1. What is the Electronic Case Files Initiative?
ECF is an automation project in the federal judiciary that allows attorneys
to file bankruptcy petitions and other documents over the Internet by using
a standard web browser. This, in combination with the court scanning paper documents,
results in a completely electronic "case file" that replaces the paper
case file traditionally held at the court. All case information and electronic
copies of documents are available for viewing and printing over the Internet.
ECF will eventually become the primary method for filing documents with the
court and for receiving case information from the court.
2. Who can be authorized to file documents electronically?
All attorneys and trustees who complete court-sponsored training are issued
logins and passwords to file documents electronically.
3. Is ECF available in both the Seattle and Tacoma offices?
Yes. Electronic filing and electronic case files are available in both locations.
4. Does the general public have access to view ECF cases?
Yes. Computer terminals are available in the lobbies of the clerk’s offices
to view electronic case files. Remote access to view electronic case files is
available to the general public with a PACER login and password.
5. Are other bankruptcy courts using ECF?
A list of bankruptcy courts using ECF is available here.
6. Can members of the general public use ECF to file documents with the court?
Authorization to file new case and documents electronically is available only
to registered attorneys and trustees. Creditors can receive a limited use login
and password to file claims and claims related documents.
7. Do I need a PACER account to use ECF?
The email notice of activity to a case contains a hyperlink to the case docket report and the electronic document. Registered ECF attorneys, who are parties to a case, are able to double click on this hyperlink to view new documents once without charge. PACER login and password must be entered to view pleadings.
If you wish to view additional documents, query the database or generate reports, you must have an active PACER account. Please visit the PACER Service Center's website at www.PACER.gov for information about PACER, how to register for and access PACER and fees associated with PACER use. Please note that if quarterly PACER usage does not exceed $15, fee for that quarter are waived.
8. How does the system work?
To file documents electronically, attorneys convert their word processing documents
to a format called PDF (otherwise known as Adobe Portable Document Format) then
send the documents to the court via the court’s web page. PDF is a secure
protocol which preserves the formatting of the document as it is transmitted
over the Internet. An electronic acknowledgment is immediately returned to the
attorney verifying that the document has been successfully transmitted.
9. How does the court handle documents that are filed in paper form?
Any case documents that are filed in paper form are scanned by the court and
the images are made available through the ECF system. Please see
LBR 5005-1, Electronic Case Filing, for additional information.
10. What are the benefits and features of using ECF?
There are a number of significant benefits and features:
a) registered attorneys are able to file documents with the court 24 hours
per day, 7 days per week;
b) full case information is available to attorneys, parties and the general
public through the Internet -- this includes the ability to view and print the
full text of all filed documents;
c) registered attorneys can receive notices electronically in ECF cases;
d) the out_of_pocket expense for attorneys is typically very low since the
ECF system uses Internet standard software;
e) there are generally savings with respect to time, messenger services, parking
11. What are the hardware and software requirements for ECF?
a. Internet Service Provider (ISP)
b. Internet Explorer or Firefox.
NOTE: As of March 1, 2008, Time Warner's AOL will end the development and technical support of their Netscape Navigator browser. CM/ECF and PACER users are advised that Netscape Navigator is no longer supported by our court and Internet Explorer or Firefox should be used. Both are available for free download from their respective vendor's website.
c. A 56k modem, DSL line, or cable modem
d. Software to convert electronic documents or scanned images to PDF format.
There are many programs which will do this. Adobe
Acrobat being one of them. PDFZone lists many other programs for creating PDF documents.
NOTE: Most PDF creation software must be purchased. Do not convert your word
processing documents to PDF format until you have purchased and installed the
PDF creation software. If you are using third party petition preparation software,
check with those vendors for which PDF creation software is compatible with
You will need Acrobat's
Adobe Reader to view your PDF's.
e. A scanner for paper-only documents that are not stored in a software format.
Always set the scanner to 300-250 dpi or less, black and white, and 8 1/2 by
11 paper size. Any single document submitted to CM/ECF can be no larger than 5.0 MegaBytes (MB).
12. How do I get online with an Internet Service Provider (ISP)?
List by City
List by County
The following is a list of some of the larger ISP's. The court does not endorse
or warranty the service of any vendor.
Qwest Internet Service
XO Internet Access
NOTE: If you use a modem to connect to your Internent service provider, we
recommend one with a speed of at least 56k. We further recommend the use of
a DSL line in lieu of a standard modem line.
13. What Windows based petition software should I use?
Following is a list of Windows based petition software. The court does
not endorse or warranty the service of any vendor. If you have a problem with
your petition software, please contact the software provider directly.
NOTE: If you are using alternative software other than Adobe Acrobat to produce
your .PDF files, you must check with your vendor to assure compatibility with
your Petition Software.
14. How do I get ECF training?
ECF training is available on the courtís Website at no cost. Simply visit http://www.wawb.uscourts.gov/training/index.html and select any of the lessons listed for an interactive training session. For new users, complete the suggested lessons on our site and send us an email when finished.