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                                                Frequently Asked Questions

What is case management/electronic case filing (CM/ECF)?

  • CM/ECF is a document management and electronic filing system.
  • The system provides an easy-to-use electronic filing feature that allows attorneys to file and view documents over the Internet.
What are the benefits of CM/ECF?

  • Users can file and view documents over the Internet from anywhere they have access to the Internet.
  • Allows remote document filing and electronic service of documents.
  • Parties and the court receive immediate email notification of case activity.
  • Secure electronic storage of documents (eliminating misplaced files).
What equipment do I need to use ECF?

  • A personal computer running a standard platform such as Windows or Macintosh.
  • Word processing software.
  • Software to convert documents into PDF (portable document format).
  • Internet access and browser.
  • The system has been certified to work with Firefox/Mozilla 2.0 and with Microsoft Internet Explorer version 6.0 and 7.0. You will have faster service with high speed Internet access such as cable or DSL.
  • Scanning equipment is required for documents that are not in electronic format.
How do I get started with ECF?

  • You must be admitted to practice before the Court.
  • You must be registered to file electronically. To register, visit the Court's web site at www.mdd.uscourts.gov. Select "For Attorneys" and CM/ECF Electronic Filing-Registration. You will be provided with a Court-issued login and password following the e-filing registration. Allow 2 business days to receive your login and password.
  • You may want to obtain a PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) account to fully benefit from the system. Apply for a PACER account by visiting http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov. The PACER account does not need to be an individual account; one account shared by a firm would work fine. There is a fee associated with access to PACER, unless you are a government attorney or appointed under the Criminal Justice Act. For more information on PACER access fees, please see the PACER web site.
  • Download the Procedures Manuals (civil or criminal) from the Court's website.
  • Sign up for a training class, offered at both the Baltimore and Greenbelt federal courthouses.
How do I file electronically?

  • Create your document using any word processing software.
  • Save the document in portable document format (PDF).
  • Log onto the Court's CM/ECF system using a login and password issued by the Court to registered members of the bar.
  • Follow the prompts to provide information about the case, party, and document to be filed.
  • Attach the PDF document and submit it to the Court for filing by pressing the submit button.
  • Save or print the CM/ECF Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) from the Court confirming that the document was filed.
What about the requirement for a signature? How do I sign documents in ECF?

  • The Court issues logins and passwords for attorneys who are members of the bar of the Court and have registered for e-filing.
  • The e-filing login and password together will constitute your signature.
Are there fees?

  • There is no added fee for filing documents over the Internet using CM/ECF; existing filing fees still apply.
  • Attorneys receive one free view of documents filed electronically in their cases; during this view you may download and save the document. You also may print a copy.
  • Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) makes court records available to attorneys, parties, and the general public at a cost of eight cents per page, with a $2.40 cap on the charge for any single document (no cap for transcripts).
  • Congress directed the Courts to fund electronic access through user fees. The judiciary has set the fee at the lowest possible level sufficient to recoup program costs.
What happens once the document is filed electronically?

  • ECF will send a receipt to the filer verifying that the document has been received.
  • ECF will file the document and automatically update the docket sheet.
  • ECF will send, by email, a notice of the filing to all parties who have agreed to receive electronic notices.
  • The email notification will contain a hyperlink to an electronically filed document. If the ”document number” is hyperlinked, you may click on it to receive your one time free access to the document. Since electronic notices are sent whenever there is case activity, you may receive a notification that does not contain a hyperlink to a document. In these instances, the document does not exist in electronic form.
How secure is CM/ECF?

  • CM/ECF has many security features and has passed an evaluation by the National Security Agency.
  • You must maintain the security of your login and password.
What can be expected as far as system availability? How can it be expected to be operational 24 hours a day/7 days a week? Won’t the system have to be down for maintenance and upgrades?

  • System downtime has proved to be very minimal. For scheduled maintenance and periodic software upgrades, notices are posted on the web site advising of anticipated downtime and attempts are made to do this work during periods of lower activity (i.e. early mornings and weekends). If there are technical difficulties, obviously, alerts may not be possible and length of time estimates may be difficult.
What if our computer system crashes and we have waited until the 11th hour to file?

  • You will proceed in much the same manner as you did before if your computer crashed and you could not print your document so that it could be filed, i.e., submit a request for enlargement of time.
  • One of the benefits of the system is that electronic filings can be made from practically any location with Internet access so that if all that is down is your Internet access you can save your document to a disk and file from home or a commercial establishment which provides Internet access.
How do I handle voluminous exhibits? Hard copy filing? Scanning?

  • Large documents which have to be scanned place a burden on the system because they take up much more storage space than those which were created in electronic format. Similarly, users attempting to access large scanned documents will face lengthy download times.
  • If you are filing as an exhibit or attachment a document which can only be converted to electronic format by scanning and which is longer than 50 pages, do not file the document electronically. For scanned documents over 50 pages, you should electronically file a Notice of Filing of Lengthy Exhibit (form is available on court's web site; also see Appendix C of the Civil Procedures Manual; or Appendix B of the Criminal Manual). Within 24 hours, file and serve the document in paper format along with the traditional certificate of service and paper copies of the Notice of Filing of Lengthy Exhibit and the notice of electronic filing.
Can I add email addresses to my account? Can I change my password?

  • Yes, you can change your email address and other contact information. Click on Utilities, Maintain Your Account and then E-mail information. You may then change your e-mail address, add additional email addresses to receive notification that a document has been filed, sign up to receive notification that documents have been filed in cases where you are not counsel of record, choose whether to receive a separate notification of each instance of docket activity in your cases or a single notice of all activity in all of your cases that day, and choose whether the notification is sent in HTML or text format. Once you have made changes, click Return to Account Screen, and then Submit.
  • Yes, you can change your password. This function is discussed in Section II.B, Changing Your Password. You may change your physical address, email address, phone and fax numbers as necessary to maintain a good address with the court as required by our Local Rules. However, if you wish to change how your name appears in the system, you should contact our Attorney Admission Specialist, at (410) 962-3293.
Can I send a CD to the Court containing a document I want to file?

  • Generally, the answer is “No.” CD’s should only be submitted if:
    • You are filing a new case;
    • You are filing a sealed document; OR
    • You are filing CJA budget materials.
How is service made?

  • The filer remains legally responsible for effecting service.
  • Fed. R. Civ. P. 5 and Fed. R. Crim.P.49.1 permit service by electronic means. When a document is filed electronically using CM/ECF, an email notification is automatically sent to all attorneys in the case who are registered users of the system. This constitutes service on attorneys who are registered users.
  • When you are filing a paper electronically, the last screen the filer sees is the electronic notice of filing. The notice will list the attorneys who have been served electronically. For them, the electronic notification will constitute service and no separate certificate of service is required.
  • The electronic notification also identifies parties and/or attorneys that are NOT registered users of the system. The filer is responsible for serving copies of pleadings on unregistered users by other means. A certificate of service should be electronically filed with the Court anytime a document must be served by other than electronic means.
  • Administrative Order 2003-8 can be located on the court’s website if you need additional information regarding service on parties.
Will non-parties be able to access files over PACER? If not, how will a non-party obtain access to public records?

  • Yes, non-parties are eligible to register for PACER and are able to access files through PACER.
  • There are public terminals located in the Clerk’s Offices in both divisions that will allow users to electronically file and view documents.
What other information should I be aware of?

  • Only Microsoft Internet Explorer version 6.0 and 7.0 and Firefox/Mozilla 2.0 have been certified to be fully compatible with CM/ECF. If you have any other Internet browser, either newer or older, you may have problems using the system. To obtain a browser that works with CM/ECF, go to www.pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/announcements/general/browser.html.
  • CM/ECF sends out email notification of all docket activity regardless of whether the document was filed electronically. If the document was not filed electronically, you will not be able to view it through a link in the email nor by using your PACER account. When a document is not filed electronically the filing party is responsible for serving copies by mail or other means permitted by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. When a court document is not filed electronically, copies will be mailed to parties entitled to notice.
  • If you have questions or comments, please contact the Clerk's Office in Baltimore or Greenbelt or send an email to MDD_Voyager@mdd.uscourts.gov.
How will filing fees be paid?

  • Filing fees can be paid through the CM/ECF system if you are filing on line via credit or check card using a secure payment option.
  • If you are filing your case in the traditional manner you may remit payment by check, credit card or cash.
How will affidavits be filed? Scanned? Should there be a Local Rule covering the verification of signatures on affidavits?

  • Documents which are required to be signed by persons who are not counsel of record in a particular case, such as verified pleadings, affidavits, etc., may be submitted in electronic format in any of several ways so long as counsel has and maintains the signed original.
    • If the document is less than 15 pages, it can be scanned and then filed electronically.
    • An electronic version bearing an “/s/” can be filed along with a statement by counsel below the signature line that he or she has the signed copy.
    • An electronic version bearing an “/s/” can be filed with a scanned copy of the signature page as an attachment.
What about filings under seal?

  • Sealed documents in criminal cases can be filed electronically by counsel or can be submitted to the Clerk’s Office for filing. Before proceeding with the filing of a sealed document, please refer to the Criminal Manual for detailed instructions. Currently, sealed documents in civil cases cannot be filed electronically by counsel. They must be submitted to the Clerk’s Office on a CD or disk and the Clerk’s Office will electronically file them for you. Please refer to the Civil Procedures Manual for instructions.
What about training in ECF?

  • Training is available at both the Greenbelt and Baltimore Courthouses. See the Court’s web site "CM/ECF" section for training schedules and sign-up information.
What happens if a document is filed in the wrong case?

  • Please notify the Clerk's Office immediately. Then, the docket entry will be marked "FILED IN ERROR IN WRONG CASE" and the link to that document will be disabled so that the document will only be accessible to court users only. The Clerk's Office will request that the document be re-filed by counsel in the correct case.
Can I combine a motion and a response/reply in a single electronic filing?

  • In most instances you may not combine a motion with a response/reply; however, if you are filing a Response to a Motion for Summary Judgment and simultaneously filing your Motion for Summary Judgment, it can be filed together as one document. IT IS CRITICAL that you select the motion event and not a response event.
How many times will I be able to view my case documents as an attorney of record?

  • If you are an attorney of record in a case, you will not be charged the first time you view a document. However, the next time you view the same document, you will be charged 8 cents per page. PACER will bill you after your account reaches $10.00 in a calendar year.
What do I do when I receive a "Page Cannot Be Displayed" error when accessing documents from the e-mail notification?

  • Things to try when you cannot access a pdf document from an e-mail message.
    • Close and re-open the browser (Internet Explorer or Firefox)
    • Reboot the computer
    • Clear temporary internet files in Internet Explorer. (Tools...Internet Options...Delete Files) and then close and re-open the browser
    • Change cache setting in Internet Explorer (Tools...Internet Options...Settings...select "Every visit to the page")
    • Delete all .pdf files from C:\documents and settings\your name\local settings\temp
The attorney is not receiving his e-mail notification and we are not getting a returned e-mail. We verified that the e-mail address on file is correct.

  • Check with your IT department first to determine if a spam filter is attached to your email account. Sometimes when e-mail notifications are sent, the attorney's e-mail address is in the bcc field and is therefore mistaken for "spam" by some filters. If the user has a Hotmail account, Hotmail will automatically delete suspected spam unless a setting is changed. Attorneys will need to add "www.mdd.uscourts.gov" as an accepted domain in their "spam" filter.

    To change the setting in Hotmail, go to Options...Junk Mail Filter.
How do I register for PACER?

  • Go to the PACER Service Center's website at www.pacer.psc.uscourts.gov, and complete the online form as instructed. You may also call the center toll free at 1-800-676-6856 to register. The court does not have any control over user accounts through PACER. Such inquiries must only be directed to PACER.
If I am from a large law firm, does each attorney need to register for CM/ECF?

  • Yes. Each attorney must have his/her own login and password to file documents in CM/ECF. The login and password, along with the "/s/" on a document, constitute the attorney's signature. However, all attorneys in the firm can share a PACER login and password for viewing documents.
How do I find out who is receiving electronic notices so I can prepare my Certificate of Service accordingly?

  • Log into CM/ECF and click on Utilities->Mailings->Mailing Info for a Case
What is the difference between a PACER account and a CM/ECF Account?

  • PACER allows for viewing previously filed documents, searching for cases and case activity, and generating docket sheets. CM/ECF allows you to electronically file a document with the court.
I am changing firms. Do I need to establish a new e-filing login and password?

  • You do not need to register for CM/ECF more than once. Even if you change firms, your login remains valid. However, you must update your address and e-mail information in the "Utilities" option of the CM/ECF. It will also be necessary to establish a new PACER login and password. A PACER account may be obtained at: http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/register.html
Can we file requests for production of documents and interrogatories with the Court?

  • No. Discovery, Notice of Service of Discovery and Rule 26(a) Disclosures, should not be filed with the Court unless otherwise ordered by the court. Please refer to the Local Rules for further clarification.
Can pro se litigants file documents in my case electronically?

  • No, only attorneys can file electronically. However, pro se litigants may request permission from the court to file documents electronically. Pro se filers should submit documents to the Clerk’s Office and staff will electronically file the document for them.