The Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system is the electronic filing system of the U.S. federal courts, including the U.S. bankruptcy courts. The PACER server is located in San Antonio, Texas and contains more than 500 million documents for federal courts nationwide.
As with the paper documents filed in the past, the information is part of the public domain on PACER and the public continues to have access by logging onto the PACER database. In addition, attorneys use the system to:
- Submit documents to the clerk of court
- Obtain copies of motions filed by opposing counsel
- Review the trustees’ and judges’ activities
- Remain generally updated on case progress
Each court manages its own system through the Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF), which is connected to the PACER server. The Georgia Northern Bankruptcy Court began using the CM/ECF system in 1999 for its docket and has all cases filed after January 1, 2002 available online in PACER. The Georgia court now requires bankruptcy petitions and related documents to be submitted to the clerk of court through its CM/ECF online platform. The federal law and local rules of the Georgia Northern Bankruptcy Court considers these electronic filings to be equivalent to those documents previously submitted on paper.
As the federal courts progress into the modern technology age, the most important question is how this paperless system affects your bankruptcy case. Because filing electronically happens in real-time, your petition and motions are filed as of the date and time your attorney transmits the documents on the bankruptcy court’s system and so is able to better control the timing of court filings and can even submit documents after hours. Your attorney also saves the time and expense of physically travelling to the clerk of court’s office to file your documents, which helps to defray the costs of your bankruptcy proceedings.