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Electronic Case Files - CM/ECF
   

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Overview

The District of New Hampshire went live on the case management portion of its Case Management/Electronic Case Filing system (CM/ECF) on November 3, 2003. All document submitted in civil cases commenced on or after June 1, 2004, and in criminal cases commenced on or after January 1, 2005, were required to be electroncially filed using the Electronic Case Filing (ECF) portion of the court's CM/ECF system. On October 1, 2005, all remaining paper cases pending in this court, unless exempted by court order, were converted to electronic cases. Thus, unless exempted by local rule or supplemental rule for ECF, all documents are now filed electronically.

CM/ECF replaced aging software previously used by most courts with a nationally-supported but flexible system that allows courts to customize its own docketing and reporting capability. The electronic case files (ECF) portion allows courts to manage documents electronically to whatever extent they choose, from allowing attorneys to e-file documents and create docket entries over the Internet, to having court staff convert paper documents into electronic form by scanning. It also provides 24-hour access to case files by judges, court staff, and the public in a reliable and secure electronic form. Advantages of CM/ECF include the concurrent availability of complete case files and documents to multiple users, as well as reduced physical storage needs and traffic in the clerk's office. In addition, notices of filings and other case activity are automatically transmitted to case participants via e-mail and documents are instantly accessible via the Internet. Delays and added expenses associated with mail or courier services are in most instances a thing of the past.

The primary method to obtain access to electronic case files through the Internet is through a modified version of the old Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER), called ECF-PACER. This web-based system contains both the dockets (a list of the documents filed in the case) and electronic copies of the actual case file documents. Individuals who seek off-site access to a particular document or case file will need to open a PACER account and obtain a login and password. Logins and passwords from the old PACER system are transferable to the new system. Access through PACER involves a fee of $.10 per page of a case file document or docket viewed, downloaded or printed. PACER users will not be billed for fees of less than $15 in a quarterly billing cycle. Electronic case files are also available for viewing free of charge at our public computer terminals located in the Clerk's Office on the first floor of the Rudman Courthouse.

In addition to maintaining a PACER account, attorneys who are participating in an electronic case will also need a separate ECF login and password. Although they will access the system in the same manner as the general public, their unique password and login will give them access to an array of screens that will allow them to file pleadings and notify all cases participants electronically. To obtain a form for making application to obtain a login and password, click here.

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Registration

ECF Registration

Original Attorney Registation: A person must register with both PACER and ECF in order to file documents electronically. Only an attorney admitted to the Bar of this court, as well as attorneys admitted pro hac vice, may register for ECF. Pro Hac Vice attorneys must wait until their motion is granted before registering. Eligible attorneys can register on-line to obtain an ECF login and password by clicking on this ECF On-Line Registration link.

Original Pro Se Registration: A non-prisoner who is a party to a civil action and who is not represented by an attorney may file a motion to obtain an ECF login and password on a form provided in the clerk's office. The motion must be accompanied by a completed paper ECF Registration form, which is also available in the clerk's office.

Generation of ECF Login and Password: Once an account has been established, the clerk's office will forward your ECF login and password to the email address provided in your registration form. A Filing User who learns that the security of their password has been compromised must immediately notify the clerk's office.

Misplaced or Forgotten Passwords: If you have lost or forgotten your ECF login and password, you can request the CMECF sytem automatically regenerate a new login and password by clicking on this ECF Password Reset link. Again, this new login and password will be sent to you by email.

Credit Card Registration

Effective October 1, 2006, the court implemented an internet credit card payment system in CM/ECF that allows attorneys to pay filing fees over the internet during the filing process. Thus, the court no longer will maintain previously submitted ECF Credit Card Blanket Authorization Forms and those previously submitted forms will be destroyed. For more information regarding the court's internet credit card payment system, please see Internet Fee Payment Instruction Sheet.

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Training

Each district court is responsible for training its own staff and attorney users. The District of New Hampshire offers filing users of CM/ECF interactive computer-based training modules. The modules contained in the District of New Hampshire's Training Materials section exactly replicate the USDC-NH filing system, highlights the rules and procedures governing ECF in this district, and demonstrates how to convert documents to PDF format and how to create hyperlinks to exhibits in electronic filings. The modules in the National CM/ECF Training Materials section offer more general instructions on the use of CM/ECF in the federal courts nationally. All of the modules can be accessed by the public at any time from their home or office.

In addition to the training modules, filing users can also practice filing electronic documents in the District of New Hampshire's Demo ECF Database, which contains the same events and screens seen when filing in the Live ECF Database. Finally, this district has compiled a detailed User Manual, which explains in simple, clear, instructions how to register, log in, and use the ECF system. The District of New Hampshire's ECF User Manual is available in the Reference Materials section located below.


District of New Hampshire Computer-Based Training Materials

  • New Hampshire Computer-Based Training Modules - Interactive training modules that exactly replicate the USDCNH CM/ECF Filing System.

  • New Hampshire Demo Database - A practice database that mirrors the filing options users have in the court's live ECF database. Filers may click on the link and log in using one of the the logins and the password referenced below to practice ECF filing prior to commencing a transaction in a real case in the court's live ECF system.
    • CMECF Demo Database Login: attorney1 through attorney15
    • Password: attorney
    • You may open a new civil or criminal case within which to practice or you may file in any of these previously established cases:
      • Civil: 04-cv-100 through 04-cv-114 or 04-cv-200 through 04-cv-215
      • Criminal: 04-cr-100 through 04-cr-113


National Computer-Based Training Materials

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Reference Materials

  • Executive Summary of Rules and Procedures Governing ECF - PDF format (Acrobat Reader required). This document compiles the relevant federal rules, local rules and supplemental rules for ECF in a topical overview format with citations.
  • Supplemental Rules for ECF - PDF format (Acrobat Reader required). This supplement to the District of New Hampshire's local rules compliments the federal rules of procedure by addressing numerous electronic filing issues.
  • ECF User Manual - PDF format (Acrobat Reader required). This guide will explain in detail, among other things, how to convert documents to PDF format, how to file pleadings in ECF, and how to maintain your own ECF account.
  • CM/ECF Mobile Query - Highlights of an interface that offers a simplified user experience optimized for querying cases in CM/ECF on a mobile device.
  • How Attorneys Can Access Restricted Electronic Documents in Criminal Cases- PDF format (Acrobat Reader required). This document explains how you can properly access restricted documents (such as PSRs and Revocation Reports) in cases in which you are counsel of record that are either sent to your email box (via Notice of Electronic Filing) or available through PACER.
  • How to Electonically File a New Case in ECF - PDF format (Acrobat Reader required). This step-by-step instruction sheet will walk you through the filing process so you can electronically file new actions error free.
  • How Attorneys Can Create Hyperlinks to Exhibits in Memos of Law - PDF format (Acrobat Reader required). Attorneys can create hyperlinks within their memos of law to exhibits they are electronically submitting simultaneously in support of their memo. This is a feature long desired by the judges in this district. This instruction sheet will walk you through the steps to create hyperlinks in your documents.
  • Filing Disclosure Statements and Adding Corporate Parents - PDF format (Acrobat Reader required). The Disclosure Statement event requires the filing attorney to add any listed corporate parents to the CM/ECF database. These instructions will show you the proper procedure for adding corporate parents.
  • How to Properly Attach Exhibits to Pleadings in ECF - PDF format (Acrobat Reader required). This document provides step-by-step instructions on the proper method of attaching exhibits to pleadings in ECF.
  • Paying Filing Fees Using CM/ECF - PDF format (Acrobat Reader required). This document explains how attorneys electronically filing pleadings having a filing fee can use a credit card or ACH debit to make payment using CM/ECF.
  • Procedures for Pro Hac Vice Motions - PDF format (Acrobat Reader required). This instruction sheet explains the rules and procedures governing pro hac vice motions that were necessitated by the limitations of the new internet credit card payment system in CM/ECF.
  • How to File Large Documents and Pleadings Having More Than 20 Exhibits - PDF format (Acrobat Reader required). This document explains how to submit pleadings exceeding 5 megabytes as well as pleadings having more than 20 attachments or exhibits.
  • Attorney ECF On-Line Registration Form - PDF format (Acrobat Reader required). All attorneys seeking to file in ECF must register on-line to obtain a login/password.
  • Electronic Access to Court Transcripts - PDF format (Acrobat Reader required). This document explains the court's policy regarding public access to court transcripts.
  • CM/ECF RSS Feed - PDF format (Acrobat Reader required). This document provides a general overview of the availability of a RSS feed of recent docket entries in CM/ECF.
  • Attorney Events List - PDF format (Acrobat Reader required). All electronically filed documents shall be titled and docketed in accordance with this approved dictionary of civil/criminal events available on ECF.
  • Converting Documents to PDF - PDF format (Acrobat Reader required). All documents filed in ECF must be in PDF format. This document explains how to convert documents from your word processing document to a PDF document.
  • Scanning Tips - PDF format (Acrobat Reader required). Documents that cannot be electronically converted will need to be submitted in a scanned PDF format. This information sheet should provide some assistance and guidelines for scanning.

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Creating an Appendix on Appeal in a Counseled Case

The First Circuit Court of Appeals now has a rule (LR 30.0) governing the form and content of the appendix to an appeal brief in "counseled cases" (i.e. cases in which the appellant is represented by counsel--including in forma pauperis cases). The cost of compiling the appendix is reimbursable in those cases in which appellant's counsel is appointed under the Criminal Justice Act.

You can access the First Circuit's local rules at this link.

You can access an information sheet regarding the impact of the new rule entitled "Notice to Counsel Regarding Contents of Appendix" at this link.

You can access an instruction sheet that explains how to use CM/ECF to create an appendix for your appeal brief at this link.

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Creating Hyperlinks to Exhibits or Attachments to Pleadings

The district's electronic filing rules (AP 2.3(i)) permit filers to create hyperlinks both to legal citations and to exhibits or attachments to pleadings. While the district's rule do not require filers create these hyperlinks, the court encourages you to do so.

Newer versions of CM/ECF permit filers to submit electronic documents that include hyperlinks to a previously filed document in the same case or another case, as well as to documents that are being filed in the same submission, such as exhibits to motions or memos of law. This feature is very helpful to judges in this district because it makes it much easier to review exhibits submitted in support of a pleading. A document can be linked to another document in any federal court's database if the court is running the appropriate version of CM/ECF that includes the hyperlink function: District (Release 3.1); Bankruptcy (Release 3.2) and/or Appellate (available as of July 2006). This hyperlink functionality has been tested in WordPerfect 11 or higher and Word 2002 or higher.

Note that creating hyperlinks to exhibits does not obviate the requirement that each exhibit or attachment to a motion or pleading must also be filed in CM/ECF as a separate attachment to the pleading and individually numbered/lettered as set forth in AP 2.5(a).

For an instruction sheet that will walk you through the steps to create these hyperlinks in either a Word or WordPerfect document, click here.

For interactive computer based training modules that explain how to create hyperlinks to exhibits in both Word and WordPerfect documents, click on the links below (Adobe Flash Required).

Creating Hyperlinks to Simultaneously Filed Exhibits and Other Electronic Documents (Word Users)

Creating Hyperlinks to Simultaneously Filed Exhibits and Other Electronic Documents (WordPerfect Users)

Hyperlinks in Judicial Opinions

Some judicial officers are including in their opinions hyperlinks to pleadings as well as to legal citations. As to the latter, the court accepts no responsibility for, and does not endorse, any product, organization, or content at any hyperlinked site, or at any site to which that site might be linked. The court accepts no responsibility for the availability or functionality of any hyperlink. Thus, the fact that a hyperlink ceases to work or directs the user to some other site does not affect the opinion of the court.

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Requirement to Redact Personal Identifiers

Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 5.2 and Fed. R. Crim. P. 49.1, the parties have an obligation to redact certain "personal identifiers" from both pleadings and court transcripts. The personal identifiers that must be redacted include the following: social security and financial account numbers should include just the last four digits; minors names should be referenced by initials only; a date of birth should include the year of birth only; and in criminal cases any home address should include just the city and state. To review a Notice from the Judicial Conference of the United States urging counsel to exercise caution when filing a pleading containing personal identifiers or other sensitive information, please click here.

Requirement to Redact Personal Identifiers in Pleadings

To address the privacy concerns created by Internet access to court documents, Fed. R. Civ. P. 5.2 and Fed. R. Crim. P. 49.1 require the filing attorney to refrain from including, or to partially redact where inclusion is necessary, the above listed personal identifiers from all filings with the court. Exemptions from these redaction requirements are expressly listed in the rules. Fed. R. Civ. P. 5.2(b); Fed. R. Crim. P. 49.1(b).

Obligation to Review Transcripts for Personal Identifiers

Within twenty-one (21) days after the date on the Notice of Electronic Filing of a Transcript, any party who purchased an original or a copy of the transcript shall:

  • Review the transcript to determine whether it contains any personal identifiers listed in Fed. R. Civ. P. 5.2 or Fed. R. Crim. P. 49.1, whichever is applicable, and
  • Electronically file a Transcript Redaction Request if that party concludes the transcript contains personal identifiers that must be redacted.
AP 4.2 (b). Any party that did not request an original or copy of the transcript may also review the transcript for personal identifiers and may electronically file a Transcript Redaction Request within this same twenty-one (21) day period. Id.

The responsibility for redacting personal identifiers rests solely with counsel and the parties. Id. Neither the court reporter nor court staff are responsible to independently redact information from the case unless there is a redaction request by a party to the case. Id. The parties will be charged no fee for redactions made by a court reporter. Id. If a purchasing party does not timely file a Transcript Redaction Request, no redaction will be made and the original transcript will be publicly available ninety (90) days from the date the original transcript was filed with the court. AP 4.2(d).

If counsel would like to request further redactions, in addition to those personal identifiers listed in the Federal Rules of Procedure, counsel must move the court by filing a separate Motion to Redact Transcript. AP 4.2(c).

Avoid Inadvertent Disclosure of Redacted Material by Using Proper Redaction Techniques

Depending upon the redaction technique used, it is possible that the redacted information may appear to be hidden or blocked in the document but the underlying protected information (metadata still imbedded in the document) may be accessed by technologically sophisticated members of the public. For example, the highlighter function in Adobe creates a black box over the data, but it merely hides the data. While the redacted information is unreadable, the metadata is still imbedded in the document. Anyone can copy the black box, paste it into a word-processing document, and the information under the black box appears.

Fortunately, there are effective means of eliminating this metadata from electronic documents. The simplest method is to omit the information from the original document. For example, a Social Security number can be included as XXX-XX-1234. Commercially-available software also can be used to redact, not just hide, the sensitive information. While the court does not endorse any product, Redax from Appligent is one commercial product widely used by federal agencies. Adobe Acrobat 8.0 Professional is another commercial product having a redaction tool that scrubs the metadata and other information from the document.

In addition to information available on the Internet, the Northern District of California has posted helpful information about redaction on its public website, which can be accessed here.

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System Requirements
You will need the following computer hardware, software, and accounts:

  • A personal computer running a standard platform such as Windows or Macintosh.
  • Portable Document Format (PDF) compatible word processing software for creating pleadings (e.g., Corel WordPerfect, Microsoft Word).
  • Adobe Acrobat 4.0 or higher, which includes both the Acrobat Reader for reading documents in PDF and Acrobat Writer for converting documents into PDF.
  • An Internet Service Provider using point-to-point protocol (PPP) for accessing the Internet and for sending and receiving e-mails. Some type of Broadband, DSL, or T-1 service is highly recommended (minimum access speed of 56K). ECF is designed to work with Internet Explorer and Firefox. Netscape is no longer compatable. Internet Explorer 7.0 (or higher) or Firefox 2.0 (or higher) is recommended. You may also use Safari 3.0 (for MAC users). You must use a browser that supports 128 bit encryption and your browser must be JavaScript-enabled.
  • PACER account with PACER login and password. (ECF login and password if you have permission to file electronically).
  • Document scanner. We would prefer that all documents filed be in electronic format. However, if you need to image a document so you can file it electronically, consult the attached tips that are used in several other CM/ECF courts.
  • If you do not have the required systems, the court will have a public terminal and scanner for persons to use to file documents in ECF.

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Portable Document Format (PDF) Information

All documents submitted through the court's ECF system must be filed in Portable Document Format (PDF). Thus, users will need PDF software to both read these documents, known as PDF reader, and PDF software to create these documents, known as PDF writer or creation software.

PDF Reader Software - Filing Users must install PDF reader software, which is required to open and read PDF documents filed through the ECF system and maintained on the court's docket. PDF reader software may be downloaded at no cost at www.adobe.com.

PDF Writer or Creation Software
– There are two types of PDF creation documents: electronically converted PDF documents and scanned image PDF documents. Unless otherwise specified in the ECF Administrative Procedures or by court order, only electronically converted PDF documents may be filed with the court using the ECF system. Thus, Filing Users must install PDF creation software in order to electronically convert documents created in a word processing system (MS Word, WordPerfect, etc.) into a PDF document.

There are numerous different vendors who provide PDF creation software. The federal judiciary does not endorse or recommend any specific PDF software.

If you have Corel WordPerfect Version 9 or above, your word processing program already has the capability to create PDF documents by clicking on File => Publish to PDF. If you have Microsoft Windows, you can check by clicking on Start => Settings => Printers and review whether you have a PDF printer listed, such as Acrobat Distiller, PDF Writer, PDF995, or any PDF-like listing. Depending on the functionality of these existing systems, however, you may nonetheless want to purchase different PDF creation software.

How to Convert Word Processing Documents to PDF - You must convert all of your documents from their native word processing application to PDF format using PDF creation software before submitting them to the court through the ECF system. Although the court cannot endorse any specific PDF vendor, we have chosen to depict our instructions with reference to Adobe. For instructions on how to convert documents to PDF format, click here.

Assure Your Converted PDF Retained the Desired Pagination/Format
– Depending on the font, headers, the printer selected, and other document characteristics, the pagination and format of a document may change during the conversion process. Thus, you always want to be careful to review converted documents to assure they maintained the desired format before submitting the document through ECF. If the document changed format, you may want to simplify the font or other document characteristics or try a different method of converting to PDF, such as using PDF Distiller rather than PDF Writer or even trying to Publish to PDF if you have WordPerfect 9 through 11. You may also want to try downloading an alternative PDF writer software, such as PDF995, which is a free download located at www.pdf995.com and reattempt conversion. Lastly, you can purchase an annual customer service contract with most vendors to assist you with this process.

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Security Controls
The following is an excerpt from an Administrative Office publication on the issue:

In accordance with the security plan, numerous controls have been built into CM/ECF. The major technical controls are described below.

  • User Identification and Authentication: Only valid users who have log-ins and passwords for CM/ECF can get access to the CM/ECF system. Assignment of CM/ECF accounts for filing is authorized by the individual court. User IDs for CM/ECF public access are maintained by the PACER Service Center.
  • Authorization and Access Controls: Authorization and access controls for the CM/ECF application are in place and monitored by the court or by PACER Service Center personnel. These controls regulate who has access to particular types of information. Moreover, non-court users do not have direct access to the court's internal system.
  • Data Integrity and Validation Controls: Documents filed in CM/ECF are automatically given a unique "digital signature" that can be used to determine whether someone has modified it.
  • Audit Trail Mechanisms: CM/ECF provides many logs and audit trails of access to the system. In addition, the Internet access firewalls have intrusion detection. Mechanisms are also used to detect tampering with the system. The AO has an ongoing program of testing the effectiveness of these security controls.
  • Replication: Each CM/ECF transaction applied on the court's local system is also duplicated (replicated) to a replication server in one of two secure Sprint data centers. This realtime copy of the court's CM/ECF system is usually available as a "backup" if the court's local system fails or becomes inaccessible due to flood, fire or other disaster. Court staff can have immediate read-only access to the replication server, and outside users can be provided with access very quickly (approximately 30 minutes). If problems with the local system are more severe, the court can do a full "fail-over" to the replication system for continued docketing as well as querying. Full fail-over requires that systems staff make some adjustments to the systems, and therefore users cannot effect an immediate change for themselves. The full fail-over can be accomplished in approximately one hour. Replication does not currently support local applications, so calendaring or other local applications are not available while the court is failed-over to the replication server. While replication is one component of the court's disaster recovery plan, it does not protect against all types of failures. To date, there have been many instances where courts used read-only access to the replication server. There have been only three incidents where courts decided to do full fail-overs. Two of those courts were able to avoid the cost of extended system down-time by using the replication server as their primary docketing system. But the third court found that the data corruption that caused its local server to fail also caused its replication to fail. That court had to resort to backup tapes to restore its CM/ECF system.

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Skills
You will need the following skills:
  • Ability to access the Internet and specifically the Court's CM/ECF system.
  • Ability to perform the following functions using an Internet browser:
    • Use the Forward and Back buttons
    • Set up bookmarks
    • Click on check boxes using a mouse
    • Type in text boxes
    • Download files
    • Print documents
    • Set home page addresses
    • Use hyperlinks
  • Ability to read a document in PDF using Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • Ability to convert a word processing document into PDF using Adobe Acrobat Writer (requires the full Adobe Acrobat program).
  • Ability to scan a document into PDF.
  • Ability to utilize an Internet e-mail system to send and receive messages from outside of your office.
  • Ability to attach files to an e-mail message.

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Frequently Asked Questions
  1. CM/ECF Project Background
  2. User Information
  3. Systems Access
  4. Systems Capabilities - Filing
  5. Systems Capabilities - Other
  6. Hardware/Software Requirements
  7. Specifics for Attorneys
CM/ECF Project Background

1. What is the case management/electronic case files project?

ANSWER: CM/ECF is a joint project of the AO and the federal courts to replace the existing case management systems in the federal courts, e.g., ICMS Civil/Criminal, the Appellate Information Management System (AIMS), BANCAP, NIBS, etc., with a new case management system based on current technology, new software, and increased functionality requested by the courts. In addition to providing the courts with updated tools for managing their cases, this new system will enable the courts to maintain electronic case files and offer electronic filing over the Internet.

2. What are the benefits and features of using CM/ECF for courts, attorneys and the public?

ANSWER: There are a number of significant benefits and features for courts, attorneys and the public:

  • Full case information, including the docket and the filed documents, are readily available to judges, chambers staff, and clerk's office personnel simultaneously without having to retrieve case records from the file room. These court users can also access this information at any time from locations other than the courthouse, via the Internet.
  • At the court's option, registered attorneys can file and retrieve court documents 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
  • Attorneys filing over the Internet automatically create docket entries.
  • Attorneys, parties and the general public are able to view case records using the Internet. This includes the ability to view the full text of all filed documents (subject to any limitations the court might impose).
  • Attorneys can receive notices electronically in ECF cases; this eliminates the costs to both the court and attorneys of handling and mailing paper notices. It also greatly speeds delivery and allows easier tracking of case activity.
  • Maintaining files in electronic form reduces physical storage space needs.
  • Since CM/ECF uses Internet standard software, the out of pocket cost of participation for attorneys is typically very low.

3. Do courts have to use the electronic case filing portion of CM/ECF?

ANSWER: No. Courts may choose to use only the case management portion of the new software and continue as a paper only operation. The Electronic Case Filing (ECF) portion is optional. There are multiple ways that courts can use the ECF capabilities. They can scan documents received in paper form or they can permit filing of documents in electronic form. Scanning may be needed as a supplemental process to convert documents that cannot be obtained in electronic form.

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User Information

1. How many users can submit documents at once?

ANSWER: There is no fixed limit. Response time and expanded use will ultimately tell us what the acceptable limit might be. Enhancements to communications capacity is expected to be an ongoing task to ensure that we meet the needs of the users.

2. How many people at a time may view a document? How many people at a time may view the docket?

ANSWER: There are no limitations for either function.

3. Will the creator of the docket entry be identified?

ANSWER: Yes. All entries can be identified by the name of the person that logged in and submitted the entry. Whether and how a person's name appears in a docket entry may be determined by the court (e.g., full name, initials, etc.).

4. Is there a limit to the number of aliases a party may have?

ANSWER: No.

5. How will signature of documents be handled for documents filed electronically?

ANSWER: At present, this is a matter for local court rule or order. Most courts are currently treating use of an attorney's unique system login and password as a signature. Many courts require that attorneys retain copies of critical paper documents, such as affidavits or bankruptcy petitions, containing original signatures of parties for a set period of time.

6. What technical expertise is required?

ANSWER: CM/ECF is easy to learn and requires little technical experience to use. The basic technical skills needed are familiarity with using Windows and a web browser.

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System Access

1. Will there be restrictions on who may file documents on CM/ECF?

ANSWER: Each court determines to whom filing logins and passwords are issued. In this district, attorneys must file documents electronically and non-incarcerated pro se litigants may file electronically if authorized by court order.

2. How is filer identity authenticated?

ANSWER: Authentication is currently completed at login. Each user is required to identify himself or herself by presenting a valid combination of user name and password. Upon doing so, access to the site is granted.

3. Can the general public view ECF cases and the documents in those cases?

ANSWER: Access to view cases and documents in CM/ECF is available to anyone with a PACER login and password. PACER offers convenient electronic access to case file documents, listing of all case parties, reports of case related information, chronologies of events entered in the case record, listing of new cases, judgments or case status, and a calendar of events. However, the public cannot use PACER to view documents filed in Civil Social Security Appeal cases.

To defray the costs of PACER and CM/ECF, the Judicial Conference has set a fee of ten cents per page for electronic court data via the internet, except for calendar information, for which there is no charge. Parties entitled to documents as part of the legal process receive a free electronic copy, although they will be charged for replacement copies, whether in paper or electronic form.

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System Capabilities - Filing

1. How does the system handle the filing of a multi-part motion?

ANSWER: The types of motions that an attorney or court personnel can file are displayed in a drop down window. The user can select one or a list of motions, using the control key and the mouse. The filer should select as many different motions from the list as required to accurately reflect the reliefs sought. CM/ECF then processes each of the motion parts, one at a time, leading the filer through the steps necessary to complete each part. Orders ruling on multi-part pleadings can dispose of each relief separately.

2. 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?

ANSWER: The system is set up so that when a court user or attorney files a document with the court, a notice of electronic filing is generated that includes information about what was filed, the text of the docket entry, the unique document stamp, and a list of case participants that receive email notification of the filing and a list of those that do not. The notice of electronic filing sent to those listed as receiving email notification contains a hyperlink to the document.

For users participating in ECF, receipt of this notice through the court's transmission facilities constitutes "service" by parties as required Fed.R.Civ.P.5(b) and Fed.R.Crim.P.49(b). Other parties who are not registered CM/ECF filers must be served in the traditional manner, with paper documents.

3. Will the system support scanned documents in color?

ANSWER: Yes, the system does support scanned and all other documents in color, however, the size of the color document may be an issue.

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System Capabilities - Other

1. How does CM/ECF handle sealed records? Does it track their content and filing location or merely indicate that a document was placed under seal? Are sealed documents stored in the Informix database? If so, what controls govern who may view them?

ANSWER: CM/ECF currently has control levels for document access that allow the court to control who can access each document. Documents may be restricted in one of two ways: by case, access to all documents in a case may be restricted or by document, access to a particular document in a case may be restricted. Restrictions to viewing a document is by the class of users defined as: no restriction, only users with logins, only users with court logins and case participants with logins, and only court personnel. In this district, documents filed under seal should be filed in paper. Similarly, documents filed in sealed cases should be filed in paper.

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Hardware/Software Requirements

1. What hardware and software will attorneys need to participate in ECF?

  • A personal computer running a standard platform such as Windows or Macintosh.
  • Portable Document Format (PDF) compatible word processing software for creating pleadings (e.g., Corel WordPerfect, Microsoft Word).

  • Adobe Acrobat 4.0 or higher, which includes both the Acrobat Reader for reading documents in PDF and Acrobat Writer for converting documents into PDF.
  • An Internet Service Provider using point-to-point protocol (PPP) for accessing the Internet and for sending and receiving e-mails. Some type of Broadband, DSL or T-1 service is highly recommended as the use of a 56K modem will not allow you to use the full capabilities of the system. ECF is designed to work with Internet Explorer and Firefox. Netscape is no longer compatable. Internet Explorer 7.0 or Firefox 2.0 is recommended. You may also use Safari 3.0 (for MAC users). You must use a browser that supports 128 bit encryption and your browser must be JavaScript-enabled.
  • PACER account with PACER login and password.
  • Document scanner.

2. Is ECF browser specific?

ANSWER: ECF is designed to work with Internet Explorer and Firefox. Netscape is no longer compatable. Internet Explorer 7.0 or Firefox 2.0 is recommended. You may also use Safari 3.0 (for MAC users). You must use a browser that supports 128 bit encryption and your browser must be JavaScript-enabled.

3. Is ECF word processor specific?

ANSWER: No, you may use any word processor that can convert documents to PDF.

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Specifics for Attorneys

1. Can an attorney add new attorneys to the database?

ANSWER: Only court staff with appropriate permissions may add attorneys to the database as system users.

2. What should an attorney or court user do if the document he or she is filing is not listed in the pick list?

ANSWER: Each court maintains its own event dictionary. If a user wishes to file a document that is not listed in the pick list, he or she can contact the person maintaining the dictionary and request that an event be added. It is up to the court to determine whether to add a new docket dictionary event.

3. Is CM/ECF browser specific?

ANSWER: ECF is designed to work with Internet Explorer and Firefox. Netscape is no longer compatable. Internet Explorer 7.0 (or higher) or Firefox 2.0 (or higher) is recommended. You may also use Safari 3.0 (for MAC users). You must use a browser that supports 128 bit encryption and your browser must be JavaScript-enabled.

4. Is CM/ECF word processor specific?

ANSWER: No, you may use any word processor that can convert documents to PDF.

5. Can the general public view CM/ECF cases and the documents in those cases?

ANSWER: Access to view cases and documents in CM/ECF will be available to anyone with a PACER login and password. PACER offers convenient electronic access to case file documents, listing of all case parties, reports of case related information, chronologies of events entered in the case record, listing of new cases. However, the public cannot use PACER to view documents filed in Civil Social Security Appeal cases.

To defray the costs of PACER and CM/ECF, the Judicial Conference has set a fee of ten cents per page for electronic court data via the internet, except for calendar information, for which there is no charge. Parties entitled to documents as part of the legal process receive a free electronic copy, although they will be charged for replacement copies, whether in paper or electronic form.

6. Will someone submitting a long document monopolize the system to the detriment of other users? How long will it take to transmit/receive lengthy documents?

ANSWER: A user submitting a large document to CM/ECF will not interfere with other users' access. The system uses webbed technology which is designed to service large numbers of users simultaneously.

The time it takes to transmit or receive a document primarily depends on the user's Internet Service Provider (ISP), modem speed, and the size of PDF file being transmitted or received. Generally, the larger the file, the longer it will take to load. Our procedural order will limit the size of documents that can be filed. In most instances, however, the size of the document will not be restricted by the electronic filing process.

The CM/ECF system will accept both text and image PDF files. The text PDF file is usually the result of saving a document from a word processor in PDF format using Adobe Acrobat PDFWriter. The image PDF file is usually created by scanning a paper document in PDF format. The text file can be transmitted to the CM/ECF application faster than the image file because it is much smaller in size. While the difference in speed is usually not noticeable in a 1 or 2 page document, the difference can be significant when a document reaches about 20 pages in length.

7. How will signature of documents be handled for documents filed electronically?

ANSWER: The attorney's CMECF login and password shall serve as their signature for purposes of the federal and local rules; the attorney name, however, should be inserted in the PDF document in a "/s/ Insert Attorney's name" format and typed in the space where the signature would otherwise appear. The court's Administrative Procedures for Electronic Case Filing require multiple signature documents and affidavits be submitted in a similar fashion.

8. How are fees paid?

ANSWER: In this district attorneys have the option to file any document having a filing fee either on paper with the required fee or electronically through CM/ECF. Effective October 1, 2006, attorneys electronically filing pleadings having a filing fee must use the internet credit card payment module in CM/ECF to pay the required fee. When electronically filing any pleading having a required fee, the user will be automatically directed through the internet payment process in CM/ECF. For more information regarding the court's internet credit card payment system, please see Internet Fee Payment Instruction Sheet.

9. What happens if a document is filed in error?

ANSWER: If you make a filing error, please immediately contact the ECF Help Desk (1-800-776-0320, ext 8). Depending on the nature of the error, the filer may be required to refile the document.

10. Will official court transcripts be filed electronically?

ANSWER: Effective May 15, 2008, transcripts will be electronically filed in this district. For information regarding the court's policy regarding public access to court transcripts, click here.

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