SC Lawyer, July 2005, #4. Getting with the program: electronic case filing in the District of South Carolina.

AuthorBy Shiva V. Hodges and Virginia L. Vroegop

South Carolina Lawyer


SC Lawyer, July 2005, #4.

Getting with the program: electronic case filing in the District of South Carolina

South Carolina LawyerJuly 2005Getting with the program: electronic case filing in the District of South CarolinaBy Shiva V. Hodges and Virginia L. VroegopIf you are an attorney who practices in federal court, you are or soon will be using CM/ECF. The District of South Carolina implemented the Case Management/Electronic Case Filing (CM/ECF) system in late February 2005 as part of a nationwide mandate to streamline the process of creating, filing and noticing legal documents. Use of the system, which permits attorneys to file documents electronically over the Internet ("e-filing"), becomes mandatory in September 2005.

This introduction to CM/ECF is divided into two parts. Part One provides an overview of the system. Part Two contains pointers and warns of common pitfalls.

Part One - Overview

What is CM/ECF?

Unlike the old-school paper files, CM/ECF offers attorneys the ability to download and electronically store the text-searchable e-filed documents, which remain in ready-order and readily accessible. Litigants, chambers, court staff and the public can also simultaneously view the case file online. Best of all, you can file at any time, from any where, with no additional filing fees, as long as you have an Internet connection and know how to use the CM/ECF system. Online filing eliminates worries about service copies for other attorneys registered on the system, postage or courier services for hand delivery.

Likewise, there is no need to beat traffic to the courthouse before 4:30 p.m. or to make alternative filing arrangements. Opposing attorneys and associated pro hac vice counsel (yours and theirs) are served instantly with a Notice of Electronic Filing ("NEF") if they are registered either as Filing Users (attorneys registered to use ECF) or Pro Hac Vice Participants (attorneys admitted pro hac vice). All of this means faster service, less paper and long-term cost savings.

So, when will you see these rewards? The greatest benefits will result once the majority of the district's attorneys are registered and using CM/ECF and when each of us knows how to draw on the strengths of the system. There may be some bumps in the road as the court and the bar learn to embrace the new technology and work out the kinks, but the earlier you register and practice e-filing, the faster you and everyone else will benefit from the system.

How does e-filing work?

Although there are several steps involved, the CM/ECF system is easy to use. After preparing your document (e.g., pleading, motion, petition) using a conventional word processing software program (e.g., WordPerfect), you will convert it to a portable document file (PDF). Next, log on to CM/ECF through the district's Web site ( with a court-issued password, enter basic information relating to the case and document being filed, attach the document and submit it electronically to the court.

You will receive an instant e-notice verifying the court's receipt of the filing. This same notice is automatically served electronically on all other Filing Users and Pro Hac Vice Participants reflected on the docket sheet. Each of these recipients receives "one free look" and the opportunity to download the document. Attorneys and the general public are able to view or download additional copies at eight cents per page, with a maximum cost per document of $2.40.

Hard copy service is required only for local counsel who are not yet registered with CM/ECF. The NEF will advise you who requires traditional service.

The system also automatically creates a docket entry. The updated docket sheet, as well as the document itself, is instantly available through the PACER system.

Although existing document filing fees still apply, there are no additional fees for filing documents through CM/ECF. In the future, the District of South Carolina hopes to offer a site such as to allow online payment by credit card.

Getting with the program

The CM/ECF system for...

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