E-Filing Civil Case Opening

  • What is the size limit of a PDF document to be filed in CM/ECF?

    35 MB.  This size is not necessarily dependent on the number of pages of the document, as scanned documents generate larger file sizes than electronically generated PDF documents.  Please note that Local Rule 5-4.3.1 prohibits PDF images created by scanning paper documents unless the document is an exhibit and the filer does not possess a word-processing-file version.  Attachments that exceed 35 MB must be divided into sub-volumes.  Refer to Local Rule 5-4.3.1 for more information.

  • Which personal data identifiers should be redacted?
    Refer to Fed. R. Civ. P. 5.2 and Local Rules 5.2-1 and 5.2-2:
    -Dates of Birth: redact to the year of birth
    -Names of Minor Children: redact to the initials
    -Social Security and Taxpayer Identification Numbers: redact to the last four digits
    -Financial Account Numbers: redact to the last four digits
    -Home Addresses: redact to city and state
    -Passport and Driver License Numbers: redact in their entirety
  • How do I file a sealed case?

    Sealed cases are not eligible for electronic case-opening.  All documents in sealed cases must be filed with the Clerk in paper format.  See L.R. 79-5.2.1.

  • What if I forgot to indicate related case(s) on the civil cover sheet?
    File a Notice of Related Cases (see Local Rule 83-1.3).
  • Can I open a case 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?

    Yes.  A case will be deemed filed on the date the electronic submission of the complaint, including all exhibits and attachments to that complaint, is completed, according to Pacific Standard Time or Pacific Daylight Time, whichever is in effect. 

  • What other documents must be filed concurrently in electronic format when I open a civil case electronically?
    In CIVIL cases, a Civil Cover Sheet (Form CV-71) and a Notice of Interested Parties (Form CV-30; see L.R. 7.1-1) are required.  It may also be necessary to file the following documents, depending on your case: Corporate Disclosure Statement (see Fed. R. Civ. P. 7.1; L.R. 7.1-1); Report on the Filing or Determination of an Action Regarding a Patent or Trademark (Form AO-120); Report on the Filing or Determination of an Action or Appeal Regarding a Copyright (Form AO-121); Notice of Related Cases (see L.R. 83-1.3); Notice of Pendency of Other Actions or Proceedings (see L.R. 83-1.4); Notice of Appearance (Form G-123); Consent to Proceed Before a U.S. Magistrate Judge; Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis or Without Prepayment of Fees (Form CV-60 or CV-60P); Application of Non-Resident Attorney to Appear in a Specific Case Pro Hac Vice (Form G-64).
    In MISCELLANEOUS cases, you may also be required to file one or more of the forms listed above.
  • Do I have to deliver a mandatory chambers copy of my complaint to the assigned judge?
    Yes.  Local Rule 5-4.5, regarding the delivery of mandatory chambers copies, continues to apply to all electronically filed documents – including complaints and other case-initiating documents filed electronically.  Mandatory chambers copies of complaints must include the notice of assignment of judge attached as the first page.
  • Can I open any type of civil case electronically?

    Every case-initiating document filed in the Central District must be filed electronically, except:  (a) in criminal cases; (b) in sealed cases, or where leave to file the case under seal is sought; or (c) where the filer is exempt from e-filing pursuant to Local Rule 5-4.2(a).

  • I filed a case and my personal contact information is incorrect on the docket. How do I correct it?

    You must update your account information online in the Court’s electronic filing system.  Find instructions for updating your account at here.  BE SURE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IS CORRECT.  See Local Rule 5-4.8.1.

  • Must attorneys open their own civil cases electronically?

    Yes.  Attorneys are required by L.R. 3-2 to file all new civil actions electronically, unless exempted from electronic filing pursuant to Local Rule 5-4.2 (e.g., sealed cases).

  • Where is the event to file the civil cover sheet?

    On the “Civil Events” screen, under the “Other Filings” category.  Click on “Miscellaneous Filings,” then select “Civil Cover Sheet (CV-71)” from the “Available Events” menu.

  • How do I add a large number of parties to a case? My CM/ECF session times out before I am able to add all parties named in my case.

    If you need to add more than 10 parties to your case, complete your initial filing by adding just the first 10 parties, and then use the CM/ECF event called “Add Additional Parties (Attorney Civil Case Opening)” to add the remaining parties to your case.  See our guide, Instructions for Adding Additional Parties in CM/ECF, for detailed instructions on how to use this event.

  • I added a party in error. How do I remove the party from the docket?
    Clerk’s Office staff will review the complaint to verify party information, and will remove any parties added in error.
  • I forgot to add a party when I filed my complaint electronically. Can I go back and add this party now?

    Yes.  If a party is named in your complaint or other claim-initiating document, but you inadvertently failed to add that party when you electronically filed your document, you may add the missing party now using the CM/ECF event called “Add Additional Parties (Attorney Civil Case Opening).”  See our guide, Instructions for Adding Additional Parties in CM/ECF for detailed instructions on how to use this event.  However, you may not use this event to add a party unless that party is named in a claim-initiating document already on file in your case.

  • How do I get a summons issued?

    You may file a proposed summons (using the standard summons form, AO-440) electronically at the time you file the complaint.  (If you do not file a proposed summons electronically at the time you file the complaint, you may do so at any time within the prescribed time frame set forth in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.)  The Clerk’s Office will issue the official summons electronically after a judge is assigned to the case.  You will receive a Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) when the Clerk’s Office enters the summons on the docket.  Click on the hyperlink in the NEF to access the summons, save it, and print copies of the summons for service on each defendant.

    The Summons AO-440 Form must be properly completed.  Please refer to the Summons in a Civil Action page for instructions and sample completed summons.

  • How do I get a judge assigned to the case?

    In most cases, judges will be assigned after the initial filing has been processed by the Clerk; you will then receive a Notice of Electronic Filing detailing the judicial assignment.  However, some miscellaneous cases are not assigned to a judge.  The docket for such cases will reflect the initials “UA” (for “unassigned”) next to the case number.

  • Pay.gov is not working. Can I submit my filing fee a different way?

    If Pay.gov is not working when you open your case and file the complaint or other case-initiating document, you should try again to pay the filing fee via Pay.gov within two business days using the civil event “Credit Card Payments.”  You may instead pay the fee in person at the Clerk’s Office Intake Section or mail it to the Clerk’s Office, but it must be received within two business days of the date of filing.

  • How do I file a complaint if I’m also filing a request to proceed in forma pauperis?

    File your complaint electronically.  During the case opening process, you will be given the opportunity to indicate that a request to proceed in forma pauperis will be filed.  As soon as you have completed the case opening process and e-filed your complaint, you must then e-file either a Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis with Declaration in Support (Form CV-60) or a Request to Proceed Without Prepayment of Fees with Declaration in Support (Form CV-60P).

  • How do I pay my filing fee?

    The filing fee must be paid online at the time the complaint or other case-initiating document is filed.  The fee must be paid by credit card using “Pay.gov,” a secure government-wide collection portal, to which the filer will be directed at the time of filing.  Information about “Pay.gov” is available at Pay.gov.

    If you need to pay a filing fee subsequent to the filing of the case-initiating document, use the event “Credit Card Payments” under the “Other Filings” menu on the Civil Events screen.

  • Can attorneys open their own criminal cases?

    No.  Not at this time.