File this under "Things They Don't Teach You In Law School": The nuances pertaining to the electronic case filing (ECF) system in the D.C. District Court.
Sure, it may seem like a no-brainer and you've probably used the ECF system in other jurisdictions, but there are certain exceptions, requirements and ways to handle a computer meltdown that are applicable to the district court.
So, here are five things to remember when e-filing your documents.
Login information is issued by the court. The D.C. District Court's Clerk's Office will be the one to issue an ECF login and password. To get the login information, attorneys must be active members of the D.C. District Court's Bar, be a federal government attorney, or allowed to practice pro hac vice.
E-filings may be read differently. Studies show that judges may read ECF documents differently, so be sure to organize your pleadings in a clear manner. For example, use subheads for each element of the claim and write a paragraph summarizing each argument at the beginning of each section.
Redact personal information. Some personal identifiers must be redacted or excluded from your ECF documents. These identifiers include: Social Security numbers, an individual's date of birth (birth year alone is okay), financial account numbers, and names of minor children, according to the local rules.
Exceptions to using ECF. There are some documents that can be filed via the tradition paper way. If your exhibit or attachment exceeds 500 pages, is in a format that's not conducive to e-filing (ie. DVD, charts), is illegible when scanned, or filed under seal, then you can file those items in person.
Dealing with technical problems. If you're having technical difficulties with the ECF system, notify a Clerk Office's immediately. If you're unable to complete an electronic filing due to tech problems, the court may grant you more time. However, this doesn't mean that you'll get an extension on a statute of limitations, so give yourself plenty of time for potential computer errors. When you're given leave to fix an incorrectly filed document, the document will be considered filed on the date it was first presented for e-filing or when it was presented in the correct electronic format no later than the next business day.
If you have any problems with the ECF system or need clarification on the rules, contact the D.C. District Court's Clerk's Office at (202) 354-3080.