|FAQ: (Sub-topics listed below...)|
Administrative Procedures for Electronic Case Filing--PDF format (Acrobat Reader required). These procedures supplement the federal rules of procedure and the district's local rules and address numerous electronic filing issues.
An attorney must register with both PACER and ECF in order to file documents electronically. An attorney admitted to the Bar of this court, including an attorney admitted pro hac vice, may register for ECF.
Attorneys admitted to the bar of this court must attend a workshop held by the court before being admitted. See Attorney Admissions
Hands on training is available to attorneys and support staff. Requests for hands on training should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Computer-Based Training Modules (CBTS) (Are available on the PACER website)
1. How many users can submit documents at once?
ANSWER: There is no fixed limit.
2. How many people at a time may view a document? How many people at a time may view the docket?
ANSWER: There are no limitations for either function.
3. Will the creator of the docket entry be identified?
ANSWER: Yes. All entries can be identified by the name of the person that logged in and submitted the entry. Whether and how a person's name appears in a docket entry may be determined by the court (e.g., full name, initials, etc.).
4. Is there a limit to the number of aliases a party may have?
5. How will signature of documents be handled for documents filed electronically?
ANSWER: The user log-in and password required to submit documents to the Electronic Filing System serve as the Filing User's signature on all documents filed with the Court. They also server as a signature for purposes of Rule 11, Fed. R. Civ. P., the Local Rules of the Court, and any other purpose for which a signature is required in connection with court proceedings. The name of the Filing User under whose log-in and password the document is submitted must he preceded by an "/s/" and typed in the space where the signature would otherwise appear. A Filing User who electronically files any document requiring the signature of other individuals must either (1) submit a scanned document containing the necessary signatures; or (2) indicate on the filed document by the designation "/s/" that the original document has been signed. The original document containing the original signatures of the persons other then the Filing User must be retained. See Administrative Procedures for Electronic Case Filing
6. What technical expertise is required?
ANSWER: CM/ECF is easy to learn and requires little technical experience to use. The basic technical skills needed are familiarity with using Windows, a web browser, Adobe Acrobat, a scanner and email.
|System Capabilities - Other|
1. How does CM/ECF handle sealed records?
IMPORTANT: In response to recent disclosures of widespread breaches of both private sector and government computer systems, federal courts are adding new security procedures to protect “Highly Sensitive Documents” (“HSDs”) filed with the courts. At this time, we have no confirmation of direct impact to the Southern District of Texas. For procedures for filing, service, and management of district court HSDs refer to General Order 2021-03, and for bankruptcy HSDs refer to General Order 2021-1.
ANSWER: Effective January 1, 2007 our administrative procedures for electronic filing allow electronic filing of sealed documents. The procedures require that certain documents, which were previously filed under seal at the discretion of the filing party, now always must be filed under seal. View Section 6C(1) Administrative Procedures. More detailed information on filing sealed documents and exhibits.
2. How does CM/ECF handle ex parte filings or pleadings that are otherwise sensitive in nature?
ANSWER: In criminal cases, attorneys may file ex parte documents and motions using the Exparte Document and Exparte Motion events under the Sealed Events category. In civil cases, attorneys should file sensitive ex parte documents using a Sealed Event that most closely matches the type of document being filed. Other documents may be filed using the Sealed Document or Sealed Exhibits events, and accompanied by a Motion to Seal with a proposed order that will not be sealed and should not contain sensitive information.
|Specifics for Attorneys|
1. Can an attorney add new attorneys to the database?
ANSWER: Only court staff with appropriate permissions may add attorneys to the database as system users.
2. What should an attorney or court user do if the document he or she is filing is not listed in the pick list?
ANSWER: Each court maintains its own event dictionary. If a user wishes to file a document that is not listed in the pick list, they can choose "other" and text in the type of document.
3. Is CM/ECF browser specific?
4. Is CM/ECF word processor specific?
ANSWER: No, you may use any word processor that can convert documents to PDF.
5. Can the general public view CM/ECF cases and the documents in those cases?
ANSWER: Access to view cases and documents in CM/ECF will be available to anyone with a PACER login and password. PACER offers convenient electronic access to case file documents, listing of all case parties, reports of case related information, chronologies of events entered in the case record, listing of new cases. However, as a result of the policy recently adopted by the Judicial Conference, the public cannot view documents filed in Civil Social Security Appeal cases or Criminal cases.
To defray the costs of PACER and CM/ECF, the Judicial Conference has set a fee which applies to all users, although courts may exempt certain persons, such as indigents or bankruptcy case trustees. Parties entitled to documents as part of the legal process receive a free electronic copy, although they will be charged for replacement copies, whether in paper or electronic form. The public may view CM/ECF case files for free on the public terminals located in the Clerk's Office.
6. Will submitting a long document monopolize the system to the detriment of other users? How long will it take to transmit/receive lengthy documents?
ANSWER: A user submitting a large document to CM/ECF will not interfere with other users' access. The system uses web-based technology which is designed to service large numbers of users simultaneously.
The time it takes to transmit or receive a document primarily depends on the user's Internet Service Provider (ISP), modem speed, and the size of PDF file being transmitted or received. Generally, the larger the file, the longer it will take to load. Our procedural order will limit the size of documents that can be filed. In most instances, however, the size of the document will not be restricted by the electronic filing process.
The CM/ECF system will accept both text and image PDF files. The text PDF file is usually the result of saving a document from a word processor in PDF format using Adobe Acrobat PDFWriter. The image PDF file is usually created by scanning a paper document in PDF format. The text file can be transmitted to the CM/ECF application faster than the image file because it is much smaller in size. While the difference in speed is usually not noticeable in a 1 or 2 page document, the difference can be significant when a document reaches about 20 pages in length.
7. How will signature of documents be handled for documents filed electronically?
ANSWER: The user log-in and password required to submit documents to the Electronic Filing System serve as the Filing User's signature on all documents filed with the Court. They also server as a signature for purposes of Rule 11, Fed. R. Civ. P., the Local Rules of the Court, and any other purpose for which a signature is required in connection with court proceedings. The name of the Filing User under whose log-in and password the document is submitted must he preceded by an "/s/" and typed in the space where the signature would otherwise appear. A Filing User who electronically files any document requiring the signature of other individuals must either (1) submit a scanned document containing the necessary signatures; or (2) indicate on the filed document by the designation "/s/" that the original document has been signed. The original document containing the original signatures of the persons other then the Filing User must be retained. See Administrative Procedures
8. What happens if a document is filed in error?
ANSWER: Contact the CM/ECF Helpdesk for further instructions.