United States District Court - Northern District Court of California

Claudia Wilken, Chief Judge

Richard W. Wieking, Clerk of Court

Only Attorneys & Pro Se Litigants May E-File

In answering our questions and reaching this page, you have exhausted all the options for registering for ECF.  

But . . . if you are not an attorney, but must e-file for an attorney (that is, you assist an attorney as a paralegal, secretary or other law firm staff member), here is the solution for you:

Per Local Rule 5-1, an attorney may share ECF login information with a staff member who may e-file on behalf of the attorney (such as a paralegal or assistant). An attorney may also add a secondary email address to receive notification of e-filings ("NEFs") in the case. This is useful if the staff member does not have access to the attorney's email.

Why is E-Filing Registration Limited To Attorneys & Pro Se Litigants?  

Per Local Rule 5-1, the e-filing login and password together constitute the filer's signature for purposes of Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides:

(a) Signature. Every pleading, written motion, and other paper must be signed by at least one attorney of record in the attorney's nameā€”or by a party personally if the party is unrepresented. The paper must state the signer's address, e-mail address, and telephone number. Unless a rule or statute specifically states otherwise, a pleading need not be verified or accompanied by an affidavit. The court must strike an unsigned paper unless the omission is promptly corrected after being called to the attorney's or party's attention.

Just as paper pleadings must bear the attorney's or pro se litigant's signature (not an assistant, agent, etc.), electronically filed documents are presumed signed by the e-filer. 

This policy is authorized by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5(d)(3), which provides:

(3) Electronic Filing, Signing, or Verification. A court may, by local rule, allow papers to be filed, signed, or verified by electronic means that are consistent with any technical standards established by the Judicial Conference of the United States. . . . A paper filed electronically in compliance with a local rule is a written paper for purposes of these rules. 

Therefore, since the e-filer is virtually "signing" the document by logging into the system and submitting a PDF file, only attorneys and pro se litigants may register for efiling.