About Electronic Case Filing
|CM/ECF also provides courts the option to have case file documents in electronic format and to accept filings over the Internet. With the importance of the electronic case filing capabilities, it was named Case Management / Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF). ECF is the name we use to refer to electronic case filing.|
Absolutely! ECF allows attorneys and others to file and view documents from their office, home or anywhere they have access to the Internet, 24 hours a day. Documents are automatically docketed as part of the filing process and then are immediately available electronically! (see Advantages)
In the District of Arizona, attorneys are required to file documents directly with the court over the Internet. Case documents are accessible to the public over the Internet using standard computer hardware, an Internet connection, a browser and a Portable Document Format (PDF) reader. And to file electronically also requires a word processor, PDF writer, and possibly a document scanner (see Requirements).
There are no added fees for filing documents over the Internet using ECF; existing document filing fees do apply. Electronic access to court data is available through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) program. Litigants receive one free copy of documents filed electronically in their cases, which they can save or print for their files. Additional copies are available to attorneys and the general public for viewing or downloading at ten cents per page, with a maximum cost per document of $3.00. Directed by Congress to fund electronic access through user fees, the judiciary has set the fee at the lowest possible level sufficient to recoup program costs.
The Judicial Conference has adopted a set of recommendations relating to privacy and public access to electronic case files. As part of the process to develop these recommendations, public comment was sought on a number of possible approaches. The Judicial Conference's Committee on Court Administration and Case Management is overseeing implementation of the recommendations.
CM/ECF stands for "Case Management / Electronic Case Files". It is a joint project of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and federal district courts to replace existing case management systems with a new system based on current technology, new software, and increased functionality. This system gives federal courts the ability to maintain electronic case files and offer electronic filing of court documents over the Internet. ECF is the name we use to refer to electronic case filing.
The use of electronic filing capabilities is at each individual court's option. Many of the courts that have implemented or are in the process of implementing CM/ECF have chosen to offer electronic filing.
Yes. All attorneys are required to file electronically in the District of Arizona unless granted an exception by the court.
There are no added fees for filing documents over the Internet using ECF, although existing court document filing fees do apply. Electronic access to individual case docket sheets and filed documents is available through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) program. Litigants receive one free copy of documents filed electronically in their cases.
Additional copies are available to attorneys and to the general public for viewing or downloading via PACER at the cost of ten cents per page with a $3.00 cap on the charge for any single document. Directed by Congress to fund electronic access through user fees, the federal judiciary has set the fee at the lowest possible level sufficient to recoup program costs.
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.
Filing a document into ECF requires a login and password. Attorneys can register for ECF filing access and will be issued filing logins and passwords. The password serves as the attorney's signature, and authority to delegate the use of the attorney's ECF "signature" rests with that attorney.
Subject to court orders in individual cases, policy, or other individual court limitations, the public may view dockets and documents in ECF systems through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) program. PACER logins are available to the public at: http:www.pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/register.html .
Documents filed in ECF must be in portable document format (PDF). This format was chosen because it allows a document to retain its pagination, formatting and fonts no matter what type of computer is used to view or print the document. It is also an open, standard format. Adobe Acrobat software, other PDF writers, and many word processors provide for documents prepared in a word processor to also be converted to PDF files.
Filers will need the following hardware and software to file documents in the ECF electronic filing system. Go to the Requirements page for more information.
Filing documents in ECF is easy, so a minimal amount of training is generally all that is needed.