CM/ECF Frequently Asked Questions


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General Issues



Can you change my or my associate's email address for me?
Each attorney is responsible for maintaining his/her own CM/ECF account information, including law firm affilitation, street and telephone information, and email addresses. NOTE: certain street addresses (including law firm affiliations) can not be changed by the user. If the attorney is unable to update that information, send an email to the CM/ECF Help Desk at ecfhelp@mad.uscourts.gov - they will be able to assist you.

Do I need to use a client code when logging into PACER or ECF?
From the PACER Service Center: The client code field is an optional feature that can be used to help track groups of transactions. For those firms or individuals not interested in this feature the field can be left blank. If the field is used it will accept up to thirty-two characters of text. This feature can be useful to those firms who are doing work for multiple clients and would like to have those transactions grouped separately for their own internal billing process.

How do I know what entry to use?
CM/ECF contains literally hundreds of entries (also called events). To find the proper event to use, click on Search on the blue menu bar and enter some portion of the entry you wish to file. If one exists, the system will respond with a link to the menu, and the event. You may proceed with your electronic entry as normal.

How do I register for Electronic Case Filing (ECF) in the District of Massachusetts?
You must complete an ECF Registration form. You can get this form online at www.mad.uscourts.gov under Case Information -> Electronic Filing (CM/ECF) -> CM/ECF Registration Form. You may register electronically or fill in and print the PDF version of the ECF registration. See Page 5 of the ECF User's Manual or page 3 of the ECF Administrative Procedures for more detailed information on the eligibility requirements for ECF in the District of Massachusetts.

How do I sign my documents?
"The user log-in and password required to submit documents to the ECF system shall serve as that user's signature for purposes of Fed.R.Civ.P.11 and for all other purposes under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Local Rules of this court. All electronically filed documents must include a signature block and must set forth the attorney's name, Bar number, address, telephone number and e-mail address. The name of the ECF user under whose log-in and password the document is submitted must be preceded by a ""/s/"" and typed in the space where the signature would otherwise appear. (See CM/ECF Administrative Procedures, Section J)"

I am having problems logging in with the information that was provided to me. Every time I type in the password, the system tells me that it is incorrect or that I can cancel or continue. Can you please check my account and let me know why I keep getting an error when I use it.
If you are seeing a message that your login and/or password is incorrect, check that you are typing your user name and password exactly as it was displayed when it was sent to you. If you are presented with a screen that says you may already be logged in and gives you an option to continue or cancel, you should click on 'continue' which will log you in and bring you to the main CM/ECF page. We suggest that you routinely clear out your 'temporary internet files' and delete your 'cookies', to prevent any logins issues from happening. If you are using Internet Explorer or Firefox, you can set your options to do this automatically each time you close your browser. If you are using Netscape, you need to clear them manually. NOTE: once logged into CM/ECF, you may see a second login screen if you have clicked on a hyperlink to a docket sheet or document. To prevent seeing the PACER screen, follow the directions later in this FAQ page for help on linking your PACER account to your CM/ECF account.

How do I sign and file an affidavit?
See CM/ECF Administrative Procedures Section J.3: Except as provided in subsection H(2)(e), affidavits shall be filed electronically; however, the electronically filed version must contain a "/s/ name of signatory" block indicating that the paper document bears an original signature. The filing attorney shall retain the original for future production, if necessary, for two (2) years after the expiration of the time for filing a timely appeal.

I registered for ECF and have begun to receive e-mails with the Notice of Electronic Filing but I have not received a login and password yet. What do I do?
First, check with your IT support to make sure that mail from CM/ECFregistrar@mad.uscourts.gov is allowed to come through your mail server. Then click the Lost Password link on the CM/ECF login page. You will be able to rset your password there.

I registered for ECF but I have not received a login and password. How can I check on this?
We are processing requests for ECF logins and reconciling attorney admissions information with ECF applications as soon as possible after receipt. Generally, logins and passwords are issued within 10 business days of our receipt of the application. In order to be eligible for an ECF login in the District of Massachusetts, you must have re-registered for attorney admission if you were previously admitted to the U.S.D.C. bar for the District of Massachusetts or you must have been allowed to appear pro hac vice, or you represent the United States Government. Also, you must make sure that your mail server allows mail to arrive from CMecfRegistrar@mad.uscourts.gov and ECFNotice@mad.uscourts.gov.

What happens when I am on vacation and I don't have access to e-mail?
You can add additional e-mail addresses to your account, so that another staff member may monitor the filings in your absence. You can also modify your e-mail user account to receive a daily summary rather than a notice for each filing, thus cutting down on the number of emails you'll have in your inbox upon your return.

What is CM/ECF?
CM/ECF is the Case Management/Electronic Case Files project is a joint project of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and the federal courts to replace existing case management systems with a new system based on current technology, new software and increased functionality. This system gives federal courts the ability to maintain electronic case files and offer electronic filing of court documents over the Internet. You can find information about the CM/ECF Project on a national level by going to the U.S. Courts website at http://www.uscourts.gov

What should we do when an attorney leaves the 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.

Where is the Notice of Removal entry?
The Notice of Removal, for technical reasons, is found in the "Notices" menu.

How do I get a summons when I file a new case?
On December 3, 2007, the Clerk's Office implemented a new procedure for the electronic issuing of summons in civil cases through the Electronic Case Files (ECF) system. A general summons for each case which includes the case caption, court seal and electronic signature will be sent to the plaintiffs/attorneys to be completed for service. Plaintiffs/attorneys no longer will need to prepare and submit a summons form with the complaint when a case is filed electronically. The summons form will be attached to the summons issued docket entry and a link to the form will be included in the notice of electronic filing (NEF). Prior to service of the summons, the required information (the name and address of each defendant and the attorney/party to be served with the answer) must be added to the summons form for each defendant. This information can be added to the portable document format (PDF) using the typewriter tool in Adobe Acrobat. For those plaintiffs/attorneys who do not receive notices of electronic filing, a summons form will be mailed to them.

How do I file my executed summons?
Once service has been made, complete the reverse side of the summons. Either scan the summons into a PDF document, or, if already in electronic format, convert it to PDF. File using the proper event in CM/ECF.

How do I file a new civil case?
All new civil cases (not filed under seal) are to be filed electronically. See Local Rule 5.4. A document is available on the Court's CM/ECF website with detailed instructions.

What documents can not be filed electronically?
See the Court's CM/ECF Administrative Procedures, Section H.1: the following documents shall be filed only on paper: sealed documents; administrative records in social security cases and in other administrative review proceedings; the state court record and other Rule 5 materials in habeas corpus cases filed in 28 U.S.C. § 2254 proceedings; ex parte motions and applications; pretrial hearing and trial exhibits; and medical records.

What if I make a mistake when filing a document?
Please contact the docket and/or courtroom deputy clerk assigned to the presiding Judicial Officer. They will best be able to assist you.

How do I pay my filing fee?
CM/ECF will prompt the user for credit card information during the filing of any transaction requiring a fee.

How do I file documents filed as part of the mediation process?
All documents filed as part of the mediation (alternative dispute resolution) program must be filed directly with the mediator. Generally, the notice of hearing will provide information on how to file these documents. Mediation documents ARE NOT filed through CM/ECF.

Is CM/ECF mandatory?
Yes. See Local Rule 5.4

May I file a notice of appearance for another attorney?
No. Each attorney must file his/her own notice of appearance, using his/her own CM/ECF login and password.

I am admitted pro hac vice? May I register to use CM/ECF?
Yes. Complete the online registration form found on the Court's web page. Be sure to specify that you are admitted pro hac vice, and include that case number.

I filed an appearance in a case, but have since the left the firm. What do I need to do to stop receiving notices?
Please file a notice of withdrawal of appearance.

I am filing a civil case with many parties. Do I add them all?
Yes. All parties are to be added to the case by the filing attorney, in the order listed on the complaint.

I have a box full of exhibits. Must they all be filed electronically?
The Court permits documents that are too large, or that can not be converted to PDF to be filed on paper. See CM/ECF Administrative Procedures, Section M

The law firm I work for is merging with another firm. How do I update my contact information?
To update law firm and/or address information, log into CM/ECF and go to the Utilities menu. Click on "Maintain Your Account" and update the information. Be sure to click on "Submit" when prompted until the system displays a screen showing the updates. NOTE: Due to system configurations, some attorneys are unable to update their firm and street information. In those situations, attorneys are asked to send a notice of change of address to the Clerk's Office Bar Liaison.

I filed a document that requires a fee, but failed to make the payment. What do I do?
Create a PDF document for the case called "Notice of Attorney Payment of Fees." Log into CM/ECF and find that same event in the Notices menu. During the fiing of that event, the system will prompt the user for the type of fee being paid, and the credit card information.

I filed an answer that included two other attorneys from my firm, but their names do not appear on the docket. Why?
Each attorney must file their own notice of appearance, by logging into CM/ECF using his/her own CM/ECF account.

I filed an Immigration or Naturalization petition, but can not see the case through PACER. Why?
Online access to documents in these cases are limited to counsel of record. To view the documents online, first log into CM/ECF and then open the email message.

Local Rule requires a Certificate of Service, but how do I know who I have to serve by paper?
A "Notice of Electronic Filing" is created at the completion of each entry. That notice will list all attorneys receiving email notice, and any attorney (with the current street address) who is not receiving email notice. The filing attorney is responsible for sending a hard copy to those individuals. See the Court's CM/ECF Administrative Procedures, Section E for an explanation and suggested language for the certificate of service.

I need a summons. What do I do?
The Court will issue summons once the civil case has been filed, and assigned to a Judicial Officer. The summons will be signed and sealed and forwarded to counsel through the CM/ECF noticing system. The attorney should download the summons, and prepare as many as necessary for service. Service must be made pursuant to FRCP 4.




United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts

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