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CM/ECF FAQs

  • What is legal advice and why can't clerk office staff help me with my question?

    Although clerk office staff can answer most questions, we are not lawyers and are prohibited by law from giving legal advice to any party including pro se filers, attorneys, or legal assistants (Title 28 U.S.C. § 955).

     

    What is legal advice?

    Legal advice is a written or oral statement that:

    • Interprets some aspect of the law, court rules, or court procedures;
    • Recommends a specific course of conduct a person should take in an actual or potential legal proceeding; or
    • Applies the law to the individual person's specific factual circumstances.

    For example, we cannot:

    • Give legal advice;
    • Interpret court rules;
    • Interpret court orders;
    • Determine when a decision will be made by the court on pending motions; or
    • Tell you whether you should file a case or what information to include in your court pleadings.

    We can help you by:

    • Answering general questions about how the court works;
    • Directing you to court forms available on our website;
    • Providing general information about court policies and procedures; and
    • Providing technical support for CM/ECF.
  • What is a Noting Date?

    Setting the noting date places a motion on the court calendar. The noting date is the date on which the motion will be ready for consideration and does not necessarily reflect the date on which an order will be issued. Please refer to Local Civil Rule 7 for complete information regarding noting dates.

  • Who do I contact for assistance with my username/password?

    For questions regarding your username/password, please contact PACER Support,
    available between the hours of 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM CST, Monday through Friday.
    Phone: (800) 676-6856
    Email: pacer@psc.uscourts.gov

  • How do I file a Notice of Removal?

    Review the Attorney's Guide to Opening a Notice of Removal Civil Case for step-by-step filing instructions.

  • Should I use punctuation when adding parties?

    No periods or commas should be used in a party's name unless the punctuation is critical to the naming convention, such as "Amazon.com." Other forms of punctuation should still be used (e.g., apostrophes and hyphens).

    For more information on adding party name standards, review the Standards for Entering Party Names into CM/ECF guide and Adding Parties tipsheet.

  • Should I enter the address of each party?

    No, addresses should only be entered at case opening for parties who will be proceeding pro se.

    Also, you can review the Attorney's Guide to Opening a Civil Case  and Adding Parties Tip Sheet

  • How do I know how to enter a party's name?

    For more information on adding party name standards, review the Standards for Entering Party Names into CM/ECF guide.

    Also, you can review the Attorney's Guide to Opening a Civil Case  and Adding Parties Tip Sheet [link to pdf]

  • What if I need to add a minor as a party?

    Minor parties should be added as an Alias (“mnr”) to the party initiating the lawsuit on the minor’s behalf. Minors should be identified by initials only, separated by periods (e.g., "R.M.").

    If the minor is the party initiating the lawsuit, or is a defendant without guardian, they must be entered by their initials only in the Last Name field (with periods):

    For example: If the party name listed on the complaint is "Gerald Erickson as guardian on behalf of minor J.A.," then you should enter the party name as the following:

    Party Name:
    Last Name: Erickson
    First Name: Gerald

    Party Text: as guardian on behalf of

    Alias (mnr): Last Name: J.A.

    For more information on adding party name standards, review the Standards for Entering Party Names into CM/ECF guide.

  • How should I add the Social Security Administration as a party?

    For Social Security cases filed on or after 07/16/2018, the Commissioner should be added as “Commissioner of Social Security” (even if not named as such in the caption).

    For example: If the party name listed on the complaint is "Social Security Administration," then you should select "Commissioner of Social Security" as the party when adding them to a case.

    For more information on adding party name standards, review the Standards for Entering Party Names into CM/ECF guide.

  • How can I open a civil case as a pro se (representing yourself)?
  • I forgot to enter a party! How do I get my additional parties added?

    You will have another opportunity to add parties when you file your initiating document. If you have already filed your initiating document and still need parties added, contact the Attorney Case Opening Help Desk for assistance.

  • How do I get summons issued?

    Download and save the court’s summons form. Post each summons separately. Summonses will be issued electronically by the court the following day. You will receive a Notice of Electronic Filing of the issued summons when the court enters it on the docket. Use the document hyperlink in the Notice of Electronic Filing to retrieve the issued summons form to effect service of process.

  • Can cases still be filed over the counter or through mail and email?

    For attorneys, only sealed cases can be filed over the counter. All other attorney filings must be made through CM/ECF (with the exception of miscellaneous cases).

    For pro se filers, yes, you can file through the mail all case filings. Pro se filers can only file case opening documents through email, all other filings must be filed through the mail, in person, or through CM/ECF: for pro se filers that meet all requirements and are properly registered by the Court.

  • How do I determine if it is a Seattle or Tacoma jurisdiction?

    The jurisdiction is determined by the county in which:

    • defendants reside, or
    • defendants have their principal places of business, or
    • the claim arose.

    Exception: In cases removed from state court, jurisdiction is determined by the county where the action is pending. Refer to LCR 3(e) for further information.

    Counties in the Seattle division: Island, King, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom.

    Counties in the Tacoma division: Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, Skamania, Thurston, and Wahkiakum.

  • How do I get a judge assigned to the case?

    The judge is assigned to your case by Clerk’s Office staff after the case is opened. You will receive a Notice of Electronic Filing of the judge assignment.

  • Pay.gov is not working. Can I submit my filing fee a different way?

    Call the Attorney Case Opening Help Desk to make a credit/debit card payment over the phone.

  • How do I pay my filing fee?

    Filing fees are paid when you file your initiating document. For attorneys, you will be prompted in CM/ECF when you are filing your initiating document. For pro se filers, you must submit payment or submit a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauaperis (IFP) along with your case opening documents.

    Filing fees may be paid with:

    • Debit/Credit Card
    • ACH (online bank withdrawal)
    • Check
  • Can attorneys open their own criminal cases?

    No, neither attorneys nor pro se filers can open criminal cases electronically.

  • How do I file a sealed case?

    Sealed cases must be filed in person, this includes case opening and all subsequent filings. Sealed cases cannot be filed by mail or email and once filed, sealed cases cannot be accessed electronically.

  • What do I do if I open a case in error?

    Contact the Attorney Case Opening Help Desk for assistance.

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