Frequently Asked Questions
What is Electronic Filing?
The electronic filing system streamlines
the process of creating, filing and noticing legal documents by permitting attorneys
in selected civil cases to file documents with the Court and deliver them to opposing
parties directly from their computers using the Internet. It has the potential
to provide substantial savings to attorneys, their clients and the Court while
improving access to Court records. Benefits include: 24 hour access to file or
view documents; immediate creation of docket entries; immediate access to updated
docket sheets and to the documents themselves; potential elimination of paper
files that can be misplaced or lost; potential savings in copying, courier and
noticing costs; and the ability to store and search documents electronically.
What do I need to file electronically?
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, Windows 2000, Windows XP or Macintosh. An Internet provider
using Point to Point Protocol (PPP) Netscape Navigator version 4.6 or 4.7 or Internet
Explorer Version 5.5. Netscape 6 is not recommended for use with CM/ECF or Internet
Explorer version 5.5. The CM/ECF technical staff are currently testing Netscape
version 7.02 and Internet Explorer version 6.0 to certify its compatibility with
the Bankruptcy and District CM/ECF systems. However, we currently have some users
accessing the system using Netscape version 7.02 and Internet Explorer version
Adobe Acrobat PDF Writer software to convert documents from a word processor format
to portable document format (PDF). Acrobat Writer Versions 3.X , 4.X, 5.0, and
6.0 adequately meet the CM/ECF filing requirements. The most recent version, 6.0,
is available from retailers for approximately $220 - $299. The discount that Adobe
previously offered to attorneys has been discontinued. However, there may be volume
discounts that attorneys can receive if ordering multiple copies for their firm.
For viewing documents, not authoring them, Adobe Acrobat Reader only 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. (Updated: July 2003)
ECF Browser Specific?
District Version 1 and
Bankruptcy Version 2 are compatible with both Netscape versions 4.6 or 4.7 and
Internet Explorer version 5.5. Bankruptcy Version 1 is compatible with Netscape
versions 4.6 or 4.7. The CM/ECF technical staff are currently testing Netscape
version 7.02 and Internet Explorer version 6.0 to certify its compatibility
with the Bankruptcy and District CM/ECF systems. However, we currently have
some users accessing the system using Netscape version 7.02 and Internet Explorer
(Updated: July 2003)
How does electronic filing work?
To file electronically, attorneys create
their documents on their computers just as they normally do. Instead of printing
the document on paper, however, attorneys save it in a portable document format
that can be read by others with all formatting intact regardless of the type of
computer or word processor they use. Attorneys then access the electronic filing
system through their Internet provider over the World Wide Web. After establishing
their identity by providing a Court assigned user identification name and password
that serves as their signature for electronically filed documents, attorneys indicate
the case number that their document applies to, the party the document is being
filed on behalf of and the type of document (answer, motion, etc.) being filed.
The document is then sent over the Internet to the Court's computer which immediately
sends a receipt back to the attorney's screen verifying that the document has
been received. The receipt can be printed or saved to disk for future reference.
Additionally, the system automatically creates a docket entry and makes both the
updated docket sheet as well as the document itself instantly available to anyone
with access to the Internet. The system also sends e-mail notification of the
filing to all the parties who desire electronic notice of the filing.
How do I get started?
In order to file electronically, an attorney
must be admitted to practice before the Court and must have previously registered
to file electronically. In addition, the case must be designated by the Court
for electronic filing. Attorney Admission and Electronic Filing Registration forms
can be obtain from the Clerk's Office at any Court location or over the Internet
from the court's home page.
How are cases selected for electronic filing?
Electronic filing is appropriate for nearly
all civil cases. The determination of whether electronic filing will be used in
a particular case will most likely be made at the initial Case Management Conference
(CMC), although the decision can be made at any time. The Court has modified its
Case Information Statement (CIS), which is submitted along with the initial pleading
of each party, so that a party can provide the Court with advance notice that
it has an interest in filing electronically. The Court has also modified Local
Rule 16.3(b) to add electronic filing as an agenda topic at the CMC. Attorneys
who want to have a case designated for electronic filing should bring that desire
to the attention of the presiding judicial officer as soon as possible.
to file a document but it says format not recognizedwhat am
I doing wrong?
All documents must be submitted in Adobe
PDF (portable document format) with an extension of ".pdf". Two common
First, a user thinks that s/he 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 s/he 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.
I can get a docket sheet, but when I try to retrieve a
document I couldn't read the filewhat gives?
You do not need Acrobat software 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 Netscape. The solution--open Netscape:
Options, General Preferences, and in the dialog box add application/pdf; extension
pdf and indicate path to Acrobat.exe file.
How do I file a response to a motion?
From main menu, CLICK
on Civil Events. CLICK on Answer & Responses.
CLICK on Motions. Select the motion.
How do I file a dismissal order?
Judges approve dismissal orders before
filing, even those brought under Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a). Your best bet is to a
file motion with the proposed dismissal order as attachment.
I tried to scan my document into PDF but a lot of errors
You are probably trying to scan the document
via optical character generation (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; but this process has many problems
and should not be done before submitting to CM/ECF. It is permissible to perform
OCR on PDF documents after they are in the CM/ECF system, since any OCR errors
will not placed in the official documents at the court.
Where do I get Adobe Acrobat?
Adobe's website is http://www.adobe.com.
Attorneys can get it for half price through an Adobe legal promotional offer by
calling 1-888-502-5275 toll free.
I am having problems with PACER, what do I do?
PACER (public access to court electronic
records) is not related to the electronic filing program. If a user has trouble
with PACER, they should call the PACER in San Antonio, Texas at 1-800-676-6856.
The PACER internet address is: http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/
Why do I get error messages caused by apostrophes?
The use of apostrophes in certain fields
in the CM/ECF system has been known to cause problems which the AO is attempting
to fix as soon as they are discovered. There is little or any indiciation of the
cause of the problem described by the error messages that you receive. Until this
type of problem is completely eliminated, just note that apostrophe's may cause
problems and their use should be avoided if possible.
My machine locks up at the login screen, but other attorneys
at my firm don't have that problemwhy me?
If you get to the login screen, fill it out and the system hangs when you try
to complete your login, then 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. At least two firms
here have had this problem.