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Frequently Asked Questions -- CM/ECF & E-Filing
What is CM/ECF and PACER?
The web-based software system called CM/ECF (Case Management/Electronic Case Files) has two parts. The “CM” portion is the case management system used by the Southern District Court (and by most federal courts) to internally manage the cases filed in the jurisdiction. The “ECF” portion is the electronic case filing system used in the Southern District of Indiana (and in most federal courts). This system provides attorneys the ability to electronically file case documents, as required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 5(d)(3)(a).
PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) operates as a kind of “portal” allowing users access to publicly-available case information in federal courts nationwide. PACER is available o members of the general public, as well as attorneys. Users must have a login for the PACER system.
The CM/ECF system is accessed by an attorney's PACER account.
Why use CM/ECF and PACER?
There are several significant benefits and features:
- Registered attorneys may file documents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Attorneys who are registered in CM/ECF will receive an email notifying them when a document has been filed in a case in which they have appeared, eliminating the costs of generating and mailing paper notices for both the court and attorneys.
- Reduction of paper, photocopy, postage and courier costs.
- Public case information is available immediately to attorneys, parties, and the general public through the Internet. This includes the ability to view electronically filed documents.
Can the general public view cases and documents contained in CM/ECF?
Yes. Through PACER, the public can access case information and documents in CM/ECF unless the case or document has been restricted by the court. The public access component of CM/ECF requires a user to enter a PACER login and password.
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. With rare exceptions, access to the filing portion of CM/ECF is available only to attorneys who have registered for and obtained filing access in the Southern District of Indiana. A pro se litigant who wishes to file electronically may do so if the court issues an order granting the litigant permission to file using CM/ECF.
How does an attorney become an authorized CM/ECF user?
To file documents electronically and to receive e-mail notices of documents that are filed, an attorney must be admitted to practice in the Southern District of Indiana (either through standard or Pro Hac Vice admission) and must be in good standing. Each attorney seeking to file documents electronically must request access to the Court's CM/ECF system via their individual PACER account. A requesting attorney will receive an e-mail message indicating that the request has been granted or denied. Visit the Court's ECF webpage for more information ECF information.
How much does it cost to use CM/ECF and PACER?
Filing in CM/ECF requires only an CM/ECF account, which is free. There is no cost to file a document through CM/ECF.
When a document is filed in CM/ECF, registered attorneys who have appeared in the case will receive, by email, a Notice of Electronic Filing (“NEF”) containing a link to the document. That link may be used once for free (the “free look.”)
Once the link has been used and the “free look” has expired, PACER charges users per page for documents obtained through the CM/ECF system.
Current PACER fee information is available here: https://www.uscourts.gov/services-forms/fees/electronic-public-access-fee-schedule. PACER billing information is available here: https://pacer.uscourts.gov/help/faqs/pricing.
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. Then go to the Court's Website at www.insd.uscourts.gov and click on the 'ECF-PACER Login' link. Use the attorney's PACER login and password to access the CM/ECF system. Click the ‘Civil’ or ‘Criminal’ link (as applicable) on the blue menu bar at the top of the screen. This will take you to the Civil or Criminal ‘Events’ page. Click on the appropriate event category for the document that you are filing and follow the instructions on each screen.
How are electronically filed documents served?
Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 5(b)(2)(E), filing a document with CM/ECF constitutes service on other CM/ECF registered counsel. If counsel has not registered, or if the party is pro se, you must effectuate service using another method.
Registered attorneys of record in a case receive one “free look” of all documents filed electronically. Registered attorneys will be emailed a NEF containing a hyperlink when a document is filed electronically using the Court's CM/ECF system. The hyperlink within the Notice of Electronic Filing may be used once to view the document filed at no charge. In other words, the hyperlink affords one “free look” at the document.
The NEF “free look” hyperlink will expire after it is used, or after 14 days, whichever occurs earlier. If the hyperlink is accessed after the “free look” has been used or has expired, the user will be asked for a PACER login and will be charged (10 cents per page, or up to $3.00 per document) to view the document. Users are advised to print or save the document the first time they click on the hyperlink and open the document to avoid future charges.
Can I forward my "free-look" to someone else?
The hyperlink may be used one time for free access to the document. If an email notification is forwarded before the hyperlink is used, the recipient of the email will be able to use the free look. After the first viewing, a charge will be incurred to view the document.
How can I determine if opposing counsel will be served electronically?
Fed. R. Civ. P. 5(d)(3)(a) requires all represented persons to file electronically, with very limited exceptions. It generally is expected that all counsel litigating in the Southern District of Indiana will be registered ECF users and will be served electronically.
CM/ECF has a mailing list feature that will allow a user to 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:
1. Log in to the attorney's PACER account and access INSD's CM/ECF system.
2. Go to ' Utilities' on the blue CM/ECF menu bar.
3. Click on the 'Mailings' link.
4. Click on 'Mailing Info for a Case'.
5. Enter the cause number for the case and click 'Submit'.
How do I change my CM/ECF password?
1. Once logged in, go to 'Utilities' on the blue tool bar at the top of the page.
2. Click on 'Change Your Login/Password' in the 'Your Account' section.
3. Highlight the row of asterisks in the password box and type your new password in their place.
4. Click on 'Submit' at the bottom of the page.
5. 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 change my contact information (physical address, email address, etc.)?
An attorney whose contact information has changed must update his or her contact information in PACER within 5 business days and file a Notice of Change of Information form in each of the attorney's pending cases.
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.
How do I add additional cases for noticing to my account?
Log into the CM/ECF system with your ECF login (first initial, last name and four digits code) and password. Click "Utilities". Click "Change your e-mail addresses". Click the appropriate email address in the left-hand column (primary or secondary). In the "Case-specific options" section of the right-hand column, enter the case number in the "add additional cases for noticing" field. Click "Find this case". Click "Add case(s)". The case should appear in the "per filing" case list below. You have the option to select cases in the "per filing" list and switch to "summary report". The summary report will deliver all activity for cases in one email at midnight. Once the case(s) has been added, click "Submit all Changes" in the left-hand column. You should receive an on-screen confirmation message - "The update was successful".
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 must change his or her contact information in PACER and file a Notice of Change of Attorney Information in each of the attorney's pending cases. If cases will remain with the firm, the firm must 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.
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 Mac OS X.
- Software to convert documents from a word processor format to portable document format (PDF), because all documents in the CM/ECF system are stored in PDF format. Microsoft Word and Corel WordPerfect can convert documents to PDF. Other products are available, some at no charge. A PDF-compatible word processor like Microsoft Word or Corel WordPerfect.
- Adobe Acrobat Reader (available for free) or other software for viewing PDF documents.
- A scanner to convert paper documents that are not available in a word processing format.
Is CM/ECF training available for attorneys and law firm staff?
The Southern District of Indiana offers extensive CM/ECF training materials and guidance on its website.
Who can I contact for help with electronic filing?
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.
Who can I contact for help with CM/ECF or PACER?
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.uscourts.gov.