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About CM/ECF

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The federal judiciary's Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) project revolutionized the way in which the federal courts manage their cases and documents. This easy-to-use system allows attorneys to file documents directly with the court over the Internet and allows courts to file, store, and manage their case files in an easy-to-access, transparent way.

The CM/ECF system uses standard computer hardware, an Internet connection and a browser, and accepts documents in Portable Document Format (PDF). (To improve security and archiving capabilities, plans are underway to require that filers use the newer PDF/A format.) The system is easy to use – filers prepare a document using conventional word processing software, then save the document as a PDF file. After logging onto the court's web site with a court-issued password, the filer enters basic information relating to the case and the document being filed, attaches the document, and submits it to the court. There are no added fees for filing documents over the Internet using CM/ECF. A notice verifying court receipt of the filing is generated automatically and e-mailed to the parties in the case.

CM/ECF provides courts the ability to make their documents available to the public over the Internet. Electronic access to court data is available through the judiciary's Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) program. Litigants receive one free copy of documents filed electronically in their cases, which they can save or print for their files. Additional copies are available to attorneys and the general public for viewing or downloading at ten cents per page, with a maximum cost per document of $3.00. Copies of court opinions, as designated by the authoring judge, are available at no charge. Neither the free copy nor the maximum cost per document applies to transcripts filed with the court or docket sheets. As directed by Congress, the judiciary's electronic public access program is funded entirely through user fees set by the Judicial Conference of the United States.

Amendments to the Federal Appellate, Bankruptcy, Civil, and Criminal Rules of Procedure address issues relating to privacy and public access to electronic case files. The Rules require that filers redact certain "personal identifier" information, such as Social Security or taxpayer-identification numbers, dates of birth, names of minor children, financial account numbers, and in criminal cases, home addresses, from their filings. Fed. R. App. P. 25(a)(5); Fed. R. Civ. P. 5.2; Fed. R. Crim. P. 49.1; Fed. R. Bankr. P. 9037. At login to CM/ECF, a message reminds attorneys of their responsibility to redact this private information from the documents they file.  The most recent version of this reminder also requires attorneys to acknowledge that they have read the notice and complied with the redaction rules. Filers cannot complete the login process without checking the acknowledgement in this recent version.

The national roll-out of the CM/ECF system for bankruptcy courts started in early 2001. The CM/ECF system for district courts began to roll out nationally in May 2002. Implementation of the CM/ECF system for appellate courts began in 2005. Over 41 million cases are on CM/ECF systems, and more than 700,000 attorneys and others have filed documents over the Internet. Development of the Next Generation of CM/ECF is underway.

For more information, please contact: Barbara Kimble, Office of Judges Programs (202) 502-1862

To register for CM/ECF, please contact your court.