CM/ECF - Criticism


Dr Joseph Zernik (Review (2010),) has severely criticised the CM/ECF apparatus. He claims that there is the possibility of large-scale computer fraud in the design and operation of both PACER and CM/ECF. Zernik makes a number of points in the published review. Firstly, authentication records (NEFs - Notice of Electronic Filing) of judicial records (minutes, orders, judgments) are concealed from public access so that the public is unable to distinguish valid records from void records, both being published by the courts in PACER. Also the NEF is invalid as it lacks a certification statement (for example "I, the undersigned, hereby certify...") and it fails to state the name and authority of the person issuing the NEF (the Deputy Clerk of the Court). There is no valid signature, attached to the NEF, either graphic or digital and instead carries a machine generated encrypted "checksum" string. Zernik concludes that the system as a whole undermines the accountability of the Court clerk who should provide integrity of court records.

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