Frequently Asked Questions -- CM/ECF & E-Filing
What is CM/ECF?
In July 2002, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana implemented the Case Management/Electronic Case Filing (CM/ECF) system. CM/ECF is a comprehensive case management system that allows courts to maintain electronic case files and offer electronic filing over the Internet. Using CM/ECF, courts can make case information immediately available electronically via the Internet. Eventually, CM/ECF will replace case management systems used by the federal courts across the country. CM/ECF enhances the accuracy, management and security of records, reduces delays in the flow of information and achieves costs savings for the judiciary, the bar, and litigants.
What are the benefits of using CM/ECF?
There are a number of significant benefits and features:
- Registered attorneys may file documents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Reduction of paper, photocopy, postage and courier costs.
- Full case information is available immediately to attorneys, parties, and the general public through the Internet. This includes the ability to view electronically filed documents.
- Registered attorneys receive email notification of activity in CM/ECF cases. Email service is immediate and eliminates the costs of handling and mailing paper notices for both the court and attorneys.
- Multiple parties can view the same case files simultaneously.
- Since CM/ECF uses Internet standard software, the out-of-pocket cost of participation for attorneys is very low.
What is the cost for using CM/ECF?
There is no fee associated with the electronic filing aspect of the CM/ECF system, which requires an ECF account. Additionally, an ECF-registered attorney will receive a Notice of Electronic Filing for each document that is filed in his/her ECF cases. If the document was filed electronically, the Notice of Electronic Filing will contain a hyperlink that will allow the recipient to obtain a free copy of the document.
Public users accessing the CM/ECF system through a PACER account are charged 8 cents per page for information obtained through the CM/ECF system. There is a cap of $2.10 charged for a single PDF document; however, this cap does not apply to docket sheets or reports. No fee is owed until a PACER account holder accrues charges exceeding $10 in a billing period.
Is CM/ECF training available for attorneys and law firm staff?
The Southern District of Indiana offers the following CM/ECF training materials online; a tutorial, and CBT modules. A free, 1-hour, hands-on CM/ECF training class is held at the Indianapolis Courthouse once each week. Area law firms may also arrange to have a free ECF demonstration held at their firm. Please contact the Clerk's Office at (317) 229-3700 to sign up for CM/ECF training or schedule a demonstration.
Who can I contact for help with CM/ECF?
For help with an electronic filing or an electronic notice from the Court's CM/ECF system, please contact the Clerk's Office (317) 229-3700.
For PACER questions and browser-related issues, please contact the PACER Service Center at (800) 676-6856 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Central Time, or go to: www.pacer.psc.uscourts.gov
Can the general public view CM/ECF cases and documents?
Yes, the public can access case data and documents in CM/ECF unless the case has been sealed by the court. The public access component of CM/ECF requires a user to enter a PACER login and password. Because a PACER login and an ECF login perform different functions, a filing attorney should have both. For those currently not registered with PACER, a PACER account may be obtained at: http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/register.html
Can any member of the public use CM/ECF to file documents electronically?
No. Access to the filing portion of CM/ECF is available only to attorneys who have registered for and obtained an ECF login and password in the Southern District of Indiana. To obtain an ECF login and password, please submit a completed Attorney Registration Form.
How does an attorney become an authorized CM/ECF user?
For authorization to file documents electronically and to receive e-mail notices of documents that are filed, an attorney must be admitted to practice (either through standard or Pro Hac Vice admission) and register for an ECF account. Upon registration with the court, attorneys will be provided with an identification name and password that will permit access to the filing aspect of the system. Visit the Court's ECF webpage to obtain an Attorney Registration Form and other valuable ECF information. ECF training is provided by the Court at no charge. To schedule a training session or an ECF demonstration at a law firm, please contact the Clerk's Office at (317) 229-3700.
How do I change my CM/ECF password?
- Once logged in, go to 'Utilities' on the blue tool bar at the top of the page.
- Click on 'Change Your Login/Password' in the 'Your Account' section.
- Highlight the row of asterisks in the password box and type your new password in their place.
- Click on 'Submit' at the bottom of the page.
- A confirmation message will appear on the screen that the user update was successful.
NOTE: If a password is forgotten, please see "How do I reset my password" below. The court no longer maintains users' password information.
How do I reset my CM/ECF password?
- Return to the court's Home page and click on the 'ECF-PACER Login' link.
- Above the Login ID and Password authentication prompt is the message "If you forgot you CM/ECF password, you can request a password reset here." Click "here".
- Enter your Login ID and click "Submit". Your request will be processed and an email message sent to the address of record for your account.
How do I change my contact information (physical address, email address, etc.)?
An attorney whose name, mailing address, telephone number, fax number or e-mail address (primary and/or secondary) has changed must notify the clerk’s office within 30 days of such change (see L.R. 5-3(c)(1).) Please follow the instructions to complete and/or file a Notice of Change of Attorney Information.
How are electronically filed documents served?
The CM/ECF system automatically generates a Notice of Electronic Filing (an email message containing a hyperlink to the document filed) whenever a document is filed with the court. This Notice is emailed to all ECF-registered attorneys of record for the case in which the document was filed. Recipients of the email notice may use the link within the notice to view the document that was filed at no charge.
How do I get my free copy of electronically filed documents?
ECF-registered attorneys of record in a case receive one free electronic copy of all documents filed electronically. Registered attorneys will receive a Notice of Electronic Filing (an email message containing a hyperlink to the document filed) each time a document is filed electronically using the Court's CM/ECF system. The hyperlink within the Notice of Electronic Filing may be used to view the document filed at no charge.
The Notice of Electronic Filing hyperlink will expire after the earlier of these two events: the first use or 30 days. Any time that same hyperlink is accessed after it has expired, the user will be asked for a PACER login and will be charged (10 cents per page) to view the document. All users are advised to print or save the document during the initial viewing period in order to avoid future charges.
Can I forward my free-look to someone else?
The document within an email notification is accessed by a hyperlink. The hyperlink takes the recipient to a site which will allow the first viewing of the document to be free. The first individual to view the linked document will not be charged. If an email notification is forwarded without viewing the document first, the recipient of the email will be able to use the free-look. Anytime after the first viewing, a charge will be incurred to view the document. To avoid charges, the document should be saved to a local hard drive and/or printed during the first viewing.
How do I add someone to my account to receive notices on my ECF cases?
Log into the CM/ECF system with your ECF login and password. Click on ‘Utilities.' Click on ‘Change Your E-mail Addresses.' Click 'Add new e-mail address.' Enter the new secondary e-mail address. After completing the information requested on the screen, click on 'Submit all changes.' You should receive a confirmation message on the screen that your email preferences were successfully updated. Make sure you keep your email address current, so you don't miss notices.
What happens when an attorney leaves a firm?
When an attorney leaves a firm, both the attorney and the firm need to consider the implications to the CM/ECF noticing system. If cases will move with the attorney, the attorney needs to change his/her e-mail address and follow the instructions to complete and/or file a Notice of Change of Attorney Information. If cases will remain with the firm, the firm will need to ensure that the Court docket accurately reflects the proper attorney of record and that the new attorney of record is properly set up to receive e-mail notification.
Why doesn't my email notification contain a hyperlink to the document filed?
If an attorney receives an email notification that does not contain a hyperlink to the document filed, it is because the document was not filed electronically. Email notifications are provided for all documents filed in ECF cases, regardless of the manner (paper or electronic) used to file the document. The email notification will contain a link to the document if the document was filed electronically. A hyperlink may not be provided for documents that were filed on paper, as the filing party will be responsible for serving all counsel of record with a paper copy of the document.
What kind of hardware/software is needed to participate in CM/ECF?
Attorneys 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 or Macintosh.
- Software to convert documents from a word processor format to portable document format (PDF). Adobe® Acrobat® Reader allows users to view PDF documents, not create them. Various software packages (some are available at no charge) will allow users to create PDF documents. For more information about PDF software and documents, click here > PDF Info
- A PDF-compatible word processor like Macintosh or Windows-based versions of WordPerfect® or MS-Word®.
- A scanner to convert paper documents that are not available in a word processing format.
What is a PDF document?
Documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) do not require a copy of the word processing program used to create them in order to be viewed. They can be viewed by anyone who has a free Acrobat® Reader, a product of Adobe® Systems, Inc. In addition to its cross platform advantage, a PDF document matches very closely the format of the original document in which the PDF document was created. All of the pleadings in the CM/ECF system are stored in PDF format. To view PDF files, you must have a copy of the Acrobat® Reader software, which you may download free from the Adobe® Systems Internet website, at: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html
How do I create a PDF document using Adobe Acrobat® Writer?
Write your document in Microsoft Word® or Corel WordPerfect® and when finished, click on 'File' > 'Print.' Select 'Acrobat Distiller' as the printer, then name your file, place it in the proper directory, and click 'OK.' The file will be created with a .pdf extension. In doing this, you are not actually printing your document to a printer, but you are saving it as a PDF file. To print a physical copy of the document, open the newly-created .pdf file and print to your local printer. Always print from this PDF file, rather than the word-processed file that created it to ensure that the paper and electronic versions are consistent.
Am I required to use Adobe® software when converting my documents to PDF?
No. There are dozens of different software manufacturers who have created PDF writer packages. In fact, some of them are available at no charge and can be downloaded with ease directly from the internet. For more information about creating PDF documents, click here > PDF Info.
What are the rules and procedures related to electronic filing?
How do I file a document electronically using CM/ECF?
Convert the document(s) to PDF before submitting them electronically. Then go to the Court's Website at www.insd.uscourts.gov and click on the 'ECF-PACER Login' link. Use the attorney's ECF login and password to access the CM/ECF system. Go to the Civil Events page using the 'Civil' link on the blue menu bar at the top of the screen. Click on the appropriate event category for the document that you are filing and follow the instructions on each screen.
The Court's E-filing Instructions contain checklists and helpful tips for electronic filing.
The ECF Policies and Procedures Manual identifies the procedural requirements for electronic filing.
How can I determine if opposing counsel will be served electronically?
To find out if opposing counsel is a registered e-filer and will be served electronically with a copy of your document, login to CM/ECF and follow these instructions.
CM/ECF has a Mailing list feature that will allow a user determine if opposing counsel is a registered e-filer and will be served electronically with a copy of the filed document, or to copy a service list for a particular case and paste it into a word processing document. To obtain the current mailing list for a case:
- Log in to CM/ECF using your Attorney ECF login and password
- Go to ' Utilities' on the blue CM/ECF menu bar
- Click on the 'Mailings' link
- Click on 'Mailing Info for a Case'
- Enter the cause number for the case and click 'Submit'
Can I file electronically in any case?
The Southern District of Indiana implemented the CM/ECF system on July 1, 2002. All civil cases filed on or after that date are maintained in CM/ECF and case participants are required to file electronically in those cases. Any civil cases filed prior to July 1, 2002 (with a few exceptions) and all criminal cases are still monitored through the Court's previous case management system, known as JAMS. Docket sheets for JAMS cases may be viewed online at no charge, however documents may not be filed electronically for JAMS cases. To determine whether a particular case is docketed in CM/ECF or JAMS, check the Court's Case Info webpage.
Where can I get help with an electronic filing?
For help with an electronic filing during regular business hours, please contact the Clerk's Office at (317) 229-3700.
After hours, please consult any of the court's online E-Filing Resources for assistance with electronic filing, including e-filing instructions, checklists and helpful tips.
The ECF Policies and Procedures Manual identifies the procedural requirements for electronic filing.