CM/ECF Frequently Asked Questions


  1. What is CM/ECF?

  2. What are the benefits of CM/ECF?

  3. How secure is CM/ECF?

  4. What do I need to use CM/ECF?

  5. Is it required to become an authorized CM/ECF user in the Southern District of Florida Bankruptcy Court? And how do I register?

  6. If I am an attorney who is a registered user of CM/ECF with full filing privileges in another federal bankruptcy court, do I still need to attend the classroom training in the Southern District of Florida Bankruptcy Court?

  7. What Bankruptcy Rules apply to electronic filing and service?

  8. Can I use my CM/ECF login and password to log into PACER?

  9. Can I have the same CM/ECF login and password for all federal courts?

  10. Can anyone use CM/ECF to file any type of documents with the court?

  11. Do I need to change my CM/ECF login and password if I am changing law firms?

  12. Can my staff use my CM/ECF User Name and Password?

  13. How do I prepare documents prepared for electronic filing?

  14. How will original signatures on documents be handled for documents filed electronically?

  15. What should I do if I need to file a document that was not created on a computer within my office?

  16. Is there a size limitation in CM/ECF for PDF documents? If so, what can I do to ensure I do not exceed the limit?

  17. If my pleading references as an exhibit a previously filed document in the case, should I attach that document?

  18. How are filing fees paid for documents that are filed electronically?

  19. What will happen to my CM/ECF account if I fail to pay required fees in a timely manner?

  20. Are there any documents that I must file conventionally (in paper)?

  21. How are electronic documents served?

  22. Do I have to submit a certificate of service for a document that has been electronically filed?

  23. How do I sign documents?

  24. Are there any documents that must be filed with an imaged original signature?

  25. How will I know if the electronic filing was accepted?

  26. When will I begin receiving Notices of Electronic Filing (NEFs) from CM/ECF?

  27. For what period of time is my CM/ECF NEF "free look" available after a document has been filed?

  28. How do I access a case docket to search for an item?

  29. Can I monitor activity for a case in which I do not wish to file a formal notice of appearance?

  30. How do I obtain a certified copy of a document or a certified copy of the entire case file?

  31. How are proposed orders submitted in CM/ECF?

  32. How are filing errors and technical difficulties addressed?

  33. How do I file a proof of claim?

  34. Can CM/ECF or ECF/PACER be accessed in courtrooms and 341 meeting rooms?

  35. How do I submit copies of items designated for a record on appeal?

  36. How do I obtain copies of court documents filed in cases prior to October 17, 2005?

  37. Can I schedule a hearing myself using CM/ECF?

  38. If I mistakenly filed a document that contained personal identifiers, how do I correct this error so that the information will be redacted?

  39. How do I access a transcript that has been restricted from public viewing?

  40. What is PDF/A?

#1 CM/ECF (Case Management/Electronic Case Files) is a comprehensive Windows based case management system that permits courts to maintain electronic case files and allows electronic filing over the Internet. CM/ECF is used to maintain all pending and closed main cases, adversary proceedings and miscellaneous proceedings pending, filed or reopened. [Note: Documents filed prior to October 17, 2005, will not be converted to electronic imaged format unless ordered by the court. See Local Rule 5005-4(B) for rules regarding access to electronic filing.
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#2 What are the benefits of CM/ECF?
  • Registered users can file documents , access and/or print case dockets and documents 24 hours a day from anywhere Internet access is available.
  • Reduction in paper usage and amount of secured storage space required.
  • Reduction in travel time and costs required to file or access case information from the courthouse or archives at federal records centers since the public, including creditors can access case files from public terminals or through a PACER account.
  • Easy to use and out-of-pocket cost of participation by the public is relatively low because the system uses standard software for accessing the internet.
  • Reduction in the costs of handling and mailing paper notices, and increase in noticing delivery speed for registered users since CM/ECF provides automatic email notice of case activity.
  • Reduction in the need for public inquiries to the clerk's office and U.S. Trustee's office for case information.
  • Additional research features, such as report generation are is easily accessible.
  • Case files and documents can be accessed by multiple users at the same time.
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#3 How secure is CM/ECF?
  • CM/ECF has many security features and has passed an evaluation by the National Security Agency. Access to the system is through a court-issued login and password.

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#4 What do I need to use CM/ECF?
  • A personal computer.
  • Word-processing software.
  • Internet access and a browser.
  • An email address.
  • Scanning equipment.
  • High speed Internet connection via DSL or cable modem.
  • Software to convert documents into a PDF format (it is recommended to avoid "freeware" PDF creation utilities).
  • Credit card or checking account to pay statutory filing fees.
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#5 Is it required to become an authorized CM/ECF user in the Southern District of Florida Bankruptcy Court? And how do I register?
  • There are two types of registered CM/ECF users - those with full filing privileges and those with limited filing privileges. Registration with full filing privileges is required for all trustees and for all attorneys appearing in cases in this district under Local Rules 2090-1(A) and (B)(3), except for government attorneys appearing for those limited purposes under Local Rule 2090-1(B)(1) and those attorneys except under Local Rules 5005-4(B)(5) or (B)(6). In order for you to become a registered CM/ECF user with full filing privileges in this court, you must attend a CM/ECF training class offered by the clerk's office. You must also have a PACER account. See Local Rule 2090-1 and 5005-4.
  • Free instructor-led classroom training is available for attorneys who are eligible to become registered users with full filing privileges and a designated number of their staff may also attend. Additionally, this training course has been approved for 5 CLE credits by The Florida Bar, which can be applied to the CLE credit hour requirements set forth in Local Rule 2090-1(A)(3). Visit this court's CM/ECF web site for additional information. Requests to receive formal classroom training should be submitted via email to: CMECF_Support@flsb.uscourts.gov.
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#6 If I am an attorney who is a registered user of CM/ECF with full filing privileges in another federal bankruptcy court, do I still need to attend the classroom training in the Southern District of Florida Bankruptcy Court?
  • No. Attorneys who have been certified as registered users of CM/ECF with full filing privileges in another federal bankruptcy court may become e-filers in this district upon the successful completion of a proficiency exercise in the court's CM/ECF Training Database. Requests for a proficiency exercise and training login and password should be submitted via e-mail to: CMECF_Support@flsb.uscourts.gov. Upon successful completion of a "Proof of Proficiency" exercises and receipt of a signed "Acknowledgment of Responsibility" registration form, a login and password to the live database will be issued. See also Local Rule 2090-1(B).
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#7 What Bankruptcy Rules apply to electronic filing and service?
  • Electronic Filing:
      The federal rules provide that "[a] court may by local rule permit papers to be filed, signed or verified by electronic means . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 5(e), Fed. R. Crim. P. 49(d), Fed. R. App. P. 25(a)(2)(D), Fed. R. Bankr.P.5005, 7005, 8008. Local Rule 5005-4(A) provides authority for electronic filing in this court.

  • Electronic Service:
      The federal rules also authorize parties to serve documents (other than certain case-initiating documents) electronically upon written consent of the party to be served. Fed.R. Civ. P. 5(b), Fed. R. Crim. P. 49(b), Fed. R. App. P. 25(c)(1)(D), Fed. R. Bankr.P. 7005, 9014. Courts may also serve court notices electronically upon written consent. Fed.R. Civ .P. 77, Fed. R. Crim. P. 49(c), Fed. R. App. P.45, Fed. R. Bankr. P. 9022. Local Rules 9036-1 and 9076-1 address electronic service in this court. Local Rule 9076-1(A) does not waive the right to service by personal service or first class mail of a summons and complaint under Bankruptcy Rule 7004, thus service of process by electronic means is not authorized.

      Under Bankruptcy Rule 9006(f), parties are given an additional three days to respond after service of a notice or other paper served electronically under Fed.RCiv.P. 5(b)(2)(D), as made applicable by Bankruptcy Rule 7005. However, see Local Rule 4001-1(C), which states that Bankruptcy Rules 9006(f) does not apply to the 14 day deadline for filing a response to a request for relief on negative notice after service of the motion.

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#8 Can I use my CM/ECF login and password to log into PACER?
  • Yes. The systems require different logins/passwords. A CM/ECF login and password issued by this court is required for attorneys to electronically file documents. To obtain access to the district court's CM/ECF system, visit: http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov. A PACER login ID is required for querying cases. You cannot use your PACER login to file documents in CM/ECF. Contact the PACER Center at 1-800-676-6856 or http://www.pacer.psc.uscourts.gov for assistance or to request a PACER login and password.
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#9 Can I have the same CM/ECF login and password for all federal courts?
  • Because each bankruptcy court assigns each attorney their own unique user name and password into the CM/ECF system, it is not possible to obtain a universal filing login. However, in Florida, the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts for the Northern, Middle and Southern Districts of Florida have collaborated to develop a new, easy to remember login structure that will allow users to have the same login and password for all three courts. This is a voluntary option for attorneys registered to practice in two or more of the Florida Bankruptcy Courts. To facilitate this new option, each Florida Bankruptcy Court has posted a link on their CM/ECF web page to a Universal Login Request Form. Since this is a collaborative effort, we ask that you submit your request to the court where you file the most frequently. (Note: A bankruptcy court CM/ECF login cannot be used to access the district court's CM/ECF system).
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#10 Can anyone use CM/ECF to file any type of documents with the court?
  • Access to the full filing portion of CM/ECF is only available to authorized attorneys admitted to the Southern District of Florida Bar and who are qualified to practice before this court. However, creditors without attorneys may become registered users with "limited" creditor filing privileges permitting them to electronically file certain notices and other documents. See Local Rule 5005-4(B)(3). In addition, any claimant or the claimant's agent may utilize the feature available on the court website for electronic submission of a proof of claim form, which does not require registration in CM/ECF. See Local Rules 3001-1(A)(1).
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#11 Do I need to change my CM/ECF login and password if I am changing law firms?
  • No. Since CM/ECF efiling accounts are issued to individuals (not firms), registered users seeking to change a U.S. Mail address must file a notice of change of address in each case or proceeding in which the change is to be effected. In addition, an email notifying the clerk of U.S. Mail and/or email address changes must be sent to CMECF_Support@flsb.uscourts.gov. See Local Rule 2002-1(G).
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#12 Can my staff use my CM/ECF User Name and Password?
  • Yes, but as the registered attorney, your name will appear as the signatory of the electronically filed document and all certification responsibilities remain with you, the attorney of record. See Local Rule 9011-4(A)(2). However, in accordance with Local Rule 9011-4(A)(2)(b), an attorney shall not share an assigned CM/ECF login and password with another attorney for the purpose of having documents filed. The typewritten name of the filing registered user must appear on the document and match the login name of that registered user's ECF account.
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#13 How do I prepare documents prepared for electronic filing?
  • Except for uploading a creditor mailing matrix, ALL documents filed in CM/ECF must first be converted to PDF format. PDF is a standard format that will allow other system users to view the documents in their original format regardless of the type of computer or word processing program that was used to originally create document.
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#14 How will original signatures on documents be handled for documents filed electronically?
  • Documents that are electronically filed and require original signatures other than that of the registered user must be maintained in paper form at least five years from the date of discharge of the debtor, dismissal of the case or final resolution of all appeals pending in the case, whichever is later. See Local Rules 5005-4(C) and 9011-4(C).
  • If a petition is being filed electronically, it must be accompanied by the Local Form "Declaration Under Penalty of Perjury to Accompany Petitions, Schedules, Filing Fee Applications and Statements Filed Electronically," and must contain the imaged signature of the debtor. See Local Rule 1002-1(4); See also Local Rule 1007-1(D) and 9011-4(C). The registered user must type or print the signer's name either above or below the signature line on the electronic document. The typed or printed names are the registered user's representation that the document was signed in original by that party, regardless of whether or not /s/, /s, or s/ is added near the typed name. If the document contains a scanned image of a signature, the typed name must appear under the signature.
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#15 What should I do if I need to file a document that was not created on a computer within my office?
  • The court seeks to have as many documents as possible filed electronically, but recognizes that some documents may not be available in electronic format. Nevertheless, many of these documents can be easily scanned for electronic filing. Documents that cannot reasonably be scanned, such as certain exhibits, will be filed and served in the traditional manner.
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#16 Is there a size limitation in CM/ECF for PDF documents? If so, what can I do to ensure I do not exceed the limit?
  • Yes. The current size limitation that CM/ECF allows for electronically filed documents, including exhibits or attachments, is 5 megabytes. While this limit will not likely affect electronically created documents, in the case of imaged documents, it would be the equivalent of approximately 75 pages. Larger documents must be divided into smaller PDF files. For example, a seven megabyte PDF file could be divided into one 5 megabyte and one 2 megabyte file. The CM/ECF software will display a message if any PDF exceeds the maximum size of 5MB.
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#17 If my pleading references as an exhibit a previously filed document in the case, should I attach that document?
  • No. Pursuant to Local Rule 9004-1(D), do not attach to the document being filed, any document that has already been filed with the court. Instead, simply reference the previously filed document by the title of the document, docket entry number, and/or claim register number.
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#18 How are filing fees paid for documents that are filed electronically?
  • The registered user is required to pay bankruptcy filing fees for cases, proceedings and other documents using the CM/ECF online credit card payment module. Upon the successful processing of any payment, the filer will automatically receive an electronic confirmation receipt and the payment will also be recorded into the case record. See Local Rule 5081-1(B). Filing fees paid in error will ONLY be refunded upon motion and order of the court except when a filing fee is an unintended duplicate payment caused by an error in the court's CM/ECF system or Internet credit card program. See Local Rule 5081-1(D).
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#19 What will happen to my CM/ECF account if I fail to pay required fees in a timely manner?
  • The registered user must pay ALL filing fees for CM/ECF transactions on the date the document(s) is filed. Failure to pay outstanding filing fees will cause the registered user's electronic filing privileges to be suspended and the matter being brought to the attention of the assigned judge who, without further notice or hearing, may impose sanctions as provided by Local Rule 1001-1(D), including dismissal of the case(s) or, if applicable, striking of the document(s). See Local Rule 5081-1(B).
#20 Are there any documents that I must file conventionally (in paper)?
  • Currently, only those items submitted for sealing and/or in camera review, are required to be filed conventionally. See Local Rule 5003-1(D).
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#21 How are electronic documents served?
  • Registered users (1) waive the right to receive notice by first class mail and consent to receive notice electronically via the CM/ECF generated NEF; and (2) waive the right to service by personal service or first class mail and consent to electronic service via the NEF, except with regard to service of a summons and complaint under Bankruptcy Rule 7004. Waiver of service and notice by first class mail applies to notice of the entry of an order or judgment under Bankruptcy Rule 9022.
  • If a petition is being filed electronically, it must be accompanied by the Local Form "Declaration Under Penalty of Perjury to Accompany Petitions, Schedules, Filing Fee Applications and Statements Filed Electronically," and must contain the imaged signature of the debtor. See Local Rule 1002-1(4); See also Local Rule 1007-1(D) and 9011-4(C). The registered user must type or print the signer's name either above or below the signature line on the electronic document. The typed or printed names are the registered user's representation that the document was signed in original by that party, regardless of whether or not /s/, /s, or s/ is added near the typed name. If the document contains a scanned image of a signature, the typed name must appear under the signature.
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#22 Do I have to submit a certificate of service for a document that has been electronically filed?
  • Yes. A Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) is not a substitute for the filing of a separate certificate of service but may be incorporated by reference in the certificate of service for the purpose of identifying those parties who were served electronically, even if, by such incorporation, the result is inclusion in the certificate of service of some case participants who received electronic service but were not required to be served. See Local Rule 2002-2(F).
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#23 How do I sign documents?
  • The clerk will assign a unique login and password to each registered user which is that registered user's signature on electronic documents for all purposes, including those under Bankruptcy Rule 9011, 28 USC § 1746, and this court's local rules. A registered user's electronic signature will have the same force and effect as if the user signed a paper copy of the document being filed. If the user's login and password is used without authorization, the registered user will be responsible for such use and, in the event of unauthorized use, must notify the clerk and immediately take the necessary steps to deactivate access. Docket entries will reflect the name of the registered user who submitted the document via the Internet. See Local Rule 5005-4(D).
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#24 Are there any documents that must be filed with an imaged original signature?
  • Yes. The Local Form "Declaration Under Penalty of Perjury to Accompany Petitions, Schedules, Filing Fee Applications and Statements Filed Electronically" [Declaration] and Chapter 13 Wage Deduction Orders must contain imaged original signatures. See Local Rules 1002-1(4), 1007-1(D),(E)(F),1009-1, 3070-1(D) and 9011-4 (C).
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#25 How will I know if the electronic filing was accepted?
  • A Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) will display at the end of the filing process and will be sent via email to all CM/ECF registered case participants. This page will reflect: party filer, date and time document was filed, active hyperlink to the filed document along with the associated docket text, and list of CM/ECF registered case participants who received the document electronically.
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#26 When will I begin receiving Notices of Electronic Filing (NEFs) from CM/ECF?
  • Immediately upon becoming a CM/ECF registered user with this court, the user will begin receiving NEFs, provided the user has filed a notice of appearance or other document (except a proof of claim or ballot) in the case.
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#27 For what period of time is my CM/ECF NEF "free look" available after a document has been filed?
  • For each CM/ECF registered case participant and any secondary email recipients listed under the registered user's efiling account, one "free look" of the electronically filed document is available. The "free look" will be available until such time as the document has already been viewed via the active hyperlink contained in the NEF, or 15 days after receipt of the NEF, whichever is earlier. Thereafter, the user will be prompted to enter a PACER login and will be charged to view the document. All users are encouraged to print and/or save the document during the initial viewing period in order to avoid future charges.
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#28 How do I access a case docket to search for an item?
  • Log in to CM/ECF and select the "Reports" link from the blue menu bar. A sub-menu will appear with a link to "Docket Report." Selecting the "Docket Report" menu option will prompt the user to enter a PACER login and password. After successfully logging into PACER, numerous search option filters will be available to help streamline your search results.
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#29 Can I monitor activity for a case in which I do not wish to file a formal notice of appearance?
  • CM/ECF contains functionality that will allow a registered user to monitor case activity without filing a formal appearance in the case. Once you log in to CM/ECF, select "Utilities," then select "Maintain Your ECF Account." Select "Email Information…," then place a checkmark in the box "Send notices in these additional cases" and enter the desired case number(s).
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#30 How do I obtain a certified copy of a document or a certified copy of the entire case file?
  • Certified or exemplified copies of documents can ONLY be requested from the clerk's office. The fee for copying and certifying is provided in the Judicial Conference Bankruptcy Court Miscellaneous Fee Schedule, posted on the court's website. Because certification is intended to authenticate that a document is the official document and not an altered version, persons who presently require certified documents (e.g., sheriffs, banks, other courts who have access to PACER) may opt to view the documents directly by accessing the court's database, instead of requiring paper certified copies. This will eliminate the possibility of the presentation of fraudulent documents.
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#31 How are proposed orders submitted in CM/ECF?
  • Unless otherwise directed by the court or by the local Rules, requests for relief which may be considered immediately by the court without opportunity for objection or hearing must be accompanied by proposed order submitted in accordance with the "Guidelines for Preparing, Submitting, and Serving Orders". The proponent and any opponent of any requested relief set for hearing on an emergency basis shall bring to the hearing a proposed order granting or denying the relief requested. Otherwise, the proposed order shall be uploaded in electronic format using the E-orders program in CM/ECF. See Local Rule 5005-1(G).
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#32 How are filing errors and technical difficulties addressed?
  • Deletions of electronic docket entries and/or restrictions of PDF images are permitted ONLY with leave of the court. The clerk will review documents filed electronically and, when appropriate, will issue a notice of electronic filing deficiency under Local Rule 5005-1(C), which will notify the e-filer what corrective action, if any, is required.
  • Parties are strongly encouraged to file documents electronically during normal business hours, in case a technical problem is encountered. If a party is unable to file electronically as a result of a technical difficulty with the court's system, the party must contact the clerk's office CM/ECF Help Desk at the telephone number posted on the court's website during normal business hours. If required to meet a filing deadline, a registered user is permitted to conventionally file a paper documents only when the CM/ECF system is inaccessible or the registered user's computer system is inoperable. A registered user whose filing is made untimely as the result of a technical failure may seek, or the court on its own motion may grant, appropriate relief. No filing deadline shall be deemed to be extended due to technical problems except by court order. See Local Rule 5005-4(G). For information regarding electronic overpayment of fees and credit card payment errors, see Local Rule 5081-1(D).
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#33 How do I file a proof of claim?
  • Proofs of claim may be filed, transferred, assigned and withdrawn electronically by registered users. Non registered CM/ECF users may use the electronic claim form on the court website to file a claim. Claims that are filed on paper will be imaged by clerk's office staff. See Local Rule 3001-1(Although the filing of a proof of claim electronically will generate a Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF), this filing shall not constitute an electronic appearance by the claims filer for purposes of being added to the case to receive NEFs for subsequently filed documents. A separate notice of appearance must be filed by that creditor if desired. See Local Rule 9036-1(A).
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#34 Can CM/ECF or ECF/PACER be accessed in courtrooms and 341 meeting rooms?
  • PACER access terminals are available for viewing documents only, in all seven courtrooms and in all three clerk's office public intake locations free of charge. However, the clerk's office does not provide PACER access in 341 meeting rooms.
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#35 How do I submit copies of items designated for a record on appeal?
  • Unless ordered otherwise, the clerk's office will electronically collate the appeal record from the documents identified in the appeal designation. Upon the expiration of applicable deadlines, the appeal record will be electronically transmitted to the clerk of the district court.
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#36 How do I obtain copies of court documents filed in cases prior to October 17, 2005?
  • Copies of paper court documents in pending or recently closed cases filed prior to October 17, 2005, may be obtained from the clerk's office at a cost of $0.50 per page. Paper case files are normally located in the clerk's divisional office where the assigned judge is chambered.
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#37 Can I schedule a hearing myself using CM/ECF?
  • The court permits the standing chapter 13 trustees and attorneys appearing on behalf of parties in chapter 13 cases to utilize a self-calendaring procedure for chapter 13 non-emergency matters. This procedure will allow attorneys to select available dates and times from the assigned judge's chapter 13 motion/confirmation calendar. The judges' chapter 13 motion/confirmation hearing dates and times have been programmed into the CM/ECF system and will display as selectable options when electronically filing a motion and/or other document for which the relief is requested. This filing functionality will also generate a Notice of Hearing form that will be populated with the selected hearing information. The movant will be required to serve the motion and notice of hearing on affected parties, and file with the court within two business days after service, a certificate of service substantially conforming to the Local Form "Certificate of Service." See Local Rules 9073-1(B) and 2002-1(F).
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#38 If I mistakenly filed a document that contained personal identifiers, how do I correct this error so that the information will be redacted?
  • Bankruptcy Rule 9037(a) establishes privacy protection for filings made with the court. If a party files a document containing information that should be restricted from public access (e.g., social security number, financial account number, date of birth, minor's name), the party shall file an ex parte motion requesting an order directing the clerk to restrict the unredacted document with leave to file an amended redacted document, and shall simultaneously file the redacted document with the court. The party shall also submit a proposed order granting the motion. The clerk may restrict public access to the originally filed document pending entry of an order granting the ex parte motion. If the case has been closed, the movant shall file a motion to reopen the case for a limited time solely for the purpose of filing the redacted document after which the case will be re?closed. The movant shall pay the required fee. See Local Rule 5005-1(A)(3).
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#39 How do I access a transcript that has been restricted from public viewing?
  • For a period of 90 days from the filing of the transcript electronic access via PACER will not be permitted. However, a copy of the transcript may be obtained from the court reporter at the rate established by the Judicial Conference of the United States. Additionally, the transcript will always be available for viewing only, free of charge, at any public terminal located in any of the three divisional clerk's offices.
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#40 What is PDF/A?
  • The Judiciary is planning to change the technical standard for filing documents in the Case Management and Electronic Case Filing (CM/ECF) system from PDF to PDF/A. PDF/A is an International Standards Organization (ISO) standard document format that will improve the archiving and preservation of case-related documents. Courts currently accept PDF/A documents. However, a target date for requiring that all new documents be filed in PDF/A has not been set. For additional information visit PACER's website: CM/ECF to Transition to PDF/A.