History and Associated Applications
CM/ECF was first implemented in 1996 in the Northern District of Ohio to handle a large number of asbestos cases. Pilot programs were implemented in the Western District of Missouri, the Eastern District of New York and the District of Oregon in late 1997. National rollout of the system started in bankruptcy courts in 2001, 2002 in district courts, and in 2004 in appellate courts. CM/ECF is not used in state courts, but several states have moved toward implementation of comparable systems for at least some cases. As of January, 2008, there are about 200 courts running CM/ECF.
PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records), the Federal Judiciary's electronic public access system, still provides access to docket entries as it did before CM/ECF; however, CM/ECF allows for access to pleadings, motion papers, briefs, and other documents filed by the parties and attorneys in the case (with the exception of any documents permitted to be filed under seal or in camera). For most documents, an access charge of 8 cents per page (current as of 1/1/07) is levied to defray the cost of maintaining the system. In compliance with the E-Government Act of 2002, written opinions that "set forth a reasoned explanation for a court's decision" are free of charge. To facilitate online access, courts implementing CM/ECF require attorneys to file copies of most litigation papers electronically, instead of or in addition to the traditional filing of paper copies.
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