UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA
UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA
GENERAL ORDER NO. 1
GUIDELINES FOR ELECTRONIC CASE FILING
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 83 and Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure 5005(a)(2), 9006(f), 9011, 9022, 9029, and 9036 authorize this Court to establish practices and procedures for the filing, signing, maintaining and verification of pleadings and documents by electronic means.
THE COURT THEREFORE ORDERS:
The Clerk of the Court for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Oklahoma (Court) is hereby authorized to establish and promulgate Electronic Case Filing Guidelines (ECF Guidelines), including procedures for the registration of attorneys and for the distribution of passwords to permit electronic filing and notice of pleadings and other documents. ECF Guidelines shall be made available to the public in paper form at the Clerk’s office and by posting the Guidelines and User Guides on the Court’s web site, www.okwb.uscourts.gov.
1. SCOPE OF ELECTRONIC FILING
A. All cases and adversary proceedings filed or pending in the Court shall be, and by this order are, assigned to the Electronic Case Filing System (ECF System).
B. The official file in the Court shall be the electronic file. Pleadings and documents filed in paper format will be scanned and docketed in the ECF system and will be accessible only electronically.
2. REGISTERED PARTICIPANTS
A. A Registered Participant is an attorney certified to file electronically on the ECF system in the Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.
B. Unless exempted, attorneys must file documents with the Court electronically. The use of ECF became mandatory on July 1, 2006.
C. Trustees and attorneys who file paper pleadings and/or documents with the Court will be required to show cause why the pleadings and/or documents cannot be filed electronically.
3. LIMITED PARTICIPANTS
A. A Limited Participant is an electronic filer who is authorized by the Court Clerk to file electronically for any purpose authorized by the Court Clerk.
B. Limited Participants must comply with the requirements established by the Court Clerk for registration as a Limited Participant, must maintain the security of their login and password and must maintain current contact information with the Court. Electronic filing privileges of a Limited Participant may be deactivated if the Limited Participant misuses the system, consistently files incorrectly or fails to maintain current contact information.
4. ELECTRONIC FILING OF DOCUMENTS
A. The electronic transmission of a document to the Court in a manner consistent with the ECF Guidelines, or the filing of an event on the system consistent with these rules including the user’s personal or electronic signature, coupled with the Court’s return transmission of a “Notification of Electronic Filing” shall constitute the filing of a pleading or document for all purposes of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and the Court’s local rules, and constitutes entry of the pleading, document or event onto the Court’s docket for purposes of Rule 5003 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.
B. The official record of a pleading or document filed electronically, or a paper pleading or document filed, scanned, imaged and filed electronically, is the electronic pleading or document as stored by the Court Clerk. The filer is bound by the document as filed or the event as docketed.
C. Certain documents, such as affidavits and sworn statements, must bear the personal signature of the person under oath and the notary public. The notarial seal must be visible on any sworn statement. Notarial acts shall be governed by Oklahoma state law.
D. The electronic document stamp, reflecting the date and time of filing, that appears on the filed document and on the Notice of Electronic Filing shall be the file stamp by the Court Clerk for all purposes.
E. Documents are considered filed only when the submit button in ECF is activated. The filing time is not the time that docketing is initiated.
F. Electronically filed documents must comply with all Local BankruptcyRules of the Court.
G. Pleadings filed electronically must comply with all filing and service deadlines in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, local rules and other applicable law. The deadline for filing, unless otherwise specifically set, is midnight of the due date, Central Time.
H. A certificate of service shall be included with all documents filed electronically in accordance with local rules.
I. A Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) account is not required to file pleadings and documents with the Court Clerk. Registered Participants who have appeared in a case or who have registered as an interested party will receive one free viewing of any document filed in that case. A PACER account is required to view all other documents.
J. All electronic documents, except the text upload of the creditor matrix, must be submitted in Portable Document Format (PDF).
K. Pro se filers may present paper pleadings or documents for filing. The Court Clerk will scan the paper documents and file the documents in PDF format. The paper documents may be returned to the filer upon request or may be discarded.
L. Paper copies of pleadings or documents filed electronically shall be provided to Chambers by the filer pursuant to local rule or upon request. A paper copy of any oversized pleading, brief or document must be provided by the filer to Chambers within one business day of the electronic filing.
5. LOGINS AND PASSWORDS
A. An attorney in good standing with this Court or an attorney appearing pro hac vice by order of the Court is eligible to become a Registered Participant. To become a Registered Participant, an attorney must:
i. Complete the ECF registration documents and agree to all requirements for participation in the program; and,
ii. Maintain a current email address; and,
iii. Utilize a credit card for the payment of filing fees assessed with electronic filings and pay filing fees promptly; and,
iv. Receive training by the Court, unless the Clerk is satisfied that the person has previously received adequate training in another district; and,
v. Receive a login and password from the Clerk’s Office.
Training in District Court ECF shall not be sufficient to meet this Court’s training requirement. Pro se parties and bankruptcy petition preparers will not be Registered Participants, unless permitted by the Court.
B. Only the Registered Participant, another attorney in the Registered Participant’s office, an employee of the Registered Participant or the attorney’s law office staff may use the Registered Participant’s ECF login and password. The Registered Participant shall be responsible for any filings made using the Registered Participant’s login and password.
C. The Court may revoke, cancel, deactivate or suspend, the login and password of a Registered or Limited Participant, and the ability of the Registered Participant or Limited Registrant to electronically file pleadings and documents and/or impose sanctions against a Registered Participant or Limited Participant under any of the following conditions:
i. Misuse of the ECF System login and/or password;
ii. Failure to comply with the provisions of the agreement in the Attorney’s Registration Form or Limited Participant’s Application;
iii. Failure to adequately secure and protect the Registered or Limited Participant’s login and password;
iv. Failure to comply with the provisions of the Administrative Guidelines for Electronic Filing;
v. Failure to maintain an email address capable of receiving emails and Notices of Electronic Filing from the Court;
vi. Return of undeliverable emails or Notices of Electronic Filing sent from the Court to the Participant;
vii. Failure to pay filing fees for pleadings and documents filed electronically;
viii. Repeated filing errors without adequate correction.
D. If a Registered Participant believes that his or her user name and/or password have been compromised, the Registered Participant should change the password and notify the Court Clerk immediately.
E. A Registered Participant who electronically files a document with the Court shall be deemed to have certified under penalty of perjury that he or she has personally reviewed the document, is in good standing with the Bar and all courts in which the attorney practices, and is authorized to appear in this Court.
F. By registering to participate in ECF, a Registered Participant consents, except as otherwise required by law or other court rule, to the electronic service of notice of documents pursuant to the electronic case filing system.
G. A Registered Participant may withdraw from participation in the ECF System for cause, only upon order of the Court. A motion to withdraw from the use of ECF by a Registered Participant must be presented to the Chief Judge. If the motion is granted, the Clerk will immediately deactivate the Registered Participant’s password and delete the Registered Participant from all applicable electronic notice lists. The filing of paper pleadings and documents will be permitted only upon specific court order.
6. SIGNATURES AND VERIFIED PLEADINGS
A. The user login and password required to file documents electronically must be the same as the personal or electronic signature on the pleading to constitute the Registered Participant’s signature on documents filed electronically with the Court.
B. The filing of a document bearing the filer’s personal or electronic signature using the filer’s login shall be deemed the electronic signature of the Registered Participant for purposes of Rule 9011 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, any other provision of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, the Local Rules of this Court, and/or any other applicable rule, statute, or purpose for which a signature is required in connection with proceedings before the Court. Pursuant to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, every pleading and other paper must be signed by the attorney of record.
C. Each document shall bear the personal or electronic signature of the person purporting to have signed the document as prescribed in the Style Guide. The document must also bear the name, address, telephone number, email address and Bar Association number of the attorney filing the document. The name of the Registered Participant whose login and password are used to file the document must be preceded by and “s/” (or in substantially the same format) and typed in the space where the signature would otherwise appear.
D. The Registered Participant must designate a title for the pleading or document by selecting the appropriate event title from the events provided in ECF.
E. The electronic filing of a document electronically signed by a client of the Registered Participant, including but not limited to the petition, statement of financial affairs and schedules of assets and liabilities, shall be deemed a certification by the Registered Participant that he or she has the document bearing the person’s original signature in his or her physical possession. The Registered Participant must produce the original signed document on request of the Court or a trustee.
F. Documents requiring the signatures of more than one party must be electronically filed by:
i. Submitting a scanned document bearing all necessary signatures; or,
ii. Representing the consent of other parties in the document; or,
iii. Identifying on the document the parties whose signatures are required and by the submission of a notice of endorsement by the other parties no later than three (3) business days after filing; or,
iv. In any other manner provided in ECF Guidelines, the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, or local court rules.
G. The Court may prescribe additional procedures for designating that a document filed electronically with the Court has been signed.
7. EXHIBITS AND ATTACHMENTS
A. Subject to compliance with the Local Rules of this Court, an exhibit or attachment longer than twenty-five (25) pages may be filed if created from a word processing, or text, file and converted to a PDF. Due to document size, exhibits or attachments created by scanning or imaging must be filed in two (2) MB chunks (about twenty five  page attachments).
B. Colored or oversized documents may not be filed electronically.
C. Care should be taken to ensure that documents and exhibits are correctly scanned and attached to docketing events in ECF. Improperly scanned documents shall not be accepted for filing.
D. A Registered Participant must submit as exhibits or attachments only excerpts of referenced materials that are directly germane to the matter under consideration by the Court. Excerpted materials should be identified clearly and prominently. A Registered Participant who files excerpted material as an exhibit or attachment under this rule does so without prejudice to his or her right to timely file additional excerpts or the complete document. Responding parties may timely file additional excerpts or the complete document that they believe to be directly germane.
E. Pursuant to local rule, a PDF cover sheet must be filed with amendments, pay advices, reaffirmation agreements and documents filed under seal. A cover sheet is not required for an adversary case filed electronically. The cover sheet must be included as the first page of the document.
F. A Chapter 13 Plan will be mailed to all creditors by the Court Clerk if the Plan is filed with the Chapter 13 petition. If the Plan is not filed with the Chapter 13 petition, the Registered Participant shall mail the Plan to the creditors.
8. DOCUMENTS FILED UNDER SEAL
A Registered Participant’s motion to file a document under seal must be filed electronically unless prohibited by law. The Court Clerk shall be advised of documents ordered by the Court to be filed under seal. A copy of the order authorizing the filing under seal must be delivered to the Clerk.
9. PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION
The filer shall be responsible to redact all personally identifiable information appearing in petitions, income tax returns or other documents.
10. RETENTION REQUIREMENTS
Electronically filed pleadings and documents requiring original signatures, other than the signature of the Registered Participant, must be maintained in paper form by the Registered Participant until one (1) year after all time periods for appeals from any ruling or decision in the bankruptcy case and adversary proceeding(s) have expired. On request of the Court or a Trustee assigned to the case, the Registered Participant must provide original documents for review.
With the exception of the following motions, all motions filed shall include only one request for relief:
i. Motions for Relief from Stay and Abandonment;
ii. Motions for Relief from Stay, Abandonment, or Adequate Protection;
iii. Motions to Dismiss or Convert; iv. Motions for Relief from Stay and Abandon and Relief from Co-Debtor Stay;
v. Motions to Annul the Stay and to Abandon;
vi. Motions to Modify Plans and Requests for Compensation;
vii. Motions to Suspend Plan Payments and Compensation;
viii. Motions to Convert or Dismiss or Appoint Trustee;
ix. Chapter 11 final report and account and application for final decree (chapter 11);
x. Chapter 11 first day motions (chapter 11);
xi. Motion for continuation of utility service (chapter 11); xii. Motion for order authorizing continued use/maintenance (chapter 11);
xiii. Motion for order establishing interim compensation/expense procedures (chapter 11);
xiv. Motion to approve payment pre-petition wages and benefits (chapter 11); xv. Motion to approve website procedures (chapter 11);
xvi. Motion to continue use of bank accounts (chapter 11); and
xvii. Other combination events as the Court may create.
Filing parties must ensure that a proper “Event” has been selected for each request for relief filed electronically either through filing and docketing separately or through use of a permissible combined event in the ECF System.
A. The Court’s electronic filing of orders, decrees, memoranda, opinions and judgments shall constitute entry on the Court’s docket for purposes of Rules 5003 and 9021 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.
B. Registered Participants submitting orders for Court approval must submit the orders in electronic format.
C. Judges may sign orders manually, by electronic means permitted by Rule 5005(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, or judges may use docket text orders.
D. An order filed electronically without judicial signature or with a facsimile of a judge’s signature has the same force and effect as if the judge had affixed his or her signature to a paper copy of the order and entered the order manually on the docket.
E. The Court may issue certain orders as text only. Text orders will not include a separate document signed by a judge. A text order has the same force and effect as if a judge had affixed his or her signature to a paper copy of the order and entered the order manually on the docket. The moving party shall be required to print the text order, to mail it to any party who did not receive electronic notice of the order and to docket a certificate of service reflecting mailing of the order.
13. NOTICE OF ELECTRONIC FILING AND SERVICE
A. When a document is filed electronically, a Notification of Electronic Filing (NEF) is automatically generated by the ECF System. The Notification is sent electronically to the attorney filing the document and to Registered Participants’ attorneys appearing in the case in which the document is filed.
B. Transmission of the Notification of Electronic Filing by the Clerk to a Registered Participant shall constitute effective service of all papers and notices governed by Rule 7005 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (incorporating Rule 5 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure), Rule 9022 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and all paper and notices governed by Rule 9014(b) of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, except as otherwise provided by law. Attorneys should save the Notice of Electronic Filing for proof of service.
C. Service of initiating pleadings on a party to a proceeding, such as the summons and complaint in an adversary proceeding or an involuntary bankruptcy proceeding, must be made as provided by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, statute, Local Rule or other applicable law. The Return of Service of Summons or, as applicable, the Certificate of Service, may be made electronically.
D. To enable proper service via the transmission of the Notice of Electronic Filing in pending cases, Registered Participants shall not withdraw their email address from any case and shall not deactivate their email accounts while involved in any adversary proceeding or other contested matter without updating their email address in ECF and providing written notice in the case. Failure to maintain a current email address with the Court shall be grounds for deactivation of electronic filing privileges.
E. Parties who are not Registered Participants in ECF shall be served in accordance with applicable law, federal rule and local rule.
F. A Certificate of Service, specifying on whom the pleading or document was filed, the date of service and the means of service must be completed as required by local rule.
G. Pleadings and documents may be rejected for filing by the Court Clerk or by the Bankruptcy Noticing Center (BNC) if the pleading or document does not conform to the requirements of these Guidelines for Electronic Filing or with the Style Guide.
H. Pleadings and/or documents returned as undeliverable will be returned to the sending party. If returned to the filer for additional service, the filer must redirect service of the pleading or document to the intended party or must file with the Court an affidavit stating the reasons for the failure of service.
A. Attorneys must file a creditor matrix in PDF format with the petition. The matrix must also be uploaded to ECF as a text document. Instructions for preparing the matrix as a text document are available on the Court’s website. Failure to format a matrix properly may result in rejection of the matrix information.
B. Attorneys and/or litigants shall ensure that addresses for creditors are correctly uploaded. A creditor included on the matrix without an address will be stricken from the matrix by the Court Clerk and will not be provided notice until an amended matrix with the complete address is filed and necessary filing fees are paid by the debtor. The debtor, or the debtor’s attorney, shall provide notice or service to any party for whom no address is included on the matrix.
C. Attorneys and/or litigants who enter an incorrect address for a creditor shall be notified when mail is returned. If mail is returned to an attorney and/or litigant, the attorney and/or litigant shall file a corrected notice within ten (10) days of receipt or shall file a notice with the Court that the address cannot be ascertained.
15. PROOFS OF CLAIMS
Proofs of Claim and supporting exhibits shall be filed electronically by Registered or Limited Participants. Exhibits in compliance with local rules, the Administrative Guidelines for Electronic Filing, and Style Guide may be filed in support of a Proof of Claim.
16. SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS
A. All filings shall reflect only the last four digits of any social security number, taxpayer identification or account number. As permitted by federal rule, the Debtor’s Statement of Social Security Number, Form B 21, shall be filed with the entire social security number and personal signature of the debtor(s).
B. Form B 21 shall be filed as a separate docketing event. It will not be available for viewing by the public.
17. QUALITY ASSURANCE
A. Trustees, attorneys and/or pro se litigants are required to ensure that pleadings or documents are quality assured before filing. The same standard of care as is observed in the filing of paper documents must be observed by trustees, attorneys and/or pro se litigants in the electronic filing of pleadings or documents. Ensuring that matters are set for hearing on dockets of the judges shall be the responsibility of the party whose objection, response or other action caused a hearing to be necessary or required.
B. Corrective entries will be entered by the Court Clerk if errors are found in filings. The Court may strike documents if corrections to filings are not made promptly.
C. If an error in docketing is discovered by the Court Clerk, notification of the correction will be provided to the filer. Filing fees paid in error will be refunded by the Court in the discretion of the judge to whom the matter is assigned. A Registered Participant must file a written request for refund of a filing fee paid in error.
18. TECHNICAL FAILURE
A. Any difficulty in accessing the ECF system and any other technical failure of the Court’s ECF system should be reported to the ECF Help Desk immediately.
B. A Registered Participant whose filing is made untimely as the result of a technical failure may seek appropriate relief from the assigned judge. If no case is pending, relief may be sought from the Chief Judge. The Court shall determine whether a technical failure has occurred on a case-by-case basis. Filing deadlines shall not otherwise be altered based upon a technical failure.
C. If a filing cannot be timely filed as a result of a technical failure, the PDF pleading or document may be filed at the Office of the Court Clerk or, with prior permission, may be emailed to the Court Clerk by contacting the ECF Help Line or the Court Clerk.
A. If a filing requires that a fee be paid, the ECF system will prompt the filing Registered Participant to enter a credit card number, expiration date and the payment amount. The credit card receipt will reflect the case number for which the fee was paid. Debit cards are not an acceptable form of payment.
B. The ECF login of an attorney who fails to pay filing fees by midnight on the day on which the fees are incurred shall be deactivated. An attorney may reactivate the login by paying all filing fees. Additionally, cases in which filing fees have not been paid timely may be dismissed or documents may be stricken by the Court if filing fees are not paid timely.
An attorney may file an Application for Waiver of Electronic Filing seeking an exemption from electronic filing requirements. Applications must be presented to the Chief Judge. The applicant must explain his or her inability to comply with these Guidelines. The application will be granted only for cause.
21. EFFECTIVE DATE
This order shall become effective on February 1, 2015
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Sarah A. Hall Chief Bankruptcy Judge