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Adobe Acrobat Related 

General Bankruptcy FAQs


What is CM/ECF & is it available in the Western District of Wisconsin?

Case Management/Electronic Case Filing (CM/ECF) is the Federal Judiciary's electronic case filing system that allows trained and certified users to file new bankruptcy cases, adversary proceedings or documents right from their computer.  The system uses standard computer hardware, an Internet connection and browser, plus software to format a document for electronic filing. However, pro se parties or individuals without internet access will still be able to file and retrieve documents and information by the traditional paper, VCIS and PACER methods.

Yes. The Western District of Wisconsin began using the Electronic Case Filing system February 4, 2002.

What are the benefits of CM/ECF for attorneys, trustees, and the general public?

Benefits include: 24-hour availability for filing bankruptcy cases, adversary proceedings, and documents; immediate confirmation to filers of documents; automatic e-mail notice of case activity; 24-hour access to electronic files to view and print docket sheets, claims registers, and other reports; reduced paper and copying costs; and reduced courier and mailing costs.

How does electronic filing work?

To file electronically, attorneys create their documents on their computers just as they normally do. Instead of printing the document on paper, however, attorneys save it in a portable document format (pdf) that can be read by others with all formatting intact regardless of the type of computer or word processor they use. Attorneys then access the electronic filing system through their Internet provider over the World Wide Web. After establishing their identity by providing a Court-assigned user identification name and password that serves as their signature for electronically filed documents, attorneys indicate the case number that their document applies to, the party the document is being filed on behalf of, and the type of document (answer, motion, etc.) being filed. The document is then sent over the Internet to the Court's computer which immediately sends a Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) back to the attorney's screen verifying that the document has been received. The NEF can be printed or saved to disk for future reference.

Additionally, the system automatically creates a docket entry and makes both the updated docket sheet as well as the document itself instantly available to anyone with access to the Internet and a PACER account. The system also sends e-mail notification of the filing to case participants who are registered to use the CM/ECF system. 

What am I charged for in CM/ECF?

Users are not charged for filing documents using CM/ECF. Case participants who are registered to use the CM/ECF system receive a free electronic copy of all documents filed. When you receive a Notice of Electronic Filing in your e-mail, you'll note that the case number and document number are both hyperlinks. You can click on the document number hyperlink to retrieve the pleading. The first retrieval when you have been served is free. All users are advised to print or save the document during the initial viewing period in order to avoid future charges. Subsequent retrievals, even of documents you have electronically filed, will be charged ten cents per page. The maximum charge for any imaged document is $3.00 (the equivalent of 30 pages). The cap does not apply to name searches, reprots that are not case-specific and transcripts of federal court proceedings. By Judicial Conference policy, if your usage does not exceed $15 in a quarter, fees for that quarter are waived, effectively making the service free for most users.

What do I need to file electronically?

System requirements are minimal and inexpensive. All that is needed is a personal computer, an Internet connection, a browser, such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox, and Adobe Acrobat PDF Writer (to convert documents from a word processor format to portable document format). In addition, attorneys need a scanner for imaging documents to be filed electronically that are not available in electronic format such as Certificates and Employee Pay Advices.

Can the general public view CM/ECF cases and the documents in those cases?

Access to view cases and documents in CM/ECF is available to anyone with a PACER login and password. A PACER account may be obtained by visiting the U.S. Courts' website.

Who may file documents in the CM/ECF System?

Filing a document in CM/ECF requires a login and password. At the present time, filing access is limited to attorneys, bankruptcy case trustees, U.S. Trustee, and Limited Use Participants. 

What is a Limited Use Participant?

Attorneys and creditor representative may obtain a "Limited Use Password" for access to the CM/ECF system. Access to the CM/ECF system is restricted to filing of the following documents: Creditor Request for Notices and/or Notices of Appearance, Proofs of Claim, Withdrawals or Transfers of Claim, and Reaffirmation Agreements. Once a login and password has been issued to a limited use participant, the "last and first name field" are not to be changed as they are unique to the business entered.

How do PACER and CM/ECF fit together?

A separate CM/ECF login is required to file documents. Along with your CM/ECF login, a PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) account is also required to retrieve/view documents from the CM/ECF system. A PACER account may be obtained at the U.S. Courts' website.

Think PACER for searching and CM/ECF for filing. PACER searches can find CM/ECF documents but you need a separate account to use CM/ECF to file documents.


Access Related

How does an attorney become an authorized CM/ECF user?

In order to file electronically, you must first register. The necessary forms can be obtained from the clerk's office and from our website. Once these forms have been completed and reviewed by the Clerk's Office, you will be contacted regarding training. Upon completion of training, a live login and password will be issued that will allow you to access the system to file documents electronically. In addition, you will need a PACER account to retrieve/view information from the system. Register for a PACER account on the U.S. Courts' website.

Can I have the same filing login for all courts I practice in?

Since each court assigns the login in the CM/ECF system, it is not possible to obtain a universal filing login. However, you may request a particular login and password when you register, so you may be able to use the same login for many courts.

Can an attorney authorize someone in their office (such as a paralegal)
to use their login name and password to file documents in CM/ECF?

Yes, but the court recommends that such access be very limited and controlled since whatever is filed under that name and password is deemed to have the attorney's signature on it. Logins must match signatures. Attorneys cannot share logins.

My firm already has a PACER login and password. Do I need to
establish a separate PACER account, or can I use the firm account?

The firm PACER account can be used for the query component of CM/ECF. However, if you would like to keep the billing separate from the firm's, you will need to establish a new PACER account. A PACER account may be obtained at:

Why do I get the Site Certification pages?

The first time you go into the CM/ECF site, you'll get a series of Site Certificate pages, letting you know that the Court is encrypting the data while you're signed on to CM/ECF. On the third screen, you'll have the opportunity to check a box that says "Accept this certificate forever." If you check this box these screens will not come up again. Simply click on "Next," "Finish," and finally "Continue" on the last screen.

Why do I get a second login screen after I've already logged into CM/ECF?

This is the PACER login screen that you get whenever you request a report or document from a case. The first time you log in, click on the box that says "Make this my default login" and you shouldn't have to log in repeatedly.

Why am I getting an invalid login message?

Make sure the proper login and password are being used for the proper database. (PACER login for querying; CM/ECF login for filing). Check the location of the web site in the location window of your browser. Be sure you have the correct court for that login and password.

I am changing firms. Do I need to establish a new CM/ECF login and password
What should we do when an attorney leaves the firm?

When an attorney leaves a firm, both the attorney and the firm need to consider the implications to the CM/ECF noticing system. If cases will move with the attorney, all the attorney needs to do is change his/her e-mail notification setup and submit a change of address to the Clerk's Office. If cases will remain with the firm, the firm will need to ensure that the Court docket accurately reflects the proper attorney of record and that the new attorney of record is properly set up to receive e-mail notification. Law firms may also wish to consider the best method of handling e-mail addressed to the firm for the departed attorney. Summarily removing the attorney from the firm's e-mail system with no further action may result in notifications being missed. Firms may wish to consider whether their own e-mail systems should forward such e-mails to the attorney at his/her new address, or to another attorney within the firm.



What are the rules and procedures regarding filing

Rule 5005(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure was amended to authorize individual courts by local rule to permit papers to be filed by electronic means.  New amendments to Rules 7005, 9006 and 9022 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, which went into effect December 1, 2001, authorize service of documents by electronic means if parties consent. 

In accordance with the Federal Rules, the Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Wisconsin established local rules authorizing electronic submission of documents.  Rule 5005-1 authorizes the electronic submission of pleadings which conform to the court's administrative procedures regarding electronic filing.  These administrative procedures contain specific details regarding the process and procedure for electronic filing.  Rule 7004-1 provides that anyone who registers to use the electronic case filing system agrees to receive all notices electronically, and specifically waives the right to receive notice by conventional means (i.e., first class mail).

Will CM/ECF become mandatory at some point in the future in the Western District of Wisconsin?

The Western District is required to utilize the case management component of the CM/ECF system because the prior BANCAP docketing system has been discontinued.  At this time, no party is required by local rule to file pleadings or other papers electronically, although all parties are strongly encouraged to do so whenever possible.  The bankruptcy trustees for the Western District do utilize the system for all trustee-related functions, and the judges strongly encourage all members of the bankruptcy bar to consider participating in the system as well.

How is the requirement of an original signature (attorney and/or debtor) handled for CM/ECF cases?

These are two somewhat distinct issues: attorney signatures and debtor signatures. 

Attorney signatures: When registering to use the system, attorneys sign an agreement to the effect that use of their login name and password (whether by themselves personally or by delegation to another person in their office) constitutes their signatures on the documents electronically filed. The electronically filed document will indicate a signature, e.g. "/s/ Jane Doe." Documents filed under an individual attorney's login and password will be deemed to have been signed by that attorney for purposes of Fed. R. Bank. Pro. 9011. Therefore, logins should not be shared. The "signature" contained on the underlying pleading is merely to indicate to those parties who might only receive a copy of the pleading through conventional means that the pleading was in fact signed, and by whom.

Debtor signatures: When the original petition is filed electronically, the attorney for the debtor(s) is required to obtain and keep a hard copy of the originally executed "Declaration Re: Electronic Filing". The electronically filed document will indicate a signature, e.g. "/s/ Jane Doe." Upon request, the original signed document must be provided to the Court or other parties to review. 

How will signatures be obtained when a document is filed electronically
that requires the signature of more than one party/attorney?

The filer will obtain the signature on the document. The filer will then file the document electronically, either by scanning the document to produce a copy of the original signature, or by indicating the signatories, e.g., "/s/ Jane Doe." For evidentiary purposes the parties are encouraged to retain the original document in their records.

How are electronic documents served?

The system is set up so that when a court user or attorney files a document with the court, a Notice of Electronic Filing is generated that includes information about what was filed, the text of the docket entry, the unique document stamp, and a list of case participants that receive e-mail notification of the filing and a list of those that do not. The Notice of Electronic Filing sent to those listed as receiving e-mail notification contains a hyperlink to the document.

Parties who are not registered to use the CM/ECF system must be served in the traditional manner, with paper documents.

How are Orders signed?

Presently, the judges sign orders in one of two ways. First, the judge may sign a paper copy of the order, which is then scanned and docketed.

Second, the judge will affix an electronic signature to an electronic version of the order, which is then docketed. The first page of the proposed order must have a three (3) inch margin at the top. There should not be a date or signature line for the judge on any page of the order and at the end of the text on the order, place three pound signs (# # #) in the center of the page to indicate the end of the order.

How do I get my free copy of newly filed documents?

Attorneys of record and parties in a case that are registered to use the CM/ECF system, receive one free electronic copy of all documents filed. Attorneys and parties will receive an e-mail message containing a hyperlink to the document filed. Click on the hyperlink to view the document. The hyperlink will expire after the earlier of these two events: the first use or 15 days. Any time that same hyperlink is accessed after it has expired, the user will be asked for a PACER login and password and will be charged to view the document. All users are advised to print or save the document during the initial viewing period in order to avoid future charges.

Why can I get a docket sheet, but not any of the documents provided?

This may occur in you are using an incompatible browser. Check your browser setting. Another problem maybe that you do not need Acrobat software (i.e. Adobe Reader) to view a docket sheet, but you do need it to view documents.

If I forward an e-mail notification I received to another individual, will that individual be charged for the document?

The document within an e-mail notification is accessed by a hyperlink. This hyperlink takes you to a site which will allow the first viewing to be free. The first individual to view the linked document will not be charged. If you forward the e-mail notification without viewing the document, the recipient of the e-mail will be able to view the document for free. Anytime after the first viewing, a charge will be incurred to view the document. All users are advised to print or save the document during the initial viewing period in order to avoid future charges.

How will the filing fee be paid when a petition or other documents are filed electronically?

Attorneys are required to pay bankruptcy fees for cases filed electronically the same day they are filed. Add "" to allow a pop-up to appear. Follow the prompts all the way through. If the fees are not paid the same day, you will be locked out of the system by noon the following day. Once locked out, you can make the payment under "Utilities".

Is there a limit to the size of the document being filed in CM/ECF?

No, but the larger the file, the longer it will take to upload into a case. We recommend keeping your file size below one megabyte.

How can I verify whether or not all the documents I filed electronically were posted?

To ensure the documents transmitted arrive in their entirety, it is important to examine the document after it is received by the court. This can be done by viewing the docket sheet for the case and selecting the transmitted document. The number of the transmitted documents appears on your Notice of Electronic Filing.

How will the clerk's office ensure that documents have been filed accurately?

The clerk's office will review every document that is electronically filed to ensure that: 1) the uploaded image matches the case name and number, 2) the correct event was selected from the System, 3) the document was referred to the appropriate document (when necessary), and 4) the document indicates a signature, e.g. "/s/ John Doe."

How will erroneous docket entries be corrected?

CM/ECF allows court personnel to edit errors made in the docket entry. Besides making the appropriate corrections, the Court will notify the filer either by e-mail, phone, or an electronic Notification will be docketed. When necessary, the filer may be asked to re-file the document. The Court will use a "corrective entry" event, which officially records substantive errors on the docket sheet and will generate a Notice of Electronic Filing. This allows the distribution of the correct information to the participants who originally received the erroneous information.

Will any documents be required to be filed conventionally rather than electronically?

Documents under seal and exhibits/large attachments should be filed conventionally rather than electronically.

Documents under seal: The motion to file a document under seal may be filed electronically.  However, the actual document is prepared in paper form and submitted to the Court. 

Exhibits/large attachments: Trial Exhibits can be submitted conventionally.  Exhibits which are referenced by motions or other pleadings may be submitted to the Court in summary form. The summary of exhibits should be part of the document and should include a statement that the actual exhibits are available to counsel and the Court upon request. The actual exhibits must be brought to Court at any time they are intended to be used as evidence.

Will CM/ECF allow docketing in closed cases?

Court staff and attorneys are able to docket in closed cases. A warning message will be returned.

How do I docket a responsive pleading?

See the tip sheet for instructions.


Adobe Acrobat Related

What is a PDF document?

Portable Document Format (PDF) is a universal file format that preserves all the fonts, formatting, graphics, and color of any source document, regardless of the application and platform used to create it. PDF files are compact and can be shared, viewed, navigated, and printed exactly as intended by anyone with free Adobe Acrobat Reader software. You can convert any document to PDF using Adobe Acrobat software All of the pleadings in the CM/ECF system are stored in PDF format.

What is Adobe Acrobat?

Adobe Acrobat is a commercial software product from Adobe that allows you to save your documents in PDF(portable document format). Adobe also distributes a program called Acrobat Reader that allows you to view and print (but not create) PDF documents. The most recent version of Adobe Acrobat is available at (check the website for pricing). Note: Acrobat PDFWriter is part of the Adobe Acrobat package.

Do I have Adobe Acrobat Writer?

To check if you have Acrobat Writer, follow the steps below:

  • Click on the "Start" button (lower left corner of computer screen).
  • Click on "Settings."
  • Click on "Printers."
  • Locate Acrobat PDF Writer.
  • If it is there, your system has the capability to print to PDF.


I see I can get Acrobat Reader for free on Adobe's website. Why should I pay for it?

Adobe does provide a PDF Reader for free on its website and that works fine for viewing documents. However, in order to create and subsequently file PDF documents, you will need to obtain Adobe Acrobat, version 3.0 or higher (or another program to convert files to PDF).

Is it possible to have the Adobe Acrobat Reader open in a separate window, one not a part of my browser, or alternatively, if the Adobe Reader opens on my PC as a separate window, is it possible to make it open within the browser.

The answer to both questions is "yes". In Adobe Acrobat or the Adobe Reader, click on File>Preferences>General. In the Options section at the bottom of the window labeled "General Preferences," check the box (by clicking on it if it is blank) beside "Web Browser Integration" to make the PDF document open within the browser. Uncheck that box (by clicking on it if it is checked) to cause Acrobat or the Adobe Rader to open in a separate window.

Do I need a scanner

The actual document you submit as a PDF is usually generated using a word processor or bankruptcy case preparation software. Generally, if you produce documents on a personal computer and print them on a printer, you can produce a PDF version of these documents without a scanner. BAPCA requires certain documents to be scanned, i.e. Certificate of Credit Counseling and pay advices.

If attachments, exhibits, or other items exist only on paper, you will need to scan them to submit them electronically as a PDF. Low-volume scanners are inexpensive, some costing less than $100.

How do I create a PDF file?

The optimal method for creating a PDF document for filing in CM/ECF is to create the document directly from a word processing application using Adobe Acrobat's PDFWriter. After you have created the document in your word processing application, "print" the document, and select the "printer" called "Acrobat PDFWriter" from the drop down list of available printers.  That process will actually save a file in PDF format, with a ".pdf" file extension.

Note: The newer versions of some word processors include the ability to publish a document to PDF built right into the word-processing software.  In WordPerfect 9 the "Publish to PDF" option is on the File menu. This option is not recommended because the file created is unnecessarily large.

How do I save a PDF text file to my word processor?

There are a number of ways to save a PDF file.

  1. If the Adobe Reader opens up within the browser instead of a separate window, use the Save Frame option under File.
  2. If the Adobe Reader opens in a separate window, use the Save As option under File.
  3. You may also save a PDF document by right-clicking on the link to that document and then clicking on "Save Link As."



How can I create a shortcut icon on my desktop that will take me directly to the CM/ECF site?

While on the Desktop screen, right click the mouse and then click on "New," then "Shortcut." The next screen will ask for a command line. For example, to setup a shortcut to the CM/ECF live site, type "" in the space and then click "next." Enter the name of the shortcut and click "Finish."  Other options are to bookmark this site or add this site to your personal toolbar.

Firefox is available free at Adobe also has a website

I can't get to your CM/ECF website, but other attorneys at my firm don't have that problem?

If you get to the login screen, and the system hangs when you try to complete your login, then something is blocking the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) port 443 (that's the point where we transition from web port 80 to SSL port 443). The systems person at your firm needs to look at the router and any firewalls the firm has set up to determine where the blocking is taking place. Attorneys at a firm may experience this problem while other attorneys at the same firm do not, because they may be directed to different proxy servers.

When I get an e-mail that something is filed, I can't view the document. What's wrong?

You can open each document once for free. If you try to view the document again and you get a login screen when you request the document, make sure you enter your PACER login and password and not your CM/ECF login and password. Also make sure your e-mail system is set to open links with an Internet Browser, e.g., Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox. Also, some documents filed by the Trustee and U.S. Trustee are virtual so a document will not be attached.

When I try to get my document from a Notice of Electronic Filing, I get an "Internal Server Error" message. Is your server having trouble?

The first time you use the link in a Notice of Electronic Filing to view a document, you use up the "free look" you get. Every subsequent time you use the link in the Notice of Electronic Filing, you'll get a PACER login screen. If you use your CM/ECF login at that point, instead of a PACER login, you may provoke the "Internal Server Error"message. Just hit BACK and try a PACER login and password instead.

How long will it take to transmit or receive a document?

The time it takes to transmit or receive a document primarily depends on the user's Internet Service Provider (ISP), modem speed, and the type of PDF file being ransmitted or received. The CM/ECF system will accept both text and image PDF files. The text PDF file is usually the result of saving a document from a word processor in PDF format. The image PDF file is usually created by scanning a paper document in PDF format. The text file can be transmitted and received 15 to 20 times faster than the image file because it is much smaller in size. While this difference in speed is usually not noticeable in a 1 or 2 page document, the difference can be significant when a document reaches about 20 pages in length. 

Here are a couple of rough approximations of what you might expect for upload or download time for different kinds of connections for a megabyte of data (approximately one million characters, spaces included). These are only approximations. 

  • T1 line with little traffic: 1 megabyte per second 
  • DSL or cable: 2-5 seconds per megabyte 
  • 56k modem: 3-7 minutes per megabyte 
I got a "DATA MISSING" error, and got dumped back to a login prompt. What's wrong?

If you attempt to re-size your browser window, you may provoke the error Data Missing - This document resulted from a POST operation and has expired from the cache. If you wish you can repost the form data to recreate the document by pressing the reload button." No matter what you do, you'll have to log in and start over. You can minimize your browser window without ill effect, but trying to change its size will guarantee you a free trip back to the login prompt. This is a known bug in the application, and has been reported to the developers and will, we hope, be corrected in a future release.

I can get a docket sheet, but when I try to retrieve a document, I can't read the file?

You do not need Acrobat software to view a docket sheet, but you do need it to view documents. You might have Acrobat PDF Reader on your machine, but have not connected it to Netscape. Another possibility is that the entry may be virtual or it was filed before the court started scanning in 2001.

When I print an image from CM/ECF, the right edge gets cut off.

Click on the print icon. Click on "Shrink to Fit" box on the printer setup screen. Once you change this setting, it should stay that way for all PDF documents.

I tried to file a document but it says "format not recognized". What am I doing wrong?

All documents must be submitted in Adobe PDF (portable document format) with an extension of ".pdf." Two common errors occur. 

First, a user thinks that he/she saved the document in PDF. The user then tries to file the WordPerfect/Word version of the document; not the saved PDF version. 

Second, a user fails to indicate the full path name for the PDF file he/she wants to upload. Because the system could not find the file, it responded with the "format not recognized" message. The solution--provide the full path name when identifying the file (example: "c:\documents\motion.pdf") during the upload process.

I'm trying to docket an event and it tells me that this transaction has already been posted, but I look on the docket and it's not there.

What has probably happened is that you docketed an event for a case, and then clicked on the back button a few times to get to a point where you could enter another case number and then docketed another event. By clicking the back button, instead of clicking on ‘Bankruptcy Events' you are keeping the information pulled for the last case you docketed. As long as you click on the menu item instead of clicking on Back you'll be fine - only use the back button to correct a mistake on an event you are in the process of docketing, not to change cases.

Why can I not access a previous page viewed by clicking on the "Back" button on the browser after selecting a link?

Unlike most programs, a web browser will open multiple windows. In other words, two or more windows in which the browser appears may be active at the same time. Look at the tool bar at the bottom of the screen, this is the same bar where the start button is located. If the browser logo appears on two different buttons, you have more than one window open. Click on the button that is not active (not highlighted) to open the previous window. If there is only one window open, click on the "GO" menu item at the very top of the screen; a drop down menu will appear where you can click on the address of the page to which you wish to return. 

I receive a "Data Missing" error when I try to pring reports from CM/ECF.

Some users have reported when trying to print large dockets or other reports from the CM/ECF system that they received an error message stating: "Data Missing - This document resulted from a POST operation and has expired from the cache. If you wish you can repost the form data to recreate the document by pressing the reload button." To fix this problem, we recommend increasing the size of your cache dramatically. In Netscape 4, this can be accomplished by going to: Edit > Preferences. Double click on Advanced. Click on Cache. The size of the memory and disk cache will be displayed. Increase the size of each and click OK. You should close your browser and restart it before continuing. 

When I query a case in CM/ECF, it gives me the previous case I looked at instead.

Check your Cache settings in your browser. The "verify documents" entry should have the ‘once per session' or ‘every time' entry checked, but not the ‘never' entry. In Netscape 4, this can be found by clicking on Edit > Preferences > Advanced > Cache. The Netscape default of ‘once per session' will work fine.

My e-mail has changed. How do I modify my CM/ECF user account?

CM/ECF Account modifications (Addresses/E-mails/Telephone Numbers) are made via Utilities > Maintain Your ECF Account > Email Information to modify primary e-mail address or to add or modify additional e-mail addresses. Be sure to 'Submit' after modifications are made.

An assistant/secretary has left the firm. How do I remove their e-mail address?

CM/ECF Account modifications (Addresses/E-mails/Telephone Numbers) are made via Utilities > Maintain Your ECF Account > Email Information to modify primary e-mail address or to add or modify additional e-mail addresses. Be sure to 'Submit' after modifications are made.