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FAQs: Electronic Filing
I can't seem to log in to CM/ECF. What am I doing wrong?
On August 26, 2019, the Western District of Michigan went live on the NextGen version of CM/ECF. NextGen changed the login requirements. See the additional information regarding NextGen.
What happens if the PageID cite form is not followed?
References to the record by PageID, following the proper cite form, display to the Court as a hyperlink to the precise page of the record where the evidence is found. If the proper cite form is not followed, no link will be present for the Court. Failure to provide proper PageID citations may result in the rejection of the filing. See LCivR 10.9 and LCrR 49.11.
What is the cite form for a PageID reference?
PageID Cite Form
To reference Cite form example A single page PageID.234 Multiple sequential pages PageID.234-235 Multiple pages that are not in succession PageID.234, 238, 245
Additionally, any filing that references a portion of a different Western District of Michigan case record shall be preceded with the 13-digit case number for that other case (e.g., 1:15-cv-99999 PageID.234).
The PageID is obscured, how can I see it better?
When viewing the document, it may be helpful to increase or magnify the zoom. This feature is usually found under "View" on the toolbar in many programs, by clicking a magnifying glass icon, or can be accessed through keyboard strokes:
- Hold down the Ctrl button on your keyboard, and press the plus symbol (+) on the keyboard as many times as necessary to temporarily increase the size of the view to your liking.
- To return quickly to the prior view, hold down the Ctrl button on your keyboard and press the zero (0) key once.
- Otherwise, to temporarily decrease the zoom gradually, hold down the Ctrl button and touch the dash (-) as many times to decrease the size of the view to your liking.
Where is the PageID?
The PageID is located in the blue document header of all electronically filed documents, applied by the electronic case filing system at the time of filing. It is a sequential pagination of the entire District Court record, uniquely identifying each page.
I can access a document through the NEF link, however my assistant cannot. She receives a message indicating electronic access to the document is not available.
There are security features within CM/ECF which prohibit access to documents in certain types of cases; in those cases, only counsel of record may view the filed documents. These civil cases include Social Security, naturalization application, habeas corpus alien detainee and other immigration cases. Additionally, remote electronic access to documents filed in criminal cases prior to November 1, 2004, and closed bankruptcy appeal/withdrawal cases filed prior to December 1, 2003, is not available.
There are so many choices on the menus. What is the easiest way to find something?
On the blue menu bar at the top of the screen, you'll see a Search option. Click on the word Search and a small window will appear. Enter a key word or portion thereof, and click the Search button. The system will search menus and events to find a match to your search. Each item found on the results page is an active link to the menu item, so you can click it to proceed directly to e-file the document.
How do I file a proposed order?
A proposed order may be submitted electronically, in pdf format. It can be e-filed as an attachment to a motion or stipulation, it can be within the stipulation, or it can be submitted separately. Look under Civil/Criminal as appropriate, under Other Filings, Other Documents.
Since service is accomplished electronically, do I need to file a certificate of service?
Service of an electronically filed document upon a registered attorney is deemed complete upon the transmission of a Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) to that attorney under subsection (i)(iv) of the Local Rules governing e-filing, and a separate certificate of service is not required to be filed. Traditionally filed documents must be served on registered attorneys by nonelectronic means of service, and a certificate of service should be filed (electronically) in that circumstance. Likewise, unregistered attorneys and pro se individuals must be served by nonelectronic means of service. The NEF generated at the time of filing will make service issues apparent.
I received an NEF and I'm clicking on the document hyperlink, but it looks like I'm being charged. What happened to my free look?
The Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) contains a free-look document hyperlink. The free look at the document is only available the first time the hyperlink in the e-mail is clicked. The document hyperlink in the NEF will expire after the earlier of these two events: the first use or 15 days. Any time that same hyperlink is accessed after it has expired, the user will be charged PACER fees to view the document. All users are advised to save or print the document during the initial viewing period in order to avoid future charges.
Opposing counsel just called me and referenced an order recently entered by the court. I'm registered for e-filing and I didn't receive notification of the order. I've received notification of other items in the past, what could be wrong?
There are a couple of potential problems:
- Check with your technical support staff/Internet service provider to see if SPAM or virus protection software has recently been upgraded or added. These protectors are great for reducing the amount of junk mail we receive, however they can trash a desirable e-mail on mistake and without your knowledge if not set up with important exceptions. When SPAM protectors are in place, your e-mail server first acknowledges receipt of the Court's electronic message, then trashes it. Because your server has acknowledged receipt, the Court considers service complete. Therefore it is important to make sure that email@example.com is listed as an exception to any rules that are set in the SPAM/virus protection.
- It could be that although your name was added as counsel for a party, the setting with regard to sending notice was set to no. Check the docket for the case. If "Attorney to be noticed" does not appear beneath your contact information for the party you represent, it may be that notice to you was inadvertently never set, or was subsequently turned off. Contact the ECF Help Desk and we will assist in rectifying the situation.
Who is the sender of the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF)?
All e-mail from the CM/ECF system will come from: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am having problems with my PACER account, what do I do?
While a PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) account is used in conjunction with CM/ECF, it is separate from CM/ECF and is maintained by the PACER Service Center in San Antonio, Texas. Follow the PACER Service Center link to their website, or contact them by phone at 1-800-676-6856.
My login is failing. What am I doing wrong?
The system is case sensitive. If you have CAPS lock on, your login will likely fail. Most court-issued logins contain lowercase letters, and among other requirements, passwords contain a combination of both upper and lowercase letters. Type the login and password exactly as it appears. Zero (0) and O ("oh"), as well as lowercase "l" ("el") and capital "I" ("eye") are easily confused.
I'm trying to change the secondary e-mail address in my account, but the Utility menu does not contain an option for Maintain Your E-Mail. What am I doing wrong?
(1) you have logged in to the system using your PACER login and password:
You'll be able to tell whether you are logged in as a PACER user if the blue menu bar at the top of the CM/ECF screen displays Civil and Criminal or not. If those two items are not listed on the blue bar, you are logged in as a PACER user. Click on the word Logout on the blue bar, then log back in using the e-filing login and password assigned to you by this Court.
or (2) you have used the correct e-filing login and password:
But your computer is remembering that you previously logged in using your PACER login and password and it is displaying what it remembers. You will need to Clear Cache before trying again to login.
I'm interested in filings in another case, but I don't want to/have no reason to appear in that case. Can I receive notices when filings occur in a case in which I am not involved?
Yes. For example, the rulings in another Western District of Michigan case may affect your case. You want to be immediately notified when something happens in that other case, even though you are not directly involved in that case. You can!
An Electronic Learning Module (ELM) is available on this website to walk you through monitoring a case in which you are not involved. After initiating the ELM, click the TOC (Table of Contents) button in the bottom right corner of the screen. The TOC will display. Click Monitor a Case from the list presented. To collapse the TOC, click the << in the upper right corner of the TOC. Because you are not involved in the case, your notification will be "silent," meaning your name will not appear as a recipient on the Notice of Electronic Filing that is generated when there are filings in the case. You will receive e-mail notification of each filing, however you will not receive a free look at the document (PACER fees will apply).
I've just switched e-mail service providers. How do I get my e-mail address changed?
There may be long term or short term changes that you would like to make to your account. You may have switched e-mail service providers or want a temporary change in the account to be notified. An Electronic Learning Module is available on this website to walk you through maintaining your e-mail. After logging in, click Utilities on the blue menu bar at the top of the screen. Click Maintain Your E-Mail. On that screen, update your e-mail information as appropriate, and click Submit. Continue to click Submit as prompted until you receive confirmation that the update was successful.
Can I control who gets notified electronically through my account?
When you were registered, the Court entered the address(es) provided on your E-Filing Registration form. Once registered, you can control who gets notified electronically through your account. You can change your primary e-mail address, add additional addresses, or take away those additional addresses at any time. For example, the Court recommends that each attorney set up a central repository e-mail address so that others in your office can access the Court's e-mail. This is a safeguard so that someone in your office gets notified of Court action, even if you are not in the office and your administrative assistant has the day off. We've found that attorneys typically also add their administrative assistant, a legal assistant and/or a paralegal (and sometimes another e-mail address that appears to be a personal or home account). Keep in mind that adding additional e-mail addresses to your account sends those people e-mail for every filing in every case in which you, the registered attorney, are involved. Each e-mail address will receive a free look at the document, accessed through the document hyperlink. If other attorneys, such as your partners or associates would like e-mail notification in a case, the Court suggests that they register separately and file an appearance in the particular case.
My password is a combination of letters, numbers and symbols that is difficult to remember. Can I change my password?
Yes. Changing it to something that makes sense to you is easy:
Log in to the system. On the blue bar at the top of the screen, click on the word Utilities. On the resulting menu, click Maintain Your Password. Your new password must be eight characters or more, include both uppercase and lowercase alphabetic characters, and contain at least one digit or special character. After you have decided what your new password will be, click in the password field and type in your new password. (Note: Your login must remain as it was assigned by the Court.) At the bottom of the screen, click the Submit button. Continue to click Submit as prompted until you receive confirmation that the update was successful.
Can I be exempted from e-filing?
The Court expects that all lawyers will be able to comply with the local rule and that they will have access to the necessary hardware and software. Our E-Filing Help Desk staff are ready to help lawyers with any questions or concerns they may have, and advice is available through the ECF Help Desk, (616) 456-2206, (800) 290-2742, or via e-mail at email@example.com. If the situation is such that the attorney is nevertheless contemplating an exemption, they should refer to the E-Filing Exemption Policy for guidance and requirements.
Is the system secure?
The electronic filing system has several layers of security. First, a login and password are required to access the system. Second, documents are encrypted and transmitted through Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). Last, the electronic receipt issued by the Court contains a unique validation code that works along with the portable document format to ensure that documents cannot be altered after being received by the Court.
What if something goes wrong?
While the electronic filing system is highly reliable, the Clerk's Office has established a Help Desk to assist if problems occur. The Help Desk will be staffed weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.. except Federal Holidays, and can be reached by telephone at (616) 456-2206, (800) 290-2742, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What equipment do I need?
- A computer running a Windows or a Macintosh operating system
- PDF writing software to convert documents from a word processor format to portable document format (PDF)
- A word processor
- Internet access supporting a transfer rate of 56Kbps or higher (high speed Internet is recommended)
- Browser software (Please refer to the CM/ECF login screen for the latest information on recommended versions of browser software.)
- A scanner to image documents that were not created by you (attachments/exhibits)
Which cases are best suited?
Electronic filing is suitable for nearly all civil and criminal cases. The only cases specifically excluded from electronic filing are those that are filed under seal.
Who decides if it will be used?
The Local Rules of this Court, as amended January 1, 2005, require filing and service of all documents electronically by use of the ECF system unless the attorney has been specifically exempted by the Court for cause, or a particular document is not eligible for electronic filing under the Local Rule(s).
What are the benefits?
Electronic filing streamlines the typically time-consuming and costly process of delivering legal documents to the Court and sending copies to all the parties in the litigation. The system also improves access to Court records by making documents available even when the Courthouse is otherwise closed for business. Additionally, the system provides immediate notification and service of documents filed.
Are any documents precluded from being filed electronically?
Documents that may not be filed electronically are listed in W.D. Mich. LCivR 5.7 and W.D.Mich. LCrR 49.10.
What if the document was not created on a computer?
The Court recognizes that some documents may not be available in electronic format, for example, items that are to be attached to your work product as exhibits. Nevertheless, many of those documents can be easily and inexpensively scanned for electronic filing.
What happens next?
Once the document is received by the Court, the electronic filing system:
- sends a receipt to the filer verifying that the document has been received and filed
- 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 registered attorneys associated with the case
How do I file electronically?
Registered attorneys access the Court's electronic filing system over the Internet. After establishing their identity by entering a Court-assigned login and password, attorneys enter the following information:
- The case number in which their document is being filed
- The name of the party for whom the document is being filed
- The type of document being submitted (answer, motion, etc.)
The PDF document to be filed is uploaded and is then transmitted to the Court's computer. A Notice of Electronic Filing is issued by the electronic filing system to confirm the filing and to serve other registered attorneys.
How are documents prepared?
Attorneys create documents on their own computers, using word processing software. However, instead of printing the documents out on paper and delivering them to the Court, the attorneys save the documents in a portable document format (PDF). This format allows other system users to view the documents in their original format regardless of the type of computer or word processing system originally used to create the documents or being used to view them.
Where is the CM/ECF Login?
From the main menu, click the E-Filing (CM/ECF) button on the left side of the page.