Sixth Circuit Electronic Case Filing (ECF)

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


REGISTRATION

1. Is Electronic Case Filing (ECF) mandatory in the Sixth Circuit?

2. How do I register to be a filer?

3. Do I have to register if I have a PACER account and an ECF account at another court?

4. Must I register before I can file through ECF?

5. How do I get an exemption?

6. Are there any special training or bar membership requirements in order to register and file in ECF?

7. How long does it take to register for ECF?

8. Is there any charge to register or use ECF?

9. When is the ECF system available?

10. What help is available for ECF?

11. Can an attorney authorize someone in the attorney's office (such as a paralegal) to use the attorney's login name and password to file documents in ECF?

12. While registering, I am asked to choose between HTML and Text versions of Notices of Docket Activity. What do I choose?

13. I am an attorney and would like to add a secondary email to my account so someone else can also receive notification when activity occurs in my cases. How do I add or change the secondary email?

 

FILING

1. What documents can't be filed using ECF?

2. Is there a list of Events available?

3. Do I need to send the clerk a paper copy of a document filed through ECF?

4. Can I view pro se filings through ECF and PACER?

5. What is a Notice of Docket Activity?

6. Why did I receive a second Notice of Docket Activity for my filing?

7. Does my document need a certificate of service?

8. The party or attorney on the other side isn't participating in ECF. How do I serve them?

9. Is "s/" acceptable for electronic filings?

10. Can I get a daily summary of all my notices or do I have to get a Notice of Docket Activity for every action or entry?

11. I represent a party that wants to participate in a case as an amicus or intervenor. How do I do that?

12. I want to enter my appearance. How do I do that?

13. How do you add additional attorneys to associate with the case?

14. I want to file a motion to seal a document or a case. How do I do that?

15. I made a mistake, such as filing in the wrong case or submitting the wrong document. What should I do?

16. I can't access a document in a Social Security case or an immigration matter. Is there a problem?

17. How should we file documents with multiple signatures?

18. I'm not shown as an attorney in the case, but I want to file on behalf of one of the parties in the appeal. How can I do that?

19. Can I file reimbursement requests for Criminal Justice Act appointments in ECF?

 

TECHNOLOGY

1. How secure is ECF?

2. Can I be in ECF and PACER at the same time and go back and forth between the two systems?

3. How do I generate a text searchable PDF file?

4. Why can't I login with my ECF ID and Password?

5. When I try to load the ECF Application it freezes at the black "ECF Warning: closing this window will immediately close the appellate program" screen. What's wrong?

6. I think I have logged in successfully and I have Java on my computer, but it just stays on the black "WARNING" screen. What's wrong?

7. What equipment and software do I need to file in ECF?

8. When scanning a document to be filed, at what resolution should I set my scanner?

 

REGISTRATION

1. Is ECF mandatory in the Sixth Circuit?

ECF filing is mandatory for attorneys beginning June 1, 2008 unless you ask for and are granted an exemption. Prior to June 1, 2008, ECF filing is optional. Litigants who are not attorneys will continue to file documents with the Clerk's office in paper. [BACK]

2. How do I register to be a filer?

An ECF password and login are required to file documents in ECF. The first step is obtaining an ECF password and login for the Sixth Circuit from the PACER Service Center at http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/. Or, you can use the link on the home page of our web site, www.ca6.uscourts.gov Once on the PACER site select the "Appellate ECF Filer Registration" option. The PACER Service Center can be reached by phone at 800-676-6856. [BACK]

3. Do I have to register if I have a PACER account and an ECF account at another court?

Yes. Your ECF account is an authorization to file in a specific court, and it is separate from your nationwide PACER account. You must register for every court where you intend to be a filer. [BACK]

4. Must I register before I can file through ECF?

Yes. You cannot file through ECF until you register and the court approves you as a filer. [BACK]

5. How do I get an exemption?

Exemptions for attorney filers will be granted for good cause. The court expects to grant few exemptions. If you believe you cannot participate as an ECF filer, please complete the exemption form and submit it to the clerk of court for review. You can find the exemption form here: Exemption Form [BACK]

6. Are there any special training or bar membership requirements in order to register and file in ECF?

No. You do not have to be a member of the Sixth Circuit's bar in order to register for an ECF account. But you must be a member of the Sixth Circuit's bar before your registration can be approved and before you can file a document in a case, other than your initial appearance form. If you are not a member of the bar and you submit your ECF registration you will be notified how to apply for bar membership.

There are no training requirements, but the court strongly recommends that users review the courts ECF Training Web Page before attempting to file a document.[BACK]

7. How long does it take to register for ECF?

ECF registration will usually be completed in a few hours. In exceptional situations it may take a day. When your registration is complete, you will receive an email from the PACER Service Center confirming your registration. If you have an emergency and need to file immediately, contact the clerk's office at 513-564-7000 for assistance and directions. [BACK]

8. Is there any charge to register or use ECF?

Filing documents in ECF is free. You also get one 'free look' at all filings when you view them from the Notice of Docket Activity and they can be printed or downloaded at that time. Thereafter, if you view documents through your PACER account, the normal $0.08 per page charge applies.[BACK]

9. When is the ECF system available?

ECF filing is always available except for routine or emergency maintenance. If a filing is completed before midnight Eastern Time, it will be entered on the docket that day. The court will post notices on its web site ( www.ca6.uscourts.gov ) in advance when the system will be unavailable for docketing. If you experience difficulties in filing, contact the clerk's office at 513-564-7000 from Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time. [BACK]

10. What help is available for ECF?

For help first review the court's ECF Training Web Page . It contains a wide variety of ECF information, including downloadable lessons in docketing appellate documents, a users manual and electronic training modules which are a primer to ECF for anyone not familiar with it.

If you cannot find the answer there you can contact the clerk's office for assistance with filing (513-564-7000) or CA06-ECF-Help@ca6.uscourts.gov. If you are having difficulty registering for ECF or have questions about your PACER or ECF accounts, you should contact the PACER Service Center at 800-676-6856. If you need to modify or update either your PACER or ECF accounts, you can do so at the PACER website: https://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov . The PACER Service Center maintains extensive lists of FAQs for both PACER and ECF which you can access at its website. [BACK]

11. Can an attorney authorize someone in the attorney's office (such as a paralegal) to use the attorney's login name and password to file documents in ECF?

Yes, but access should be limited and controlled since whatever is filed under that login and password is deemed to have the attorney's signature on it. [BACK]

12. While registering, I am asked to choose between HTML and Text versions of Notices of Docket Activity. What do I choose?

HTML. The hyperlinks contained in the Notice of Docket Activity (NDA) to the docket sheet and documents will not work in text versions of the NDA. [BACK]

13. I am an attorney and would like to add a secondary email to my account so someone else can also receive notification when activity occurs in my cases. How do I add or change the secondary email?

You can add a secondary account when you register for a login and password with PACER. If the account has already been created, you must update your account at the PACER website (http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov). [BACK]

 

FILING

1.What documents can't be filed using ECF?

You cannot open a new case in ECF and documents which cannot be filed through ECF are listed in Sixth Circuit Rule 25. [BACK]

2. Is there a list of Events available?

Yes, an Attorney Events List is posted on the court's web site here. [BACK]

3. Do I need to send the clerk a paper copy of a document filed through ECF?

A document filed through ECF should not also be filed in paper. For the few documents which must be filed in paper see Sixth Circuit Rule 25. [BACK]

4. Can I view pro se filings through ECF and PACER?

Yes, the clerk's office will scan all pro se filings and attach them to the correct docket entry. This will generate a Notice of Docket Activity to all parties represented by counsel in the case with a hyperlink to the scanned document. Scanned documents in any case are available through PACER. [BACK]

5. What is a Notice of Docket Activity?

A Notice of Docket Activity is an email notice which is generated when a docket transaction requires that notice be sent to attorneys, case participants or court personnel. Notices of Docket Activity can be generated when a party or attorney files a document with the clerk's office or when the court enters an order or takes other public actions in a case. If you are an ECF participant, your receipt of the Notice of Docket Activity is service of that document or order, and registration for the ECF system constitutes consent to receive service through the Notice of Docket Activity.

Generally, a Notice of Docket Activity contains a hyperlink back to court's docket sheet and the document in question. When parties receive a Notice of Docket Activity they can click on the document and get their one "free look" at the document. In the district court and bankruptcy court systems the Notice of Docket Activity is often called the Notice of Electronic Filing. [BACK]

6. Why did I receive a second Notice of Docket Activity for my filing?

The clerk's office reviews all attorney filings as part of its quality control procedures. In the event the case manager finds an error or needs to modify the docket text for the event and the filing, he/she will make the changes and send a new Notice of Docket Activity to the case participants. If you receive a second Notice of Docket Activity for a filing and cannot determine the reason for the second Notice, please call the clerk's office at 513-564-7000. [BACK]

7. Does my document need a certificate of service?

Yes. A Certificate of Service is required for all filings. Make the Certificate of Service the last page of the document. [BACK]

8. The party or attorney on the other side isn't participating in ECF. How do I serve them?

When the opposing party or attorney is not a participant, you must serve them in traditional fashion. See Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 25. You can determine who is not participating in ECF by looking at the Notice of Docket Activity sent to you. If you have questions, please review the docket sheet in PACER, which contains all address information for parties and attorneys, or contact the clerk's office for assistance. [BACK]

9. Is "s/" acceptable for electronic filings?

Yes. Please list the names of all signatories by means of an "s/" typed name for each signatory. You must also maintain a signed copy of the filed document until the appellate process is completed in the case. [BACK]

10. Can I get a daily summary of all my notices or do I have to get a Notice of Docket Activity for every action or entry?

PACER gives you the options of a daily summary or notice of each docket transaction as it occurs. The default is notice of each docket transaction, but you can change that by updating your account information at the Pacer Service Center under "Filer Account Update." If you prefer a daily summary, select "Daily Summary" instead of "Each Transaction" on the "Notice of Docket Activity Frequency" option. [BACK]

11. I represent a party that wants to participate in a case as an amicus or intervenor. How do I do that?

The court has created two special events to permit interested parties who are not case participants to file motions to intervene or to file an amicus brief. In ECF docketing, select "Motion/Stipulation" from the Event Category and then "motion to file an amicus brief" or "motion to intervene." You will be required to identify yourself and the party(ies) you represent and attach your motion. The court will review your motion and issue a ruling. If your motion is granted, you will be added as an amicus or intervenor and have filing rights in the appeal. You may then submit the brief, petition for rehearing or other document you wish to file just like other parties in the case. [BACK]

12. I want to enter my appearance. How do I do that?

You must be an authorized appellate ECF user with a valid Sixth Circuit ECF login and password to file an Appearance Form or any other pleading. Authorized users may complete the appearance form found at the "Forms" section of the court's website. Save the form to your computer and attach it in PDF format to the "Appearance Filed" event in the court's ECF system. [BACK]

13. How do you add additional attorneys to associate with the case?

Each attorney who wishes to be added to a case should file an appearance of counsel. The clerk's office will review the appearance of counsel and add counsel to the case. [BACK]

14. I want to file a motion to seal a document or a case. How do I do that?

Currently, you must file your motion to seal and your proposed sealed materials in paper format. The clerk's office will process the motion and create the docket entries associated with the filing. Please state in the text of the motion whether the motion to seal must be sealed. [BACK]

15. I made a mistake, such as filing in the wrong case or submitting the wrong document. What should I do?

You cannot delete events or documents. If you have made an error (filed in the wrong case, submitted the wrong version of a document, etc.), call the clerk's office. Our office will delete the document and change the docket text to reflect that the event has been modified. You may then refile the document using the regular ECF filing procedures. [BACK]

16. I can't access a document in a Social Security case or an immigration matter. Is there a problem?

No. Remote electronic access to documents in Social Security cases and immigration matters is limited to the attorneys or parties other than orders and opinions in the case in order to protect the privacy of the individuals involved in those cases. You may inspect these files in person in the clerk's office. If you are a party or attorney in the case, you can access documents in these cases only through use of your ECF Filer ID and Password. [BACK]

17. How should we file documents with multiple signatures?

Documents requiring signatures of more than one party may be electronically filed in any of the following ways: (a) submitting a scanned document containing all necessary signatures; (b) representing the consent of the other parties on the document; (c) identifying on the document the parties whose signatures are required and submitting a notice of endorsement by the other parties no later than three business days after filing; or (d) any other manner approved by the Court. [BACK]

18. I'm not shown as an attorney in the case, but I want to file on behalf of one of the parties in the appeal. How can I do that?

The clerk's office relies on the Notice of Appeal, docketing materials and district court docket sheet when it opens a new appeal and sets up the party and attorney information. In some instances that information is not complete or changes after the case is docketed, and you may need to be added as an attorney in the case. Until you are added as an attorney in the case, you will not receive Notices of Docket Activity and you cannot file any document other than Appearance Form.

If you submit an Appearance Form, the clerk's office will complete the steps required to enter you as an attorney and authorized filer in the appeal. When this work is completed, you will receive a Notice of Docket Activity confirming your entry. At that point, you can file pleadings through ECF. Remember, you must always register with the PACER Service Center as an appellate filer and receive an ECF login and password before you can use ECF. [BACK]

19. Can I file reimbursement requests for Criminal Justice Act appointments in ECF?

No, counsel should submit their requests for reimbursements and copies of receipts in paper to the clerk's office. [BACK]

 

TECHNOLOGY

1. How secure is ECF?

ECF has many security features and has passed an evaluation by the National Security Agency. However, in registering as an ECF filer, you agree to protect the security of your password. Contact the PACER Service Center (800-676-6856) and the clerk's office (513-564-7000) immediately if you learn that your password has been compromised. [BACK]

2. Can I be in ECF and PACER at the same time and go back and forth between the two systems?

Yes. ECF and PACER are separate and require separate logins and passwords. [BACK]

3. How do I generate a text searchable PDF file?

Current versions of Word and WordPerfect include the capability to convert your text documents to PDF. You may also use Adobe Acrobat Writer or download free PDF conversion software from any source of your choosing including, www.adobe.com, www.cutepdf.com, www.pdf995.com, or www.pdfstore.com. Interactive on-line training on converting Word or WordPerfect Documents to PDF is available at

http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/ecfcbt/dc/cccnvtpdf/ .

Please note that employees of the Court cannot convert files to PDF format for you, nor can they accept emailed submissions and post them for you. If you have problems uploading a document, you may call the clerk's office for help at 513-564-7000. [BACK]

4. Why can't I login with my ECF ID and Password?

Go to https://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/cmecf/ea-login.pl and change the password on your account. [BACK]

5. When I try to load the ECF Application it freezes at the black "ECF Warning: closing this window will immediately close the appellate program" screen. What's wrong?

In nearly every instance, the reason for this is that the user's computer does not have the Java plug-in loaded as a software application for you browser. The Google Toolbar, which is installed with Java, must be removed from your system or you will encounter problems with ECF. Finally, you must have any internet pop-up blockers disabled in order for ECF to work properly. [BACK]

6. I think I have logged in successfully and I have Java on my computer, but it just stays on the black "WARNING" screen. What's wrong?

After a successful login, the ECF menu could take up to 2 minutes to load. If after 2 minutes you still don't get the ECF menu, call the PACER Service Center at 800-676-6856. [BACK]

7. What equipment and software do I need to file in ECF?

You need a PC or a Mac, a good internet connection, a browser (Internet Explorer 6 or Mozilla Firefox), Adobe Writer (not Adobe Reader), and the Java Plug-in for your browser.

You must have Java. If you do not have Java on your computer (or if you aren't sure if you do) go to www.java.com. You will note that there is a question/link next to the "Free Java Download" button which asks "Do I have Java?". If you are not sure whether you have it, this link will run a diagnostic check on your computer and let you know whether it is already loaded. If you need to download or update Java, simply click the "Free Java Download" button and follow the directions on the subsequent pages. The Java download is free, and the program takes only a few minutes to load.

Sixth Circuit Appellate CM/ECF version 2.1.1 will now operate on a 64-bit Intel Mac with the Apple-supplied Java 1.6. You must; however, access the system via the Mac-identified link on a court’s web page. The login alerts, messages and user actions may differ slightly between Safari and Firefox. If your web browser is Firefox, each time you attempt to access CM/ECF you may have to respond to the question, "What should Firefox do with this file?” Select “Open” to proceed with logging in. When logging in with Safari for the first time, you must also respond to this question, however, with each subsequent login, the Java Web Start will begin downloading and launching the application automatically.

Apple has not released a 32-bit version of Java 1.6 for the Mac. Until such a version is available, 32-bit Macs will require additional software such as Fusion, Parallels, or Bootcamp that will allow Windows to run on a Mac. 32-bit Mac users with one of these Windows emulation software packages can access Appellate CM/ECF via the application link for all PC users on a court’s web page. (Note: Current versions of Fusion and Parallels require an Intel-based Mac.) [BACK]

8. When scanning a document to be filed, at what resolution should I set my scanner?

It is recommended that any paper document that an attorney intends to file in ECF should be scanned at 300 pixels per inch (ppi) or higher. This is to ensure that the scan produces a high quality document with a file size that did not hamper the length of time it takes to scan, load, and retrieve documents. This standard is recommended by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Court at the request of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). NARA is responsible for the archival preservation of the court’s electronic documents.

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