E-filing Dictionary: ECF Help Desks & E-file Training

Update: ECF Help Desks Phone Directory

We wanted to share with you via the PACER website an all-on-one page directory of the Help Desk phone numbers for federal district, bankruptcy, and appellate courts updated as at August 12th, 2014. To access a federal court’s Help Desk phone number, visit PACER online at:


*Note that for the 9th Circuit, ECF Help is available via email only; and in the 4th Circuit, ECF Help Desk is screened by phone.

Originally published 11/20/13

A recent opinion by the New York Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department regarding an electronic filing in the New York State Courts Electronic Filing system has found that, as a matter of law, plaintiff and plaintiff’s counsel should have the summons and complaint accepted as timely filed by the county clerk’s office.

The issue arose on May 4th, in 2011 when the law firm representing the plaintiff in a personal injury case mistakenly filed the summons and complaint in the state’s e-file training system, rather than in its live e-filing system. And, while the court never received the documents, the firm’s case manager and counsel believed they had properly and timely filed in the actual system.

Three days after the statute of limitations expired, counsel received notice from the NYSCEF office that their filing had been within the “practice/training” system, and was therefore never completed within the live system.

How could this have occurred?

E-file Training is conducted on a server or site area dedicated to training users so they become proficient in filing electronically. Many courts utilize a “learning by doing” method whereby participants train in a simulated environment that mimics real events.

The server or site area dedicated to training users so they can become proficient in filing electronically on the NYSCEF utilizes a “learning by doing” method whereby registered participants train in a simulated environment that mimics real events.

Evidently, the training system was a little too real.

As the appellate panel noted, the training program did not contain enough warnings and reminders that it was just a training site. Such warnings were likely essential to practitioners outside the county and unfamiliar with the newly mandated e-filing system, as in this case.

In the federal courts of appeal, training areas for the CM/ECF system are utilized by the 3rd, 6th, &7th Circuits, and in the D.C. Circuit.

The appellate panel also took issue with the wording used within the training system. An auto-responder email message sent to counsel contained the phrase “a temporary user account has been created … in the Practice New York State Efiling System.” The panel found the word “practice” to be contextually ambiguous.

The Appellate Court found for the plaintiffs under CPLR 2001, which provides judicial discretion to correct for errors in the method of a filing, and ordered the summons and complaint as timely filed on May 4, 2011.

ECF Help Desks

Given the mix-up in the e-filing mentioned above, along with the rapid rate at which new e-filing systems are launching in courts nationwide, it behooves legal practitioners to become very familiar with the e-filing term “ECF Help Desk.”

An ECF Help Desk is a dedicated support center for e-filers. Each court’s support services vary, but in most federal appellate courts, ECF Help Desks consist of both a call-in number with set hours, and an email address for inquiries relating to electronic filing (call-in only, 4th Circuit).

If you run in to a specific problem, it may be most helpful to email the Help Desk in order to include screenshots of the system message(s) received, and/or the specific area of the ECF system you are having troubles with.

Record Press is an Appellate Service Provider now offering a dedicated ECF Help Desk to assist legal professionals and e-filers ranging from the novice e-filer, to veterans of a specific e-filing system such as the federal CM/ECF.

If you have e-filing questions about a specific court, please feel free to contact the help desk at Record Press [ecfhelpdesk@recordpress.com] or, you can submit them here.

Apellate filing and assembly proAbout the Author: Natasha R. Monell, Esq, is Vice President of Appellate Management & Staff Counsel, and heads up our team of appellate advocates at Record Press, Inc., where her appellate filing expertise has been a highly sought after commodity for well over 15 years. Ms. Monell specializes in New York State Appellate Courts, all Federal Circuit Courts and United States Supreme Court filings and strategies that advance any litigation teams’ appeal to perfection.
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2 Responses to E-filing Dictionary: ECF Help Desks & E-file Training

  1. Texas Electronic Filing January 10, 2015 at 5:14 am #

    I really enjoy reading your blog and I appreciate all of the information you have given and continue to give. thanks for sharing. Your EFSP friends in Texas.


  1. E-filing Rejections: How to Avoid ECF Blunders | appellateU blog - April 17, 2014

    […] Yet, a court’s ECF system can only be as good as its users afford it to be. When practitioners and legal staff utilize an ECF, they need to do so with the level of care and attention normally devoted to all manner of legal process and matter. Understanding the ECF system is essential, and this knowledge can often be gained through system training modules. […]

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