CM/ECF Frequently Asked Questions

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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

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'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.

How do I link my PACER account to my ECF account?
You may link your PACER Account to your CM/ECF account in one of two ways: 1, by going to the Utilities menu in ECF and clicking on "Change your PACER Login" or by 2, going to PACER. Either choice will bring the user to a PACER login screen. Immediately above the login portion of the screen, a check box may be found to "Make this my default PACER login."

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.

United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts

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