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System requirements are minimal and inexpensive. All that is needed are:
• a personal computer (PC clone / Apple Macintosh),
• an Internet connection
• a modern browser
• Adobe Acrobat Reader and PDF writing software
• a scanner (optional) for imaging documents which do not exist in electronic format
Attorneys must be admitted to practice in the Northern District of Ohio in order to file electronically.
Attorneys must also register in advance before filing electronically in order to obtain a CM/ECF Identification Name and Password which will provide attorney level access to the system and serve as the attorney's signature for all electronically filed documents for purposes of Fed. R. Civ. P. 11.
All users must have a PACER User Account in order to retrieve documents electronically over the Internet (see details below).
PACER (PUBLIC ACCESS TO COURT ELECTRONIC RECORDS) ACCOUNTS REQUIRED
CM/ECF users are now required to have a PACER account, in addition to a CM/ECF identification name and password, to access the system. While most law firms already have a PACER account for use by their docketing staff, attorneys will need to become aware of their firm's PACER id and password, or obtain a PACER id and password of their own, to access documents from the CM/ECF system.
PACER accounts can be established through the PACER Service Center: http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/
PACER Service Center
P.O. Box 780549
San Antonio, TX 78278
CM/ECF ACCESS FEES
As directed by Congress, the Judicial Conference has determined that the following fees are necessary to reimburse expenses incurred by the judiciary in providing electronic public access to court records. Access to court documents costs $0.08 per page. The cost to access a single document is capped at $2.40, the equivalent of 30 pages. The cap does not apply to name searches, reports that are not case-specific and transcripts of federal court proceedings. By Judicial Conference policy, if your usage does not exceed $10 in a quarter, fees for that quarter are waived, effectively making the service free for most users. No fees are charged for filing documents and attorneys of record will receive the first copy of documents in their cases for free, as long as they retrieve the document within 15 days of filing. Attorneys of record can avoid the fees altogether by either printing the documents or saving them to their own disk when the get their first free look. There is an electronic print fee of $0.10 per page, for printing copies of any record or document accessed electronically at a public terminal in the courthouse. Fees are subject to change. All questions regarding fees and the PACER billing mechanism should be directed to the PACER Service Center (see contact information above).
The CM/ECF system provides:
• 24 hour access to file or view documents
• immediate creation of docket entries
• immediate access to updated docket sheets and to the documents themselves
• upon the filing of any new document, e-mail notices are automatically sent to the other parties in the case
• potential elimination of paper files that can be misplaced or lost
• potential savings in copying, courier and noticing costs
There are a variety of training options for those interested in learning more about CM/ECF. Tips sheets and training materials are available online on the Court's web site. In conjunction with local bar associations, the Court frequently presents CLE training programs related to electronic filing. In addition, the Clerk's Office regularly offers demonstrations and hands on training at its court houses. The Clerk's Office is also willing, on a limited basis, to send trainers to provide demonstrations or hands on training at law firms. Call the Clerk's Office for more details or to make arrangements for training:
• Akron: 330-252-6015
• Cleveland: 216-357-7007
• Toledo: 419-213-5500
• Youngstown: 330-884-7419
While the electronic filing system has proven to be highly reliable and relatively easy to use, the Clerk's Office has established a Help Desk (1-800-355-8498) to assist if problems occur. The Help Desk is staffed weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. (eastern standard time), and is available at all other times to record voice mail messages.
HOURS OF FILING
Electronic filing extends the time in which attorneys can file beyond the clerk's office's typical intake hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The system is available for filing and retrieving documents 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, with minor exceptions for normal system maintenance. Be aware, however, that help desk assistance is only available form the Clerk's Office during normal business hours: from 8:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and those seeking to make after hours filings do so at their own risk.
PREPARING DOCUMENTS FOR FILING ELECTRONICALLY
Attorneys create documents on their own computers just as they do now. However, instead of printing the documents on paper and delivering them to the Court, the attorneys save the documents in a portable document format (Adobe Acrobat PDF) that allows other system users to view the documents in their original format, regardless of the type of computer or word processing system that was used to create the documents or is being used to view them.
Attorneys access the Court's electronic filing system over the Internet. After establishing their identity by entering a Court assigned user identification name and password, attorneys enter the case number in which their document is to be filed, the name of the party for whom the document is being filed and the type of document being submitted (answer, answer with cross-claim, etc.). The document is then transmitted to the Court's computer. Once the document is received by the Court, the electronic filing system:
• Sends a receipt to the sender verifying that the document has been received.
• Updates the docket sheet.
• Makes the updated docket sheet and the document itself immediately available to anyone with access to the system.
• Sends a notice of the filing to all parties who have agreed to receive electronic notice.