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Getting Started / User Manual

All civil and criminal actions are maintained in the Case Management/Electronic Case Files system (CM/ECF), which is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week.  CM/ECF is accessed over the Internet through PACER.  The electronic filing system allows registered attorneys with Internet access and browser software to electronically file pleadings and other papers in cases, view docket sheets and court documents and  run reports.   When an attorney registers for e-filing, the attorney automatically consents to electronic service by both the Court and any opposing attorney of any electronically filed document in any action in which the registered attorney appears.  Service of an electronically filed document upon a registered attorney is deemed complete upon the transmission of a Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF), which is sent by e-mail notification from CM/ECF to that attorney.  All attorneys must file all pleadings and other papers permitted by the Federal Rules and the Local Rules of this Court electronically in all cases, with very limited exception.  All electronically filed documents must be in PDF digital format.  Unless approved for e-filing under the Pro Se E-Filing and Service Protocol, pro se parties who are not members of the bar of the Court may not file pleadings or other papers electronically, but must submit them in paper form.  Practitioners should refer to the local rules governing e-filing for guidance in electronic filing. 


A Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) account is required to view documents in any Circuit, District or Bankruptcy Court in the nation.  With the advent of NextGen, one set of PACER credentials is used to view dockets and documents in any court in the federal system, and it is also used to e-file in any NextGen court the attorney is registered in.  To obtain a PACER account, or for more information about PACER, visit the PACER web site.

Attorney Registration

Participation in electronic filing is limited to attorneys who are members of the bar of this court.  Attorneys should refer to the Attorney Registration and Account Maintenence section of this Court's website for instructions for admission and to register for e-filing.  Both the admission and registration processes start with a PACER account.  Registration culminates in attorney-specific credentials that allow e-filing access to the Western District of Michigan's CMECF system.   Registered attorneys receive electronic service of filed documents, and must keep their account and contact information up to date.

Viewing Documents

In order to view documents filed on the system, users must have PDF reader software installed on their computer.  While many PDF readers are available, Adobe Acrobat reader is a free download.


Refer to the equipment requirements page for hardware and software details.

PDF Format

Only Portable Document Format (PDF) documents are accepted by the electronic filing system.   Users must render their word processing documents into PDF format before uploading them into CM/ECF.  This reference assumes the user has a working knowledge of the word processing and PDF writing software available on the user's equipment.  Generally, most word processing programs have a PDF rendering function built in.   Alternatively, PDF writing software is commerically available wherein the user "prints" to Adobe or other software.  Additionally, freeware is available on the Internet.  While it is always a good idea for users to view their PDF file before uploading it for e-filing, this is especially important when freeware is used to produce a PDF.  Some freeware software will overlay a banner across the document advertising their product, which is not desireable for Court filings.   Rendering a word processing document into PDF digital format (using software functions to produce a PDF from a word processing document) is the best practice to present filings to the Court.  Rendered documents are text-searchable.  While documents can be scanned into PDF format, this practice should typically be reserved for documents the user did not produce, such as exhibits or attachments.


An E-Filing Tutorial is provided.  The tutorial walks participants through the filing process, allowing an opportunity to practice before making an actual filing in the live system.

Reference Document

A How to and  STEP BY STEP GUIDE to Electronic Filing  discusses the basic steps, signatures, service, and walks the filer through the e-filing of a motion.  The example of filing a motion covers most of the screens that users will encounter during the e-filing process of any document.  Additionally, the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF), filing of proposed documents and proposed orders, and more, is discussed.

Motions, Briefs and Related Filings

More details are available through this link:   Filing Motions, Briefs and Attachments

Technical Failure

The Clerk shall deem the public ECF web site to be subject to a technical failure on a given day if the site is unable to accept filings continuously or intermittently over the course of any period of time greater than one hour after 12:00 noon (Eastern Time) that day, in which case filings due that day which were not filed due solely to such technical failures shall become due the next business day.  Such delayed filings must be accompanied by a declaration or affidavt attesting to the filer's failed attempts to file electronically at least two times after noon separated by at least one hour on each day of delay because of such technical failure.  A  sample declaration/affidavit is available, as well as a log of ECF Down Time.

Further Assistance

For further assistance, or if you experience difficulty filing a document electronically, the initial point of contact should be the Court's ECF Help Desk at (616) 456-2206, toll free at (800) 290-2742, or via e-mail at  The Help Desk is staffed Monday through Friday, 8am to 5 pm, except Federal Holidays.