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ECF User Manual
CM/ECF (Case Management/Electronic Case Filing) is a program of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts giving federal courts the ability to maintain electronic case files and offer electronic filing of court documents via the internet. CM/ECF users should have a working knowledge of internet browsers and portable document format (.pdf) software.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Florida offers CM/ECF training at no cost to attorneys, paralegals, clerical staff, and others who will be using the system. Training is completed on a self-paced basis in our Training database. Complete the Training Request form to request training.
Other training resources are available on the PACER website at https://pacer.uscourts.gov/help.
Help Desk assistance with CM/ECF issues is available by phone at 850-521-5001 (Tallahassee local area) or 888-765-1752 (toll free) or by email at CMECF_HelpDesk@flnb.uscourts.gov. The Help Desk is staffed Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays or other days when the Clerk’s Office Intake counter is closed.
Filing documents into CM/ECF electronic filing systems requires the following hardware and software:
- A personal computer running a standard platform such as Windows or Mac OS X.
- A PDF-compatible word processor like Microsoft Word.
- Internet service.
- A web browser. For CM/ECF, the latest versions of Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Internet Explorer are recommended. Some users have had positive experiences with other web browsers, but those listed here have been tested and certified for compatibility with CM/ECF.
- Software to convert documents from word processor format to portable document format (PDF). Corel WordPerfect and Microsoft Word can convert documents to PDF, or an additional product such as Adobe Acrobat can be used.
- Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available for free, is needed for viewing PDF documents.
- A document scanner, if case participants need to create PDF images of documents they wish to file using CM/ECF.
Access to file documents and pleadings in CM/ECF requires a login and password to the local court’s CM/ECF system.* The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Florida will provide electronic filing access to trustees, attorneys, and bankruptcy creditors (limited use) upon registration and completion of training or receipt of proof of CM/ECF online filing from another federal court. Attorneys applying for full access must be admitted to practice in the Northern District of Florida. Admission status will be verified with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida prior to approving requests for a login and password. Please note that for security purposes, we will not provide a login and password by telephone. This information will only be provided by email to the primary email address listed on the registration form. There is no fee for filing documents via CM/ECF.
Access to view documents and pleadings in CM/ECF requires a login and password to the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) program. Users must register with PACER for access. The PACER login and password will grant you access to all federal courts using CM/ECF. Electronic case participants will receive a Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) email of documents filed in their cases. The NEF will contain a link to access the document through PACER one time free of charge. Otherwise, there is a fee to view pleadings, documents, and reports through PACER. Opinions may be viewed for free.
Visit the PACER website for information about fees and the waiver of fees incurred during the same quarter totaling $30 or less.
*Some federal courts are on the “Next Generation” (NextGen) of CM/ECF which provides a single sign-on for multiple courts through PACER. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Florida is not a NextGen court.
Document Format Requirements
CM/ECF systems are designed to only accept documents in PDF format, except for the creditor/mailing matrix filed with a new bankruptcy case filing. Adobe developed the format and offers software that allows conversion of documents created in most word processing systems into PDF. Several word processing and other programs contain features that convert documents created in those programs into PDF. Please review all documents prior to uploading into CM/ECF to confirm format, orientation, and that pages are in the proper sequence. Currently, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Florida does not require PDF/A format.
PDF files may not exceed 35 MB. If your file size exceeds this maximum, you must break your document into multiple files, each not exceeding 35 MB.
Creditor/mailing matrices must be in a text file format for upload into CM/ECF.
Access to CM/ECF is available through the “E-Filing (CM/ECF)” link on the Home page of our website at www.flnb.uscourts.gov. Your login and password are case sensitive. Multiple attempts to access your account with an incorrect login and/or password will result in your account being locked for a period of five (5) minutes. Additional attempts to access the system during this period will add additional time to the lock out period. Access to the Training database is also available through our website. Click here for more information about training.
CM/ECF Menu Bar
CM/ECF Logo: The logo button provides details specific to the court whose CM/ECF system you are accessing. This information includes address and contact information, the version of CM/ECF the court is on, maximum PDF file size, and more. You may also subscribe to an RSS Feed of docket entries here.
Bankruptcy and Adversary Buttons: The Bankruptcy and Adversary buttons take you to pages containing links to the respective filing events for these types of cases. The links are divided by category and each will open a “pick list” of events for the user to select. (NOTE: If you are logged into PACER only these buttons will not be available to you.) You may use filing events from either category in any type of case (e.g., the Notice of Appearance is listed under both and may be used in either a bankruptcy case or an adversary proceeding).
Query: You may search for case information by case number, name, and/or Social Security Number or Tax Identification Number. Clicking the Query button may require you to also enter your PACER login and password before continuing.
Reports: The Reports button contains links for the user to create, view, and print a variety of reports for specific cases or activity in the district. Clicking the Reports button may require you to also enter your PACER login and password before continuing.
Utilities: You may update your contact information, change your password, view a log of your CM/ECF activity, and pay outstanding filing fees through the Utilities options. Options available to you may vary depending upon your access rights.
Search: The Search feature enables a user to search for filing events for filing documents in CM/ECF. This is a keyword search that allows you to file directly from the list that is generated.
Login type: To the right of the “Logout” button is an identifier of the type of account through which you are currently logged in. For example, if the identifier says “Attorney-Db/Cr” you are logged in as an attorney with access to file on behalf of both debtors and creditors. If the identifier says “PACER,” you are logged into PACER only and do not have access through the current login to file documents. Depending upon your filing needs, multiple identifiers may appear.
Opening a New Bankruptcy Case
Attorneys may open new bankruptcy cases three ways: manually, via Case Upload, or through the use of commercial case filing software.
Manual Process. The manual process will require the attorney to enter the debtor’s personal and financial information into the appropriate fields and upload a PDF of the bankruptcy petition, schedules, statements, and creditor/mailing matrix. Additional documents required at the time of filing the case must be filed separately using the appropriate filing events. A text file (.txt) of the mailing matrix must also be uploaded in a separate step. (TIP: Use the keyword Search feature located in the blue menu bar at the top of your screen.)
Case Upload. Case Upload allows the attorney to upload multiple files on one screen and complete the case filing with one click. Each filing must consist of a minimum of a data file for the debtor’s personal and statistical information (e.g., schedule amounts, estimated liabilities and assets, etc.), a single PDF file for the voluntary petition and any accompanying schedules and statements, and a text file for the mailing matrix. Additional “first day” documents such as the debtor’s income documents, plan, or other documents as required by chapter may also be filed at the same time by uploading the PDF file into the appropriate field. Please scroll to the bottom of each screen to determine if additional information is required. Filers should ensure that the data file contains the appropriate number of fields for the CM/ECF version the court is currently using.
It is your responsibility to ensure that all documents were uploaded and filed appropriately and that the creditors were added to the case. Involuntary cases may not be filed using Case Upload.
Commercial Case Filing Software. Cases may also be opened using commercial bankruptcy software with automatic filing features. Our court routinely tests multiple commercial bankruptcy software programs to verify the compatibility with CM/ECF in the Northern District of Florida. However, we do not endorse any specific provider, and we do not offer training or technical support for these programs.
It is your responsibility to ensure that all documents were uploaded and filed appropriately and that the creditors were added to the case.
Please see the Instructions for Creating a Mailing Matrix located on the Forms page of this website for specifications for the mailing/creditor matrix. A mailing/creditor matrix is required to be filed WITH the voluntary bankruptcy petition in accordance with Fed. R. Bankr. P. 1007(a)(1) and 11 U.S.C. § 521(a)(1)(A).
Obtaining a Mailing Matrix for Service
The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) of 2005 established a National Creditor Register Service (NCRS) which allows creditors to register a “preferred” address for receiving mail from the Courts. The preferred address registered with the NCRS will appear on the mailing matrix generated from CM/ECF. It is essential that a new mailing matrix be obtained from CM/ECF for each instance of service to ensure service to the most recent and correct addresses.
Official Mailing Matrix: The query for the Official Mailing Matrix defaults to “all” to include all parties, parties in interest, and creditors in a bankruptcy case, as well as any parties or entities automatically added by the court (“special mailing groups”). The matrix generated using this option includes notations regarding parties who will receive electronic notice of filings (“+” after name), duplicate addresses (“(d)” before name), and substitutions of a preferred address (“(p)” before name).
List of Creditors: The mailing matrix generated via the “List of Creditors” menu option includes only creditors. This matrix will not include any parties, parties in interest, or other non-creditors in the case.
Electronic & Manual Service Lists: The “Electronic & Manual Service Lists” link provides email addresses of parties in a case who will receive electronic service. This list does not include creditors.
Matrices may be printed in a “3 column” format or a pipe-delimited “raw data format.” The 3-column format can be printed on labels and are compatible with a 30-label sheet of 1” x 2-5/8” labels (Avery 8160 or equivalent).
Opening a New Adversary Proceeding
All adversary proceedings are opened manually. While there is not an official form for the Complaint or other document required to initiate an adversary proceeding, the Adversary Proceeding Cover Sheet, Official Form 1040, is required to be filed as an attachment to the Complaint. When inputting the information into CM/ECF please be mindful of the following:
- Adding parties: Always search for your plaintiffs and defendants before adding a new party to the system. If applicable, you will search for and/or add all plaintiffs and then search for and/or add all defendants. When you have finished entering all the plaintiffs, click the button to “End plaintiff selection” after which you will be prompted to begin adding the defendant information. When you have finished adding the defendant(s) to the case, click the button to “End defendant selection” to proceed.
- Demand: Enter the dollar demand to the nearest 000 dollar amount of the judgment being sought (i.e., if you are requesting a judgment for $8000.00, enter a single “8” into this field).
- Nature of Suit: When selecting multiple natures of suit, choose the cause of action with the most severe consequences as the primary nature of suit.
- Attaching the Adversary Proceeding Cover Sheet: When adding an attachment, you may type in a description of the document and/or select from the drop down list of predefined descriptions. Click the “Add to List” button and wait for the document to appear in the box beside the button before clicking “Next.”
The Clerk’s Office will issue the Summons electronically via docket entry. The plaintiff’s attorney is directed to open and print the attached Summons and serve in accordance with applicable Rules. Service must be effected within seven (7) days after the Summons is issued. A certificate of service must be filed using the “Summons - Service Executed” event in CM/ECF.
Selecting the Appropriate Filing Event
It is vital that filers select appropriate filing events when filing documents and pleadings in CM/ECF to avoid case management delays. Most events are written to execute “behind the scenes” functions such as setting or removing deadlines or case flags; satisfying response requirements; notifying the Courtroom Deputy of the need to schedule, reschedule, or cancel hearings; charging or not charging fees; and many other possible functions. Failure to select the correct filing event can result in complex issues that will necessitate case management delays and, possibly, phone calls made to your office by Clerk’s Office staff.
Automatic Docketing Interface (“ADI”)
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Florida uses ADI to automatically perform several routine functions and docket numerous routine entries saving the Court time and providing maximum efficiency in the handling of your client’s case. At this time, the Court has over 30 ADI processes in place including processes such as automatic discharge and closing of chapter 7 cases, entry of an order converting chapter 13 cases to chapter 7 upon the filing of a motion or Notice of Conversion, and other processes which can be executed after a quality control check against a strict set of criteria.
Filing a Proof of Claim
Proofs of Claim may be filed by 1) logging into CM/ECF; or 2) using the ePOC program on this court’s website.
In CM/ECF, filers may use the “File Claims” method of filing a proof of claim to input minimal information and upload a pre-prepared Proof of Claim form to file a new or amended proof of claim. Filers may also use the “File Speed-Claim (ePOC)” method through CM/ECF which requires the filer to complete an online form to generate the Proof of Claim document and file your claim. See below for more information.
In the alternative, filers may use ePOC, available on this Court’s website. ePOC allows filers to file a new or amended proof of claim pursuant to Fed. R. Bankr. P. 3002(c)(7)(B) without logging into or being required to have a login and password to CM/ECF. This method requires the filer to complete an online form to generate the Proof of Claim document and file your claim. You may attach supporting documentation and print a “Filed” stamped copy of your Proof of Claim at the end of the process.
Submitting a Proposed Order
Proposed orders are to be submitted through CM/ECF using the “Submit a Proposed Order” links. This link will open a new window containing a form to be completed with information about the case and matter to which your proposed order relates. Your pop-up blockers must be turned off for the window to open. All proposed orders are to be submitted in Word (.docx) or Real Text Format (.rtf) and must comply with the Proposed Order Guidelines.
Email Summary Report
The Email Summary Report (under the Reports button in the blue menu bar) allows filers to run a report showing all Notices of Electronic Filing (NEFs) sent by CM/ECF on a given date. This report may be used if you believe you did not receive all notifications or the daily summary of filings in your cases.
Maintaining Your CM/ECF Account
As required in the Administrative Procedures for Filing, Signing, and Verifying Pleadings and Papers by Electronic Means (the “Administrative Procedures for Electronic Filing”) § I.C.c., users of the CM/ECF system in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Florida agree to keep their contact information current. This includes your current address, telephone numbers, and email address(es). This is done through the “Maintain My ECF Account” link under the Utilities menu. Depending upon your access rights, you may also change your password using the “Change My Password” link. You may change your address in some, all, or none of your cases.
CM/ECF has many document-specific amended events for objections, motions, notices, and other pleadings or documents. You must use a document-specific amended event, if available, for CM/ECF to execute actions related to your filing such as not charging a fee a second time, setting deadlines or flags, or notifying Clerk’s staff to take action such as scheduling a hearing or following up after a specified period.
All amended documents must be linked to the original filing. Select the radio button beside the original filing when prompted to select the related event in order to link the amended document to the original. All amended documents and pleadings must be appropriately marked as such and shall be filed in accordance with the N.D. Fla. LBR, as applicable.
Documents Filed in Error: Filers who determine that a document has been filed in error should withdraw or amend the filing, as applicable, as soon as possible.
All reports generated in CM/ECF are through PACER, and you will be prompted to login to PACER to access them. The PACER Service Center offers a thorough manual which contains information on conducting searches, producing case reports, and maintaining your PACER account. See https://www.pacer.gov/documents/pacermanual.pdf for more information.
Quality Control (QC) by the Clerk’s Office
If the Clerk’s Office identifies an error during the Quality Control process, they will docket either a “Submission Error Notification” advising of the exact nature of the error to be resolved or a “Corrective Entry” advising that we have corrected the problem.
Submission Error Notification (“SEN”): SENs will identify the exact nature of the error(s) and most always require that the document be refiled correctly. You will receive only one notification of the need to correct the filing and, if you are advised of the need to refile, your document or pleading will not be processed until it is filed correctly, or the error identified has been resolved.
The most common errors receiving a SEN are:
- Document not signed/improperly signed
- Amendment(s) to Voluntary Petition, Lists, Schedules, and/or Statements not in compliance with N.D. Fla. LBR 1009-1(A), (B), and/or (C)
- Negative Notice – Improper use of or improper or omitted legend
- Incorrect filing event used
- Incomplete PDF/document appears to be missing pages
- Document filed in wrong case
- Improper or outdated forms used
- Multiple documents uploaded as one filing
- Attachments missing
- Wrong PDF attached
Occasionally the Court will enter a Submission Error Notification stating that the Court will process a pleading according to local procedure, most often due to the time-sensitive nature of the pleading. These notations are for your information regarding future filings of the same type. Repeated occurrences of the same type of error by the same filer will be reported to chambers for action.
Corrective Entries: A Corrective Entry is a notification that the Clerk’s Office has corrected something docketed by another filer. The most common Corrective Entry notifications are associated with corrections the Case Administrator will make in CM/ECF when performing the Quality Control check on a new petition:
- Alias listed on petition but omitted from CM/ECF
- Debtor/Joint Debtor name different on petition than entered into CM/ECF
- Social Security Number updated after receipt of Amended Form 121
- Asset designation reclassified (NOTE: Chapter 7 cases are always “no asset” in this district until otherwise advised by the case trustee)
- Statistical data updated to match petition
- Updated deficiency notations
- BAPCPA statistical mapping added to pleading
When the Court takes corrective actions such as these, they will docket the Corrective Entry to maintain the integrity of the docket. The entry will identify the exact nature of the change made and requires no action by the original filer.