select a document to review, you can perform a word search by clicking on EDIT, then clicking on either "Find and Replace," or "Find in Document" (or pressing Ctrl+F), and entering the word(s) you wish to locate in the document. For documents in PDF format (viewable using Adobe Acrobat Reader) search by clicking on "TOOLS," then "FIND" (or Ctrl+F), and proceed the same way. Note, if the PDF document is an image file, as opposed to a text file, searching the document is not possible. As the names imply, a text file is one created in the first instance using a word processing, spreadsheet, or similar program, while an image file is created by scanning a document using a document scanner or fax machine
|What is a "link" or "hyperlink"?
A "link" or "hyperlink" is a shortcut to another website or web page. These are represented by a word or phrase underlined in blue. For example, if you ""CLICK" on one of the items on the "What's New?" section of this website, you will be taken to the item described by the"link".
A plug-in is a small add-on piece of software that extends the capabilities of your web browser, such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Explorer. A plug-in may, for example, enable you to view files written in a format other than HTML, the language used to create Internet web sites, or to listen to audio files or view videos.
|How can I create a shortcut icon on my desk top that will take me directly to the CM/ECF system?
While on the Desktop screen, right click the mouse and then click on "new", followed by "shortcut." The next screen will ask for a command line. For example, to setup a shortcut to the CM/ECF system for a court, type " http://ecf.COURT.uscourts.gov/" in the space and then click "next." Change the name of the shortcut to CM/ECF-Court or some other designation of your choosing and then click on "Finish." COURT is the code for the particular court. For example, New York Southern Bankruptcy would be
TECHNICAL - CM/ECF ISSUES
|What hardware and software will attorneys need to participate in
Attorneys will need the following hardware and software to electronically file, view, and retrieve documents in the electronic filing system.
- A personal computer running a standard platform such as Windows, Windows 95, Windows 98, or Macintosh.
- Software to convert documents from a word processor format to portable document format (PDF). Adobe Acrobat PDF Writer, as well as certain word processing programs can perform this function. Both Acrobat Writer Version 3.X and 4.X meet the CM/ECF filing requirements. The CM/ECF technical staff is currently testing Version 5 to certify its compatibility with the CM/ECF system. For viewing documents, not authoring them, only Adobe Acrobat Reader is needed.
- A PDF-compatible word processor like Macintosh or Windows-based versions of WordPerfect and Word.
- A scanner to transmit documents that are not in your word processing system.
|My machine locks up at the login screen, but other attorneys at my firm don't have that problem—why me?
If you get to the login screen and the system hangs when you try to complete your login, something is blocking the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) port 443 (that's the point where we transition from web port 80 to SSL port 443). The systems person at your firm needs to look at the router and any firewalls the firm has set up to determine where the blocking is taking place. Attorneys at a firm may experience this problem while other attorneys at the same firm do not because they may be directed to different proxy servers.
|Why does my session freeze?
If you find your session freezing after you have hit "SUBMIT", try using the Back button to return to the previous screen and click on SUBMIT again. It may be the case that the session has not really halted; this kind of misbehavior is common to browser-based applications
|Why can I not access a previous page viewed by clicking on the "Back" button on the browser after selecting a link?
Unlike most programs, a web browser will open multiple windows. In other words, two or more windows in which the browser appears may be active at the same time. Look at the tool bar at the bottom of the screen, this is the same bar where the start button is located. If the browser logo appears on two different buttons, you have more than one window open. Click on the button that is not active (not highlighted) to open the previous window. If there is only one window open, click on the "GO" menu item at the very top of the screen; a drop down menu will appear where you can click on the address of the page to which you wish to return.
|Why can I not view a document from an email notifying me that something was filed?
Make sure your email system is set to open links with the Internet Browser. If you get a login screen when you request the document, make sure you enter your PACER login not your filing CM/ECF login id and password. The first time you view the linked document in an email notice, it will be free. Anytime after the first viewing, you will be charged to view the document. The document should be saved to your local hard drive during your first view.
|If I forward an email notification I received to another individual will that individual be charged for viewing the document?
The document within an email notification is accessed by a hyperlink. This hyperlink takes you to a site which will allow the first viewing to be free. The first individual to view the linked document will not be charged. If you forward the email notification without viewing the document, the recipient of the email will be able to view the document for free. Anytime after the first viewing, a charge will be incurred to view the document. The document should be saved to a local hard drive during the first viewing.
|I receive a "Data Missing" error when I try to print reports from
Some users have reported when trying to print large dockets or other reports from the CM/ECF system that they received an error message stating: "Data Missing - This document resulted from a POST operation and has expired from the cache. If you wish you can repost the form data to recreate the document by pressing the reload button." To fix this problem, we recommend increasing the size of your cache dramatically.
|Why won't the "data only" format of the cases report display in
If you are using Internet Explorer and Windows XP with Service Pack 2, you may be having a problem downloading the "data only" format of the cases report. Two options are recommended to work around the problem.
1. Use Netscape. The report downloads correctly using Netscape.
2. Delete the Windows XP registered file type for .txt files. To delete the registered file type in Windows XP, use the following steps:
- Double click "My Computer"
- Go to Tools, Folder options
- Click "File Types"
- Find the "TXT" file type from the list and click on it
- Click Delete
- When the confirmation box is displayed, click Yes
- Click "OK" to close the File Options box
Documents in Portable Document File (PDF) format do not require a copy of the word processing program used to create them in order to be viewed. They can be viewed by anyone with a free viewer such as Acrobat Reader, a product of Adobe Systems, Inc. In addition to its cross platform advantage, a PDF document matches very closely the format of the original document in which the PDF document was created. All of the pleadings in the CM/ECF system are stored in PDF format. To view PDF files, you must have a PDF viewing software such as Acrobat Reader, which you may download free from the Adobe Systems Internet website http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html You will view PDF documents the way they were created, and you may save and print them in that format.
Adobe Acrobat is a commercial software product from Adobe that allows you to view and create documents in PDF (portable document format). Adobe, the inventors of the PDF format, can be found at http://www.adobe.com, where you can find both the free reader version of the software, which can be used to retrieve documents from CM/ECF, and the writer version, which can create documents for posting. There are other brands of commercially available software to create PDF files, and the CM/ECF's only requirement is that filings must be in PDF to be accepted by the CM/ECF system. All documents filed in CM/ECF must be in PDF format. The Federal Judiciary does not endorse any specific software.
|How do I make a PDF document?
There are several ways in which you can get a document from a word processing program into the PDF format.
The newer versions of some common word processors include the ability to publish a document to PDF built right into the word-processing software. In WordPerfect 9 and 10, you can click on File and then "Publish to PDF" to convert your WordPerfect file (.wpd) to PDF. MS-Word (up to version XP) does NOT have this capability).
Adobe, the inventors of the PDF format, can be found at http://www.adobe.com, where you can find both the free reader version of the software, which can be used to retrieve documents from CM/ECF, and the writer version, which can create documents for posting.
When you've installed Acrobat, you can make PDF files right out of your word-processing software simply by "printing" the document, and selecting the "printer" called "Acrobat PDFWriter" from the drop down list of available printers. That process will actually save a file in PDF format, with a ".pdf" file extension, on your hard drive.
There are many other vendors besides Adobe who provide software to create PDF documents. Please note that the Federal Judiciary does not endorse or recommend any specific PDF software. Since there are so many different applications, and we could not depict instructions for all, we have chosen to depict all our instructions with reference to Adobe.
|I tried to scan my document into PDF but a lot of errors appeared.
You are probably trying to scan the document using optical character recognition (OCR)--don't do this. PDF can handle both text and scanned documents. It can also take scanned documents and perform OCR on them, turning the image back into editable text. However, this process has many problems and should not be done before e-filing them. It is permissible to perform OCR on PDF documents after they are in the e-filing system, since any OCR errors will not be placed in the official documents at the court.
|How do you start the Adobe Acrobat Reader program in order to view a PDF document on a website?
Adobe Acrobat Reader is a plugin that the browser will automatically launch when you try to access a document stored in PDF format. If you do not have the Adobe Reader, your computer will show you a set of applications from which to choose a program that will read the file. None of them will work, which is why you must download the Adobe Reader from Adobe Systems' website. To download a free copy of Acrobat Reader, click on http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html
|Is it possible to have the Adobe Acrobat Reader open in a separate window, one not a part of my browser, or, alternatively, if the Adobe Reader opens on my PC as a separate Window, is it possible to make it open within the browser?
The answer to both question is "yes." In Adobe Acrobat or the Adobe Reader, click on "File", then "Preferences", then "General". In the Options section at the bottom of the window labeled "General Preferences," check the box (by clicking on it if it is blank) beside "Web Browser Integration" to make a PDF document open within the browser. Uncheck that box (by clicking on it if it is checked) to cause Acrobat or the Adobe Reader to open in a separate window.
|Is the optimum way of viewing PDF files within the browser or in a separate window?
This is more of a matter of personal preference. Some of the functionality of the Reader is lost when the PDF document is opened in a browser window. However, most of the functions accessible either using the menu or shortcuts when the Reader opens in its own window can be accessed using the various button icons that remain available when the Reader is opened within the browser.
|When I print an image from CM/ECF, the right edge gets cut off.
After you click the print icon, click the ‘shrink to fit' box on the printer setup screen. Once the setting has been changed, it should remain this way for all PDF documents.
|How do I copy a PDF text file to my word processor?
If a PDF document contains text, as opposed to an image, you can select text and do a normal copy and paste. Using the Acrobat Reader, one can select no more than a page at a time.
|Can I use Adobe Acrobat 5.0?
The Administrative Office(AO) of the United States Courts' CM/ECF Development Team extensively tested and evaluated the capabilities and compatibility of the Adobe Acrobat version 5.0 with the CM/ECF service. These test results indicate that court personnel and lawyers can use Version 5 PDF documents without adverse effects to CM/ECF. It should be noted that CM/ECF does not endorse any specific software, just the use of the PDF.
|I am using Adobe Acrobat 5. When I try to view PDF documents in CM/ECF, I see a blank screen. How can I fix this?
In Adobe 5.0 or 6.0, make the following changes:
Go to Edit, Preferences, Options. Uncheck ‘Display PDF in Browser.' Uncheck ‘Allow Fast Web View.'
|I'm trying to docket an event and it tells me that this transaction has already been posted, but I look on the docket and it's not there.
What has probably happened is that you docketed an event for a case, and then clicked on the browser back button a few times to get to a point where you could enter another case number and then docketed another event. By clicking the back button, instead of clicking on ‘Bankruptcy Events' you are keeping the information pulled for the last case you docketed. As long as you click on the menu item instead of clicking on Back you'll be fine - only use the back button to correct a mistake on an event you are in the process of docketing, not to change cases.
|How can I verify whether or not all the documents I filed electronically were posted?
To ensure the documents transmitted arrive in their entirety, it is important to examine the document after it is received by the court. This can be done by viewing the docket sheet for the case and selecting the transmitted document. The number of the transmitted documents appears on your electronic filing receipt.
|When I query a case in CM/ECF, it gives me the previous case I looked at instead.
Check your Cache settings in your browser. The "verify documents" entry should have the ‘once per session' or ‘every time' entry checked, but not the ‘never' entry.
|I tried to file a document but it says "format not recognized"—what am I doing wrong?
All documents must be submitted in Adobe PDF (portable document format) with an extension of ".pdf". Two common errors occur.
First, a user thinks that he/she saved the document in PDF. The user then tries to file the WordPerfect version of the document; not the saved PDF version.
Second, a user fails to indicate the full path name for the PDF file he/she wants to upload. Because the system could not find the file, it responded with the "format not recognized" message. The solution--provide the full path name when identifying the file (example: "c:\documents\motion.pdf") during the upload process.
|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 that offer electronic filing 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. Individual court rules and procedures are generally
available on their Web sites.
|When a user files a pleading with the court, 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) is
automatically generated and e-mailed to the registered parties in the case. The NEF includes the
text of the docket entry, the unique electronic document stamp, a list of the case participants
receiving e-mail notification of the filing, and hyperlink to the document(s) filed. Most
recipients will receive one free look at the document.
|How will signature of documents be handled for documents filed electronically?
At present, this is a matter for local court rule or order. All courts using electronic
filing are currently treating use of an attorney’s unique system login and password as a signature.
Most of the 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