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Criminal Electronic Filing Frequently Asked Questions

1. What documents are to be electronically filed?

Unless otherwise ordered by the presiding judge in a particular case, all documents are to be electronically filed in criminal cases except “come-up memos,” requests for pre-plea record checks, pre-sentence reports, and any documents in sealed cases.  Refer to Electronic Filing in Criminal Cases for more information.

2. Are plea agreements to be electronically filed?

Yes. In all cases plea agreements will consist of two separate documents: the main body of the agreement and a supplement setting forth whether the defendant has agreed to cooperate and, if so, the terms of the cooperation agreement. Unless otherwise ordered by the presiding judge, the main body of the agreement will be publicly accessible but the supplement will be a sealed document.

3. Are there certain types of electronically filed documents that will be sealed?

Yes. As just stated in the preceding section, supplements to plea agreements must be sealed unless otherwise ordered by the presiding judge. Presentence reports (when they are placed in the record for appeal) also must be sealed unless otherwise ordered by the presiding judge. Requests for Rule 17 subpoenas will be restricted to court users only.  Any document with a juror’s name must be restricted to court users only. If a party wants any other document to be sealed, he/she must electronically file a motion to seal the document. The document will be under seal until the presiding judge rules upon the motion to seal.  Refer to Sealed Criminal Document Procedures for more information.  

4. Can docket entries pertaining to court proceedings be sealed if there is good cause to prevent them from appearing on the public record?

Upon the request of a party or on his/her own motion, the presiding judge may enter an order sealing a particular court proceeding and docket entries referring to that proceeding when deemed appropriate by the presiding judge.  Refer to Sealed Criminal Documents for more information.

5. Will access to certain electronically filed documents be restricted even if the documents are not sealed?

Yes. For example, unless otherwise ordered by the presiding judge, financial affidavits will not be accessible. Unless otherwise ordered by the presiding judge, the fact that a financial affidavit has been filed will appear on the public record, and all parties will be electronically noticed of the filing of the document. However, the document itself will not be viewable. Many other documents have other restrictions. For example, sentencing memoranda are restricted to case participants and those using public terminals at the Clerk’s Office, unless otherwise ordered by the presiding judge. Refer to Sentencing Memorandum for more information.

Some documents have added security which allows them to be viewed only by case participants. In this situation, when the NEF is received the recipient must login using the CM/ECF password then the PACER login to view the document. This is a security feature so that PACER recognizes the user as a case participant. If any party or member of the public believes a document filed in a particular case to which access is restricted should be made publicly accessible, she/he must make a motion to that effect. Access to the documents will remain restricted unless and until the presiding judge grants the motion.   

6. Do I still have to serve paper copies?

Generally, no. However, you must still serve a paper copy of (1) any sealed document (only upon counsel for the party or parties entitled to receive a copy) and (2) any document upon a person who is appearing pro se (and thus not permitted to engage in electronic filing). When the number of pages for the main document plus attachments total 15 pages or more, one paper copy of all the documents must be submitted to the Clerk’s Office as a courtesy copy for the presiding judge.  Refer to Courtesy Copies for more information.