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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.
WHAT IF THE DOCUMENT WAS NOT CREATED ON A COMPUTER?
The Court seeks to have as many documents as reasonably possible filed electronically. The Court recognizes, however, that some documents may not be available in electronic format-for example, certain medical records. Nevertheless, many of those documents can be easily and inexpensively scanned for electronic filing. Documents or objects that cannot be scanned reasonably will be filed and served in the traditional manner. Advance planning will help avoid the need to make last minute decisions on such matters.
INFORM THE COURT OF E-MAIL ADDRESS CHANGES
Attorneys are strongly encouraged to keep their CM/ECF e-mail notification address up to date. Failure to do so will result in notice of filings from other parties, as well as from the court, to be misdirected. Attorneys can review, and modify, their e-mail notification setup specifications themselves using the "Set Up E-mail Notification" feature of CM/ECF. Attorneys should also inform the Clerk's Office in writing of any change of name, address, phone number, fax number or e-mail address so that all its records may be updated appropriately.
CONSIDERATIONS WHEN AN ATTORNEY LEAVES A FIRM
When an attorney leaves a firm, both the attorney and the firm need to consider the implications to the CM/ECF noticing system. If cases will move with the attorney, all the attorney needs to do is to change his/her e-mail notification set up and submit a change of address to the Clerk's Office. If cases will remain with the firm, the firm will need to ensure that the Court docket accurately reflects the proper attorney of record and that the new attorney of record is properly set up to receive e-mail notification. Law firms may also wish to consider the best method of handling e-mail addressed to the firm for the departed attorney. Summarily removing the attorney from the firm's e-mail system with no further action, may result in notifications being missed. Firms may wish to consider whether their own e-mail systems should forward such e-mails to the attorney at his/her new address, or to another attorney within the firm. Naturally, these are issues that should be worked out between the departing attorney and the firm and will vary from case to case.
DIRECTING E-MAIL NOTICES TO MULTIPLE ADDRESSES
Attorneys frequently list multiple e-mail addresses (primary and secondary) when setting up their e-mail notification preferences so that staff members or clients can also be notified of filings electronically. Tip sheets for configuring primary and secondary e-mail addresses are available on the Court's web site.
Firms should be aware that e-mail notices can be redirected or rejected at several steps between the mailing of the notice by the CM/ECF system and the ultimate receipt by the user. The Court has learned of instances where a law firm's Internet Service Provider (ISP) or a law firm's own network, has rejected notices sent by the court as "spam." This has typically happened in instances where attorneys have listed multiple e-mail addresses in their e-mail notification set-up. When multiple addresses are entered, the CM/ECF system sends out a single message, with cc's. Some ISP's and firm networks deliver the message to the first e-mail address, but not to the others. Occasionally, all messages seem to have been rejected. If you suspect that this is happening to your firm, contact your network administrator and/or your ISP, in addition to the Court's help desk, to see what options are available to you. A future enhancement coming to the CM/ECF system will change the method of mailing messages to multiple addresses by using cc's, to sending each message individually. That may resolve many issues related to this problem.