CM/ECF Frequently Asked Questions

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Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF)

In training we were told you get one free look at the document when you receive a Notice of Electronic Filing. How does it work, since we still have to login to PACER?
From the PACER Service Center, this is how the free look is working:
Primary Email Address Only: The Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) is sent to the primary email address and the recipient receives a free look from the document link. When viewing the document after the one free look the recipient is billed. This is true for both civil and criminal cases.
Primary and Secondary Email Addresses: The NEF is sent to the primary email address and to all secondary email addresses. The primary email address receives a free look and the first secondary email address to view the document also receives a free look. All other secondary email addresses are billed. Therefore, when there are both primary and secondary email addresses they are treated as two different sets allowing one free look for each set. This is true for both civil and criminal cases.
If the public user sees the billing receipt, they are getting charged. If the transaction is recorded in the billing logs and is visible under the review billing history option, then have been charged. You should contact the PACER Service Center with any questions regarding PACER charges and billing. You can log into their home page at or call the PACER Service Center at (800) 676-6856 or (210) 301-6440.

I received a notice of electronic filing in a case I'm involved in but there was no link or text after the line: "Copy the URL address on the line below into the location bar of your Web browser to view the document: or Document Number:"
There was no document filed with the docket entry. Not all events (entries) in the case need to have PDF documents filed with them. Court users may enter Electronic Orders, Electronic Clerk's Notes, Electronic Notices, etc. without attaching a PDF file. These entries are text-only entries. Additional Information : 'Copy the URL address' shows up when the attorney chooses Text Noticing in their email setup. 'Document Number' shows up when the attorney chooses HTML Noticing in their email setup. Users may change from Text Only to HTML by modifying email information from the Utilities menu.

When I copy the URL address from the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) receipt into a browser (as instructed), it brings me to a PACER login screen. Why?
You must login to CM/ECF using your PACER account to get your one free look. You will not be charged for viewing a document you access through the notice you received from us. PACER keeps track of the free look, so save or print the document if you need to as you will be charged for your next viewing of the same document. If you do not have a PACER account, you can apply for one by calling 800-676-6856 or you can register on line at

I'm not receiving notices in cases in which I am involved. I've registered for ECF and have a login and password. What's wrong?
1) Make sure you are listed as the attorney of record in the case, and the docket includes "ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED" at the bottom of your name and address. If "ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED" does not appear on the docket below your name and address, contact the docket clerk for the presiding Judicial Officer.
2) Check your email address in CM/ECF. Is it correct?
3) Has your local email server restricted mail from our email address or domain? Please ask your IT support to make sure mail from our address is not blocked.

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.

I'm having problems with my internet provider and I have not received my electronic notices. What should I do?
Please contact the courtroom deputy and /or docket clerk for the Judicial Officer assigned to every case in which you have made an appearance to notify them of the problem. Emails sent to you will most likely be returned to the Help Desk as undeliverable. We do our best here to resend the e-notices when they fail, however we may not be able to get a notice through to you in a timely manner, due to your ISP problems. Users with known email problems should make every effort to monitor their pending cases through PACER so as to not miss any case activity.

I added additional email addresses to my noticing list however, now I am not getting any notices. Why?
"It is important to ensure that the email addresses which you enter are accurate and typed in correctly. Incorrect or typographical errors cause noticing emails to bounce back to us as undeliverable. When this happens it is possible that either you, your additional recipients or both will not receive any electronic notices at all. If we receive bounce backs for additional recipients listed on your account, we will remove these recipients from your email setup to prevent further bounce backs from being received and notify you that there was a problem with them. You will need to verify the recipients' correct email addresses and re-enter them. Additionally, only a (;) semi-colon should be used to separate multiple email addresses.

I've registered for and received a CM/ECF login account, but I still get a login screen when I try to search for case information. Why?
The CM/ECF account that is set up for you is strictly for electronic filing of case related information. To view case related documents and query cases, you will still need to login using your Pacer account when prompted. See the FAQ on linking your PACER account to your CM/ECF account.

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.

May I add a client's email address to my account?
Additional addresses may be added to the user's account. These additional addresses may receive the same emails as the user, some of the emails (by case number), or emails in other cases in which the attorney has not made an appearance but has an interest case activities. See the Court's CM/ECF User Guide for further instructions.

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.

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 have filed a notice of appearance but I'm not receiving notices. How do I fix this?
If you have filed your notice of appearance using your own ECF login and password, did you check the appropriate box to link yourself to your client on the docket (and leave the box for 'Notice' checked)? If you did, contact the ECF Help Desk. If you failed to check the association box, or unchecked the notice box, contact the docket or courtroom clerk for the assigned Judicial Officer. If the notice was filed on your behalf using another attorney's login and password, contact the docket or courtroom clerk for the assigned Judicial Officer and then file the notice again using your own ECF login and password.

I receive e-mails from the Court, but I just can't read the body of the message. What's wrong?
Check the settings on your CM/ECF account under Maintain Your Email on the Utilities menu. Be sure that you have selected the proper format ("html format" or "text format"). Contact your Internet service provider for advice on what choice is best for you.

United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts

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