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What is the Case Management/Electronic case file (CM/ECF) project?
CM/ECF is a two-part solution to the judiciary's case management and filing needs. It has been motivated by the necessity of replacing an aging family of case management application (BANCAP). At the same time, the system includes the capability for electronic files, including the ability to accept Court filings over the Internet. CM/ECF allows all documents associated with a Court case to be managed electronically. It supports the unique interests of different communities -- Courts, attorneys and the public -- while providing a next generation case management system. Eventually the traditional case file will be a completely electronic "case file" that does not have any or very little paper.
What are the benefits and features of using ECF?
There are a number of significant benefits and features:
- Registered attorneys are able to file documents with the Court 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, from any location (bench, chambers, home, office)
- Public access to case information is available to all registered users (attorneys, parties and the general public) through the Internet. This includes the ability to view the full text of all filed documents and images
- Immediate e-mail notification of case activity to parties and Court staff
- Secure storage of documents
- Immediate and concurrent access to case files
- Reduced need for physical file space
- Future ability to view archived files without retrieval from records storage facility
What Courts are currently using CM/ECF?
All but 2 Bankruptcy Courts are live with CM/ECF. The Administrative Office’s implementation teams have been working with the remaining Bankruptcy Courts who are in the process of implementation. Many District Courts are currently operational on CM/ECF and additional District Courts are in the implementation process.
Who developed CM/ECF?
ECF is the key automation project in the federal judiciary. All software development for the project is done centrally, by employees of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts in Washington, DC.
When will CM/ECF be available for attorneys to file electronically?
The system is currently available to all attorneys. Prior to participation in the ECF system, external electronic filers will be required to complete a training and certification program administered by the Court. For details on the training program and requirements for attorneys, please see the training page for more information.
What Hardware/Software is needed on the attorney's end to use ECF?
- Personal computer (PC) with a standard operating system (i.e.Windows 95 (OSR 2.0), Windows 98, Windows Millennium, Windows 2000, or Windows NT (4.0 w/Service Pack 5 or 6))
- 64 MB or more of RAM
- 115 MB of hard disk space
- and a CD ROM drive
- A Pentium (or equivalent) based processor is suggested as the processor speed of the PC could impact the response time of the CM/ECF application.
- Macintosh with Mac OS 8.8, 9.0.4, or 9.1;
- 64 MB or more of RAM;
- 105 MB of hard disk space;
- and a CD ROM drive.
- Scanner for documents that are not available in electronic format.
- Modem that is at least 56K. Connection can be made at speeds less than 56K, however response time may be less than optimal.
- Microsoft Internet Explorer 7
- Adobe Acrobat Writer software (or other software) to convert documents from word processing format to Portable Document Format (PDF) or to save scanned documents to PDF.
- Word processing package such as Microsoft Word or WordPerfect.
An Internet Service Provider (ISP) using point-to-point protocol (PPP). It is recommended that the provider be capable of a minimum connection speed of 56K. High-speed access (i.e. ISDN, cable modem, and DSL) is recommended for attorneys who plan to do a high volume of electronic filing.
What is Adobe Acrobat and PDF?
Adobe Acrobat is commercial software from Adobe that allows you to save your documents in PDF (portable document format). All documents filed in ECF must be in PDF format (with the exception of the case mailing matrix, which is required to be in txt format). Acrobat is available from commercial software retailers for approximately $200 - $300. Adobe also distributes a program called Acrobat Reader that allows you to view and print (but not create) PDF documents. The reader is available for free download at www.adobe.com. There are many other PDF converter products available at lower costs at Internet sites such as www.docauto.com.
How is payment of filing fees handled for ECF cases?
Payment for ECF filings fees is made by credit card using the Court's E-commerce software. Information regarding the payment of fees will be made available during training or by viewing the Internet payment fees manual (PDF).
Browser pop-ups need to be enabled to pay using the E-commerce software. Please view the information regarding browser pop-up windows.
How is the requirement of an original signature (attorney and/or debtor) handled for ECF cases?
On July 29, 2002 the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Utah issued Administrative Order #1 regarding Electronic Procedures. The Order and procedures will provide ECF guidance for participants. The Order provides that the Participant's identification name and password will serve as the Participant's signature for all purposes under Fed. R. Bankr. P. 9011 and 18 U.S.C. § 152(4). A Participant whose password is used to file a petition, pleading, motion, claim or other document thereby certifies that the Participant, whether an attorney or a unrepresented party, has authorized the filing. All signatures on electronically filed documents will be indicated by /s/. Example: /s/ Jane Doe. If you scan pleadings that image original signatures, this is acceptable as well. View Administrative Order #1 View Electronic Case Filing Protocols and Registration Forms.
Can an attorney authorize someone in the attorney's office (such as a paralegal) to use the attorney's login name and password to file documents in ECF?
Yes, but the Court recommends that such access be very limited and controlled since whatever is filed under that name and password is deemed to have the attorney's signature on it.