Electronic Filing and Access to Court Documents

The United States District Court for the Central District of California, like other federal courts, uses two online database systems to make court documents available to the public and to allow attorneys and parties to file documents electronically in pending cases.  A brief description of these systems is provided below.

Note that electronic filing is mandatory for attorneys in all civil and criminal cases in the Central District of California.  All documents filed by attorneys must be filed electronically unless exempted by Local Rule 5-4.2 or Local Criminal Rule 49-1.2.  If you are not represented by a lawyer, you may continue to file documents in paper; however, you may also be eligible to apply for permission to file documents electronically in a specific case.  Click here for more information.

Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER)

Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) is an electronic public access service that allows users to obtain case and docket information from federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts.  If you want online access to documents filed in Central District cases, you must have a PACER account.  To establish a PACER account, contact the PACER Service Center (800-676-6856) or register online

Case information cannot be obtained over the phone from the Court.  PACER provides online access to case information for a fee of $0.10 per page, though the first $30 of charges per quarter per user are waived.  The Court also provides free access to PACER at public terminals in the Clerk’s Office at each of the Central District’s courthouses.

If you experience difficulty with your PACER login, contact the PACER Service Center at 800/676-6856.

Case Management/Electronic Case Filing (CM/ECF) System

The Case Management/Electronic Case Filing (CM/ECF) System is the federal judiciary’s comprehensive online case management system for all appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts.  CM/ECF provides more functionality than PACER, including the ability to electronically file cases and documents, to control electronic service and notice of documents, and to update a user’s contact information for the electronic service of documents.  Until recently, users who wanted to take advantage of these additional functions, such as e-filing, needed to obtain separate credentials from each court to log in to that court’s CM/ECF site in order to do so.  This is changing as federal courts gradually move to the Next Generation (NextGen) of CM/ECF.  NextGen is the culmination of a multi-year project headed by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to provide for the current and future filing and case management needs of all CM/ECF users.  Users will need only one set of login credentials to access PACER and the CM/ECF sites of all NextGen courts.

The Central District of California upgraded its CM/ECF software to NextGen on February 18, 2020.  For users familiar with prior versions of CM/ECF, the user interface of NextGen CM/ECF will look familiar.  However, users who had access to the prior version of CM/ECF will need to link their old CM/ECF accounts to their PACER accounts after February 18, 2020, in order to maintain access to e-filing and other CM/ECF functions.  If you have an upgraded, individual PACER account and you know your old CM/ECF login and password, you have everything you need to link your accounts, which you will be prompted to do the first time you log in to CM/ECF on or after February 18, 2020.  (For step-by-step instructions, with screenshots, click here.)  If you were not an e-filer before February 18, 2020, you do not remember your old CM/ECF credentials, or you need additional information, click one of the links below for help:


People Without Lawyers