- Is CM/ECF mandatory in the Fourth Circuit?
- Must I register before I can file through CM/ECF?
- How do I register to be a filer?
- Do I have to register if I have a PACER account and a CM/ECF account at another court?
- How do I know if I need to upgrade my PACER account?
- How do I get an exemption?
- I have a PACER Exempt account for court appointed work. What do I need to do?
- Are there any special training or bar membership requirements in order to register and file in CM/ECF?
- Does every attorney really need their own PACER account?
- I already file electronically in the district court, does that mean I can file in the Fourth Circuit?
- How long does it take to register for CM/ECF?
- Is there any charge to register or use CM/ECF?
- When is the CM/ECF system available?
- What help is available for CM/ECF?
- Can an attorney authorize someone in the attorney’s office (such as a paralegal) to use the attorney’s login name and password to file documents in CM/ECF?
- Can additional email addresses continue to be copied on my notices from the Fourth Circuit?
- While registering, I am asked to choose between HTML and Text versions of Notices of Docket Activity. What do I chose?
- I am a filing user and would like to add a secondary email to my account so someone else can also receive notification when activity occurs in my cases. How do I add or change the secondary email?
- Is there a “How to” guide available?
- I got a message that my account is locked. What do I do?
- How can a firm manage their PACER billing for all the individual attorney accounts?
- What documents can’t be filed using CM/ECF?
- Is there a list of Events available?
- Do I need to send the clerk a paper copy of a document filed through CM/ECF?
- Can I view pro se filings through CM/ECF and PACER?
- What is a Notice of Docket Activity?
- Why did I receive a second Notice of Docket Activity for my filing?
- Does my document need a certificate of service?
- The party or attorney on the other side isn’t participating in CM/ECF. How do I serve them?
- Can I get a daily summary of all my notices or do I have to get a Notice of Docket Activity for every action or entry?
- I represent a party that wants to be added to an appeal, such as amicus. How do I do that?
- I want to enter my appearance. How do I do that?
- How do you add additional attorneys to associate with the case?
- I want to file a motion to seal a document or a case. How do I do that?
- I made a mistake, such as filing in the wrong case or submitting the wrong document. What should I do?
- I can’t access a document in a Social Security case or in a petition for review in an immigration matter. Is there a problem?
- How should we file documents with multiple signatures?
- How do I comply with the court’s local rule 25(c)(3)(b)(i), to file a brief, motion, or other document in which the sealed material has been distinctively marked?
- How do I redact items from pleadings?
- How secure is CM/ECF?
- Can I be in CM/ECF and PACER at the same time and go back and forth between the two systems?
- How do I generate a text searchable PDF file?
- Why can’t I login with my CM/ECF ID and Password?
- Having problems loading the CM/ECF Application?
- What equipment and software do I need to file in CM/ECF?
- When I try to submit my document for filing, I get an "XML Tampering" error message.
- When I receive a document from the Court and click on a link within the document, I cannot go back to the original document.
Where can I find answers to other questions about CM/ECF?
1. Is CM/ECF mandatory in the Fourth Circuit?
Use of the CM/ECF system is mandatory for filings made by counsel in all cases effective June 1, 2008. It is optional for non-attorney filers, who must request leave of Court to file electronically in a particular case. See Local Rule 25(a) for further information regarding electronic filing requirements.
2. Must I register before I can file through CM/ECF?
Yes. An Appellate Filer account is required to file documents through CM/ECF. It is also required to view documents in social security and immigration cases in which you are participating. Register for an appellate filer account by following the Required Steps for Registration as an ECF Filer.
3. How do I register to be a filer?
A CM/ECF password and login are required to file documents in CM/ECF. All CM/ECF registration is handled by the PACER Service Center. Register for an appellate filer account by following the Required Steps for Registration as an ECF Filer. The PACER Service Center can be reached at 800-676-6856.
4. Do I have to register if I have a PACER account and a CM/ECF account at another court?
Yes. Your CM/ECF account is an authorization to file in a specific court, and it is separate from your nationwide PACER account. You must register for every court where you intend to be a filer.
5. How do I know if I need to upgrade my PACER account?
PACER accounts created after August 10, 2014, do not need to be upgraded. If you are unsure when your PACER account was created, visit PACER’s Manage My Account page to determine your PACER “Account Type."
6. How do I get an exemption?
Upon motion and a showing of good cause, the Court may exempt counsel from the provisions of electronic filing and authorize filing by means other than use of CM/ECF.
7. I have a PACER Exempt account for court appointed work. What do I need to do?
Part A. Before you can begin, you have to determine whether your non-exempt PACER account is an individual or shared account. If there are other e-filers in your office who use the same PACER account, it is a shared account. If you are the only e-filer in your office who uses yournon-exemptaccount, it is an individual account.
- If your non-exempt PACER account is a shared account, you have to register for a new PACER account. Your new account will be an upgraded account.
- If your non-exempt PACER account is an individual account, log in to Manage My Account in PACER. The type of account you have will be listed in the Account Type field. If you already have an upgraded PACER account, proceed to Part B. If you have a legacy PACER account, click the Upgrade link to begin the process of upgrading your account.
Part B. Once you have an upgraded, individual, non-exempt PACER account, contact the PACER Service Center at firstname.lastname@example.org and request to have your CJA privileges added to this account. Your email should include the following information:
- Your name and the district or circuit in which you have been appointed to the CJA Panel.
- The username and account number for your upgraded PACER account. You can find this information by logging in to Manage My Account in PACER.
- The username and account number for your PACER-exempt account. You can find this information by logging in to Manage My Account in PACER.
8. Are there any special training or bar membership requirements in order to register and file in CM/ECF?
When you register for a Fourth Circuit Filer account, the PACER Service Center provides you with a link to information about the Fourth Circuit's electronic filing policies and procedures. All attorneys can register for a filing account with the Fourth Circuit however, non-bar members will not be given access to filing. Additional information on submitting an application for admission to the court's bar can be found here - Submit Bar Application
9. Does every attorney really need their own PACER account?
Yes, every attorney filer needs their own upgraded PACER account. Their individual PACER account will become their Next Gen Filing account in all federal courts. 10. I already file electronically in the district court, does that mean I can file in the Fourth Circuit?
You must submit your PACER account to the Fourth Circuit to receive filing privileges in this court. There is no additional training required.
11. How long does it take to register for CM/ECF?
The Court must receive your appellate filer registration from the PACER Service Center before your registration can be approved. Registration will usually be completed within a few hours of the Court's receipt of all of your registration material. In exceptional situations, it may take a day. When your registration is complete, you will receive an email from the PACER Service Center confirming your registration. If you have an emergency and need to file immediately, contact the clerk's office at (804) 916-2767 for assistance and directions.
12. Is there any charge to register or use CM/ECF?
There is no charge to register or to make a CM/ECF filing. Please note that when you access documents through your PACER account, you are subject to the $0.10 per page charge. As in the district court and bankruptcy systems, filers and parties in the case get one “free look” at all filings when they view them from the Notice of Docket Activity, and we recommend that you print or download the documents at that time.
13. When is the CM/ECF system available?
The system is always available (except for routine or emergency maintenance), and you should be able to file anytime. Filings completed before midnight Eastern Time are entered on the docket that day. If you experience difficulties, please contact the clerk's office during normal business hours at (804) 916-2767. Additionally, when the system will be unavailable for routine maintenance and upgrades, there will be a notice posted on the website 24 hours in advance of the outage.
14. What help is available for CM/ECF?
The Fourth Circuit CM/ECF web page contains links to a wide variety of CM/ECF information, including the CM/ECF User Manual. You can contact the clerk’s office Help Desk at (804) 916-2767 for assistance with filing. Help is available from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you are having difficulty registering for CM/ECF or have questions about your PACER or CM/ECF accounts, you should contact the PACER Service Center at (800) 676-6856. If you need to modify or update either your PACER or CM/ECF accounts, you can do so at the PACER website (http://pacer.gov).
15. Can an attorney authorize someone in the attorney’s office (such as a paralegal) to use the attorney’s login name and password to file documents in CM/ECF?
Yes, but access should be limited and controlled since whatever is filed under that login and password is deemed to have the attorney’s signature on it.
16. Can additional email addresses continue to be copied on my notices from the Fourth Circuit?
Yes, noticing was not changed with the implementation of Next Gen.
17. While registering, I am asked to choose between HTML and Text versions of Notices of Docket Activity. What do I choose?
HTML. The hyperlinks contained in the Notice of Docket Activity (NDA) to the docket sheet and documents will not work in text versions of the NDA.
18. I am a filing user and would like to add a secondary email to my account so someone else can also receive notification when activity occurs in my cases. How do I add or change the secondary email?
A secondary account can be added at the time of registration for a login and password. If the account has already been created, you can update your account after logging into Fourth Circuit CM/ECF, by selecting “Utilities”, “Update My Account”, and the “Edit My Information” button. At the login prompt, enter your Appellate ECF Filer login and password and click “Verify Login.” On the Account Update page, select “Personal Info/Address Updates.” To add an additional email address, select “Update Noticing Preferences” and enter the email address in the “Additional Emails” box. If you would like more than one additional email address to receive notification in your cases, list all addresses in the “Additional Emails” box and separate the addresses with a comma. Click “Submit” once all additional emails have been added.
19. Is there a “How to” guide available?
The CM/ECF User Manuall is available on the Fourth Circuit CM/ECF web page.
20. I got a message that my account is locked. What do I do?
After attempting to log in to CM/ECF three times unsuccessfully, the system locks a user's account. Call the 4th Circuit ECF Help Desk (804) 916-2767 or close your internet browser and wait five minutes, your account will automatically re-set.
21. How can a firm manage their PACER billing for all the individual attorney accounts?
Firms can register for a PACER Administrative Account that individual users can link their PACER accounts to for billing. Firms can go to https://www.pacer.gov/reg_firm.html or contact the PACER Service Center at 800-676-6856 for additional information on Administrative Accounts.
1. What documents can’t be filed using CM/ECF?
Criminal Justice Act vouchers and documents relating to compensation and reimbursement for representation, and for ancillary services and expenses, are submitted electronically using the CJA eVoucher system; these documents are maintained by the Court as financial documents outside the CM/ECF system.
2. Is there a list of Events available?
Yes. You can access it here: Attorney Filing Events
3. Do I need to send the clerk a paper copy of a document filed through CM/ECF?
• The clerk may request a paper copy of electronically filed documents as needed.
• Formal briefs and appendices must be filed electronically and in paper form.
4. Can I view pro se filings through CM/ECF and PACER?
Yes. The clerk will scan all pro se filings, including any pro se briefs received in paper format, and will attach these pro se documents to the relevant docket entry. A Notice of Docket Activity will be sent when the clerk’s office files the document, and you may view it by clicking on the link in the Notice of Docket Activity. Documents are identified on the court’s docket sheets by hyperlink to the docket entry number. All scanned pro se documents will be accessible through PACER.
5. What is a Notice of Docket Activity?
A Notice of Docket Activity is a notice that is generated automatically by the CM/ECF System at the time a document is filed electronically. The notice sets forth the time of filing, the name of the party filing the document, the text of the docket entry created by the filing, a hyperlink to the PDF document filed, and the name of the participants required to receive notice of the filing.
6. Why did I receive a second Notice of Docket Activity for my filing?
The clerk’s office reviews all attorney filings as part of its quality control procedures. In the event the deputy clerk finds an error or needs to modify the docket text for the event and the filing, the deputy will make the changes and send a new Notice of Docket Activity to the case participants. If you receive a second Notice of Docket Activity for a filing and cannot determine the reason for the second Notice, please call the clerk’s office at (804) 916-2700.
7. Does my document need a certificate of service?
Yes. A certificate of service is required only if any service was made outside CM/ECF, such as for sealed or case-initiating documents or on persons who are not registered CM/ECF users. Make the Certificate of Service the last page of the document. See section II(D)(2) - Preparing Certificate of Service, of the CM/ECF User Manual for more information on Certificates of Service.
.8. The party or attorney on the other side isn’t participating in CM/ECF. How do I serve them?
When the opposing party or attorney is not an ECF participant, you must serve them in traditional fashion. See Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 25. To ascertain if a party or attorney is participating in CM/ECF, use the "Attorney Service Preference Report" within CM/ECF.
9. Can I get a daily summary of all my notices or do I have to get a Notice of Docket Activity for every action or entry?
PACER gives you the options of a daily summary or individual event noticing. The default is individual event noticing, but you can change that by updating your account information at the Pacer Service Center under “Filer Account Update.” If you prefer a daily summary, select “Daily Summary” instead of “Each Transaction” on the “Notice of Docket Activity Frequency” option.
10. I represent a party that wants to be added to an appeal, such as amicus. How do I do that?
File the motion using the event MOTION FILED and select the appropriate relief (e.g. FILE AMICUS BRIEF or INTERVENE). In the text box, type in the name of the party who is filing the motion and upload the motion. The clerk’s office will review the motion and add all potential parties and their attorney(s) to the case.
11. I want to enter my appearance. How do I do that?
You must log in to the CM/ECF System with your PACER account, enter the case number and then search for "Appearance of Counsel." The system will lead you through prompts to upload your appearance form and answer additional questions.
12. How do you add additional attorneys to associate with the case?
Each attorney who wishes to be added to a case should file an appearance of counsel. The clerk’s office will review the appearance of counsel and add counsel to the case.
13. I want to file a motion to seal a document or a case. How do I do that?
File the motion using the event MOTION FILED and the relief SEAL. If the motion is seeking to seal a document that is not already on file with the Court, file the document using the event SEALED DOCUMENT FILED after filing the motion. If the motion is denied, the Court will strike the document.
14. I made a mistake, such as filing in the wrong case or submitting the wrong document. What should I do?
You cannot delete events or documents after you have committed a transaction to the docket. If you have made an error (filed in the wrong case, submitted the wrong version of a document, etc.), call your case manager at 804-916-2700 for further instruction.
15. I can’t access a document in a Social Security case or an immigration matter. Is there a problem?
No. Remote electronic access to documents in Social Security cases and immigration matters is limited to the attorneys or parties other than orders and opinions in the case in order to protect the privacy of the individuals involved in those cases. You may inspect these files in person in the clerk’s office. If you are a party or attorney in the case, please note that you can access documents in these cases only through use of your CM/ECF Filer ID. If your free look has been utilized previously, you will have to login to both PACER & CM/ECF to access the document.
16. How should we file documents with multiple signatures?
Documents requiring signatures of more than one party may be electronically filed in any of the following ways: (a) submitting a scanned document containing all necessary signatures; (b) representing the consent of the other parties on the document; (c) identifying on the document the parties whose signatures are required and submitting a notice of endorsement by the other parties no later than three business days after filing; or (d) any other manner approved by the Court.
17. How do I comply with the court’s local rule 25(c)(3)(b)(i), to file a brief, motion, or other document in which the sealed material has been distinctively marked?
- In Acrobat 8, choose Tools>>Comments & Markup>>Highlight Text Tool.
- Select the text to be highlighted. This would be the text that was redacted in the redacted version of the document.
- Once all highlighting is complete, save the document. You may want to save this under a name that identifies this as the sealed version of your document.
19. How do I redact items from pleadings?
Adobe Acrobat 8 and above (both Standard and Professional) can be used to permanently redact information once a document is in PDF format. For information on redacting in Adobe Acrobat, see:
If you don’t use Acrobat: You can redact information by deleting the text in the word processing version of your pleading. In order to mark the text as having been redacted, you can add the phrase “text redacted” in the place of the redacted information. You can then convert the pleading to PDF format for filing.
WARNING: Marking out text in a word processing document using a highlighter or box tool does not remove sensitive data from the document.
1. How secure is CM/ECF?
CM/ECF has many security features and has passed an evaluation by the National Security Agency. However, Filing Users agree to protect the security of their passwords. Contact the PACER Service Center and the clerk immediately if you learn that your password has been compromised.
2. Can I be in CM/ECF and PACER at the same time and go back and forth between the two systems?
3. How do I generate a text searchable PDF file?
WordPerfect versions 9, 10, 11, and 12 include the capability to convert text documents to PDF by clicking “File” on the toolbar and then “Publish to PDF”. Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010 include PDF conversion software. You may use Adobe Acrobat Writer or download free PDF conversion software from any source of your choosing. Interactive on-line training on converting Word or Word Perfect Documents to PDF is available at https://www.pacer.gov/ecfcbt/ap/. (You may need to allow pop-ups).
Please note that employees of the Court cannot convert files to PDF format for you, nor can they accept emailed submissions and post them for you. If you have problems uploading a document, you may call the Help Desk at (804) 916-2767.
4. Why can’t I login with my CM/ECF ID and Password?
Go to https://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/pscof/login.jsf and change the password on your account. See also - http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/caseinformationefiling/efiling_cm-ecf.
5. Having problems loading the CM/ECF Application?
Clear your browser history and try again or try a different browser. Compatible browsers are Edge, Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox. 6. What equipment and software do I need to file in CM/ECF?
A computer with a compatible internet browser. Compatible browsers are Edge, Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox.
7. When I try to submit my document for filing, I get an "XML Tampering" error message.
This problem seems to be related to Adobe Acrobat and how the document was saved. From your computer, open the pdf file for the document you are attempting to file. Click on "File," "Save As," and then save the document to replace the existing file. Now go back to CM/ECF and file your document. If the document still can't be filed, open the pdf file, click the print button and select the pdf printer from the pulldown screen of printer options. This will create a new pdf file of the document and you should be able to file it. If the problem persists, please call the Help Desk at 804-916-2767.
8. When I receive a document from the Court and click on a link within the document, I cannot go back to the original document.
There are two options to address this problem. The first option is to save the document to your local system. You can do this by selecting the disk icon on the toolbar at the top of the document and saving the document to the location of your choice. This will allow you to access the original document repeatedly without additional fees. The second option is to open the link in a new window: right-click the link you want to open, select copy link location, open a new browser window or tab and copy the link to the address bar of the new window/tab. This method will allow you to have the original document and the linked document open on your machine at the same time however, if the window containing the original document is closed, you will have to pay a PACER fee to view the document again.
1. Where can I find answers to other questions about CM/ECF?
The PACER Service Center's Frequently Asked Questions site at https://www.pacer.gov/psc/efaq.html provides answers to many additional questions about CM/ECF.