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CM/ECF FAQs

  • Do I have to open my civil case electronically?

    It is mandatory for attorneys to open civil cases electronically (Exceptions: sealed and miscellaneous cases).

    Pro se filers must file civil cases in person or via mail or email.

  • What types of information do I need to redact?

    In compliance with Fed. R. Civ. P. 5.2, Fed. R. Crim. P. 49.1, and WAWD Local Rule CR 5.2, all filers must redact:

    • Dates of birth: redact to the year of birth, unless deceased.
    • Names of minor children: redact to the initials, unless deceased or currently over the age of 18.
    • Social security numbers or taxpayer identification numbers: redact in their entirety.
    • Financial accounting information: redact to the last four digits.
    • Passport numbers and driver license numbers: redact in their entirety.
    • Home addresses in criminal cases: redact to the city and state.
  • I made a mistake in my filing, how do I correct it?

    The data you enter during the filing process is not submitted to the court until you commit your filing and see the Notice of Electronic Filing screen.

    If you enter incorrect information or attach an incorrect document prior to commiting your filing or paying a fee, you can reset your filing transaction by selecting Civil or Criminal in the CM/ECF menu bar. This will remove all events, documents and parties entered previously.

    If you need to make a correction after you have already committed your filing or you made a mistake during case opening after submitting payment, contact CM/ECF Support for assistance.

  • I can’t find the filing event for my document. What event should I use?

    You can search for available events by clicking Search in the CM/ECF menu bar and entering key words in the search box. CM/ECF provides a list of matching events/menus that include all of your search criteria (in any order).

    For example, searching for Complaint Amended will return the Amended Complaint and Amended Answer to Complaint events; however, searching for Answer to Complaint Amended will only return the Amended Answer to Complaint event.

    If you cannot find an event that matches your document exactly, select one that most closely describes the intent of your pleading. If you are unable to find a close match, you may use a generic event like Motion for Miscellaneous Relief or Notice – Other, which allow you to describe your pleading in the docket text.

  • How do I file a motion/document/declaration or other event in CM/ECF?

    Go to the E-filing Instructions and tools page for more detailed filing instructions.

  • Can I file audio files in CM/ECF?

    No, you may only file PDF documents in CM/ECF. For instructions on how to file Non-PDF items, review Filing a Non-PDF item (Such as a DVD or Audio CD).

  • How do I convert a paper document to PDF?

    Scan the document in black and white at 200 dots per inch (DPI), unless color is an integral aspect of the document.

  • Can I upload word documents in CM/ECF?

    No, you may only upload PDF documents in CM/ECF.  Users must also have the ability to create and read PDF documents. A free PDF reader is available for download, but the court does not recommend specific PDF software. 

  • How can I check how large my PDF is before filing in CM/ECF?

    To check your document's file size, open the document in Acrobat. Then select File > Document Properties and look under Description. File sizes are listed in kilobytes (KB); about 1000kb equals 1 megabyte (MB).

  • What is the maximum allowable file size for documents filed in CM/ECF?

    Each document/attachment included in your filing must not exceed 75 megabytes (MB).  If your document/attachment is greater than 75 MB, it must be divided into smaller documents/attachments, with each not exceeding the 75 MB limit and labeled appropriately (e.g., Exhibit 1 – Part 1, Exhibit 2 – Part 2).

  • I get an error message when I upload my document. How do I address this?

    CM/ECF may reject your document for various reasons and will usually indicate the problem in the error message. These are common issues that may result in your document being rejected:

    • Your document exceeds the 75 MB limit. Your document must be divided into smaller documents, with each document not exceeding the 75 MB limit and labeled appropriately (e.g., Exhibit 1 – Part 1, Exhibit 2 – Part 2).
    • Your document is not a PDF or does not include the .pdf extension in the document name. CM/ECF only accepts PDF documents with the proper file extension.
    • Your document is malformed or contains code that cannot be uploaded to CM/ECF. Some metadata, hyperlinks, executable code, etc. can cause CM/ECF to reject your document. Print your document to PDF and submit the document again.
    • Your document has security measures (e.g., password protection) in effect. Deactivate Adobe Acrobat security features, save the file, and submit the document again.
  • Why don’t I see PDF headers when I view documents?

    PDF headers are controlled by your CM/ECF account settings. Go to Utilities > Maintain Your Account and check the Add Headers to PDF Documents box.

  • The document number in the Notice of Electronic Filing isn’t a hyperlink. How can I access the document?

    If the document number isn’t a hyperlink, it means there is no underlying document attached and the text of the docket entry itself is the official court record.

  • Why am I prompted for my PACER credentials when I click on hyperlinks in the Notice of Electronic Filing?

    Some documents are restricted to case participants (e.g., the documents in Social Security and Immigration cases) and require you to sign in to establish that you are a case participant and authorized to view the document.

    Another possibility is that the “free look” associated with the document is no longer valid, so you must enter your PACER credentials for billing purposes. The “free look” could be invalid for several reasons:

    • You have already used the “free look.” The first time you access a document using the hyperlink in a Notice of Electronic Filing, you use up your one “free look.” Every subsequent attempt to access the document using the link is subject to PACER fees.
    • You double-clicked on the document hyperlink. Always single-click on document hyperlinks; otherwise, the first click uses up your “free look.”
    • The “free look” has expired because you are attempting to access the document outside of the 14-day “free look” period.
  • Why do I see a blank page when I try to open a document via the hyperlink in the Notice of Electronic Filing?

    This can happen due to the software you are using to view PDFs or the PDF settings you have set in the browser. Possible solutions:

    • Reinstall the software used to view PDFs or update it to the most recent version.
    • If you are viewing PDFs in the browser, view the document using your PDF reader instead (and vice versa).
    • Try accessing the document using a different browser.
    • Disable unused browser add-ons/extensions related to viewing PDFs.

    If none of these solutions work for you, contact CM/ECF Support.

  • CM/ECF froze or timed out before I could complete my filing. What should I do?

    If you did not receive a Notice of Electronic Filing, it means your filing wasn’t received by the CM/ECF system and you will have to start over. To prevent the submission of incomplete or duplicate data, do not use the browser back button to start over; instead, do one of the following:

    • If CM/ECF is completely unresponsive:
      1. Clear your browser cache.
      2. Restart your browser (i.e., close all browser windows and reopen a new one).
      3. Log into CM/ECF and start over.
    • If the CM/ECF menu bar is accessible, select Civil or Criminal (depending on what you are filing), and start over.
  • How do I clear the browser cache?

    The process for clearing the cache depends on the browser you are using. Visit your browser’s support site for instructions.

  • Why is CM/ECF so slow sometimes?

    CM/ECF performance is impacted by the following:

    • The volume of users accessing the system. CM/ECF typically has the highest network traffic in the afternoon.
    • Problems with your Internet connection.
    • The size of the document you are trying to download/upload.
    • The contents of your browser cache. If it is taking up too much disk space or contains outdated/corrupt files, it could cause display/functionality problems. Try clearing your cache and refreshing the page.
  • Can I access CM/ECF on a mobile device?

    CM/ECF is accessible on any device with a web browser and Internet connection; however, it has not been optimized for mobile use and you may experience display or functionality issues.

  • How do I select multiple parties when filing a document?

    Hold down the Control key and click on the appropriate parties under "Select the Party."

    If you are using a Mac, press the OSX Command Key (⌘), and click on multiple parties under "Select the Party."

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