What is CM/ECF?
Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) is the
automated case management and electronic docketing system for
U. S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Texas. CM/ECF
provides an easy-to-use electronic case filing feature that
makes it easy for you to file and view
court documents over the Internet.
What Does CM/ECF Offer?
CM/ECF allows attorneys to file and view documents from their
office, home or anywhere they have access to the Internet, 24
hours a day. Documents are automatically docketed as part of the
filing process and are immediately available electronically.
CM/ECF also provides the following benefits:
- 24-hour access to filed documents over the Internet
- Automatic email notice of case activity
- The ability to download and print documents directly from the court system
- Concurrent access to case files by multiple parties
- Secure storage of documents (so files are not misplaced)
- Potential reduction in courier fees
How does "Electronic Filing" differ from CM/ECF?
CM/ECF (Case Management/Electronic Case Files) is the formal
name for the Court's computerized case management system.
"Electronic Filing" is a feature of the CM/ECF system.
What Do I Need to Use CM/ECF?
- A personal computer running a standard platform such as Windows or Macintosh
- Word processing software
- Internet access and a browser. The system has been certified with Netscape and is being tested with Internet Explorer
- Software to convert documents into PDF
- Scanning equipment may be useful
How Does it Work?
The electronic case files system accepts documents in a portable
document format (PDF). PDF retains the way a document looks, so
the pages, fonts and other formatting are preserved. Filing a
document with the courtís CM/ECF system is quite easy:
- Create the document using word processing or bankruptcy case preparation software.
- Save the document in PDF format.
- Log onto the courtís CM/ECF system, using a court-issued login and password.
- Follow the set of simple prompts to provide information about the case, party and document to be filed.
- Attach the PDF document and submit it to the court for filing (by pressing a submit button).
- Save or print the CM/ECF electronic receipt emailed from the court confirming that the document was filed.
Are There Fees?
There are no added fees for filing documents over the Internet
using CM/ECF; existing document filing fees do apply. Electronic
access to court data is available through the Public Access to
Court Electronic Records (PACER) program. Attorneys and litigants
receive one free copy of documents filed electronically in their
cases; additional copies are available for viewing or downloading
at seven cents per page. Directed by Congress to fund electronic
access through user fees, the judiciary has set the fee at the
lowest possible level sufficient to recoup program costs.
How will I Sign Documents?
The court will issue logins and passwords. Using your login and
password to file a document is considered to be your
How Secure is CM/ECF?
CM/ECF has many security features and has passed an evaluation by
the National Security Agency. Access to the system is through a
court issued login and password.
Do I have to have a scanner?
The actual document you submit as a PDF is usually generated using
a word processor or bankruptcy case preparation software.
Generally, if you produce documents on a personal computer and
print them on a printer, you can produce PDF version of these
documents without a scanner.
If attachments, exhibits or other items exist only on paper, you
will need to scan them to submit electronically as a PDF.
Low-volume scanners are inexpensive, some costing less than $100.
How do parties sign documents?
The Local Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure will specify the
requirements for electronic filing, including signature
requirements. The Local Rules may be modified in the future to
reflect changes in the signature requirements. As of January 30,
2002, however, the general answer is...
It all depends.
Attorneys' original signature on pleadings is not required on
electronically filed documents. Accessing the Court's electronic
filing system via a court-supplied login & password is considered
to be your signature.
Judges' signatures executing orders may be affixed in several ways, such as:
- The Judge may sign a paper copy of the order that is then scanned, or
- The Judge may affix an electronic facsimile of their signature, or
- The judge may "digitally" sign a document using any of several digital signature methodologies available, or
- The Judge may consider access to CM/ECF via their personal login & password as their "signature" executing an order
Each Judge will select a signature methodology they wish to
utilize for signing orders. Whichever method is used, rest
assured that the document images associated with orders entered
into a case docket in the Court's electronic case file system is
completely valid and in effect.
The debtors' original signature is still required on the two-page
petition and on the creditor matrix verification. When the
petition and/or matrix verification are submitted electronically,
the debtors' signature is not required on the PDF file submitted.
However, a paper copy of these documents bearing the debtor's
original signature may have to be forwarded to the clerk's office
shortly after the electronic versions are submitted. These paper
documents will be retained by the clerk's office. This
requirement may be modified to simplify the compliance procedure.
How do I create a pdf file with Acrobat?
When Adobe Acrobat is installed, it will create the Pdf
writer. You choose this as your 'printer' and print the file as
usual. The pdf writer will query you for a file name and then
write the pdf file with the name and directory that you provide
(you will be asked for this directory & file name when you
electronically file the document). Some software such as
WordPerfect 9 has the pdfwriter built into the application so you
don't need to purchase Adobe Acrobat separately.
Why am I not receiving emails from the ECF system?
There are a few reasons that you may not be receiving emails from the ECF system:
Your email box may be blocked or locked. Perhaps your email box is full (or was full when the email was sent) or you are overdue on paying any fees required for you to access the internet or your email, so your provider may have restricted your email in some way.
- Your email address could not be found on the internet, or by your email server. We get many bounces which are the result of email servers being down/offline/configured wrong/etc., or when the email server does not recognize the recipient's address.
- Invalid or outdated email address. You may have moved firms, changed email addresses, etc. Your registration is yours (not the firm's) and you are required to keep your contact information current and accurate.
- "Spam" or junk/bulk email protection may be blocking or filtering the ECF emails due to how the emails are being addressed. All ECF emails have common characteristics. Quite often these emails get filtered to a "protected" email folder on your email server which can only be accessed by the administrator on the system, or may be automatically deleted. This one can be major a problem since some email spam protection blocks emails which are not sent specifically TO: the recipient. Since ECF by definition sends "bulk" email, ECF emails may be blocked and there is nothing that the court can do about it on our end. The good news however is that all email spam protection allows for what is commonly called a "White List". White Lists are email addresses which are allowed to come through despite any other email filtering or protection. ("Black Lists" in contrasts are never allowed.)
Our court will make every effort to verify your email address when bouncebacks (returned emails) occur on our end.
Can I obtain the same login / password as I have in other districts?
Yes, make that request when submitting the attorney or creditor application. Otherwise, a login/password may be changed going to Utilities, Maintain Your ECF Account, and click More User Information.