Maine Bar Journal
Fall 2003 #9.
About Technology - Electronic Filing
Maine Bar JournalFall 2003About Technology - Electronic Filingby High CalkinsOn October 1, 2003, Maine's federal court went electronic. Maine was one of the first Districts in the country to require electronic filing in both civil and criminal cases, although bankruptcy courts have been requiring electronic filing for some time. All federal courts will be e-filing by 2005, according to Gary Bockweg, project manager for the Electronic Case Files system at the U.S. Courts Administrative Office.
CM/ECF implementation in the bankruptcy courts has been underway since early 2001. District court implementation began in 2002, and appellate court implementation is scheduled to begin in late 2004. Right now, appeals to the First Circuit require the entire case file to be converted to a paper file and sent physically to the appellate court.
CM/ECF systems are now in use in twenty-five district courts, sixty bankruptcy courts, the Court of International Trade, and the Court of Federal Claims. Most of these courts are accepting electronic filings. More than ten million cases are on CM/ECF systems. And more than forty thousand attorneys and others have filed documents over the Internet. Under current plans, the number of CM/ECF courts will increase steadily each month into 2005. Each court goes through an implementation process that takes about 10 months, and each month four to five additional courts complete the process.
Linda Jacobson, the ECF project manager for Maine, reports that the transition to all electronic filing has gone incredibly smoothly, most likely as a result of the eighteen months of preparation the courts went through before going online. More than six hundred lawyers and legal staff have been trained in the use of the system. Bob Guptil, who has done much of that training, has a great presentation which is also available on CD, at least for graduates of the training.
Here's how it works.
For those of you who haven't been through the training, here's how it works:
All documents filed with the court must be electronically converted to portable document format (PDF).
The court assigns an attorney a username and password.
To file a pleading, an attorney, or someone in the attorney's office, goes to the court website and logs in to the ECF database. Some basic information about the document is entered. You locate the PDF file on your computer and submit it...