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File a Case Frequently Asked Questions

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

CM/ECF allows:

  • Registered filers to file documents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Attorneys, filers, and organizations to reduce their paper, photocopies, postage, and courier costs.
  • Immediate access to full case information for attorneys, parties, and general public.

A court will post a notice of routine or emergency maintenance on the court's website if CM/ECF is ever unavailable. 

Contact your local court to see what training sessions may be offered. Most courts offering CM/ECF access will provide an online 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.

Review available documentation on using CM/ECF.

For CurrentGen courts, you must register through the court, and the court must approve you as a filer. For NextGen courts, you must register through Manage My Account, and the court must approve you as a filer. You need to register for each court in which you wish to file. 

The following rules authorize individual courts by local rule to permit papers to be filed by electronic means:

  • 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. 

The following rules authorize service of documents by electronic means if parties consent:

  • 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

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. Individual court rules and procedures are generally available on their websites. Use the Court CM/ECF Lookup to find individual court website links.
 

An attorney must be admitted to practice in a specific court and registered to e-file with that same court in order to file court documents electronically and to receive email notices of documents that are filed.

For district and bankruptcy courts: 

Each district/bankruptcy court has its own requirements and procedures for registering. Visit the court's website for more information.

For appellate courts:

Register to become an e-filer in appellate courts and bankruptcy appellate panels. Check the court rules to find out who is permitted. Learn more about the registration procedures.

All attorneys must register for PACER in addition to requesting e-filing privileges in order to fully use the NextGen CM/ECF system.

Find out if your court has transitioned to NextGen.
 

Once your court implements the NextGen CM/ECF system, you will be required to use your PACER account for all courts.

Because each bankruptcy and district court assigns the login for filing credentials in the CurrentGen CM/ECF system, it is not possible to obtain a universal filing login in these court types. 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.
 

Please verify that your username and password are correct

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A nature of suit code is a tool for categorizing the types of cases filed in the federal courts. This code is the basis of all federal caseload statistics produced by the federal Judiciary. Review a list of nature of suit codes (pdf). 

There are a few reasons this issue may be occurring. 

The PDF may be form-fillable and needs to be flattened so that it cannot be edited or altered by other users. To do this: 

  1. Open a fillable form and add the necessary data.  

  1. Click File and select Print. 

  1. Select a PDF printer and click OK or Print.  

  1. In the pop-up window, select where to save the "flattened" version of the form. 

  1. Click Save and file the form in CM/ECF. 

Another issue may be the size of the document. Check if your document is not larger than the maximum file size permitted for that court. In addition, make sure the PDF does not contain marks or logos with links to the site of the company that developed the product, as the court will not accept these files. 

To prevent users from editing your form fields in a fillable PDF, you must "flatten" or lock the form before saving. 

  1. Open a fillable form and add the necessary data.  

  1. Click File and select Print. 

  1. Select a PDF printer and click OK or Print.  

  1. In the pop-up window, select where to save the "flattened" version of the form.  

The document should now be "flattened" and cannot be altered.