Recently the Supreme Court announced that it was taking a step forward technologically (see here). Today, the Fourth Circuit made a similar announcement, revealing that effective November 13, 2017 the Court will go live on “NextGen CM/ECF.” The most significant change accompanying the implementation of this updated filing system will be that users will have a single PACER account that will allow them to file (and simply view) documents in all other federal courts that have also upgraded to NextGen CM/ECF. Currently, users must maintain a separate CM/ECF account for each court in which the user files documents and performs other CM/ECF related activities; the NextGen CM/ECF system, once fully implemented, will eliminate this need for separate accounts. For those who routinely practice in multiple bankruptcy courts, district courts, and/or appellate courts, thus having to keep track of numerous login names and passwords, this is likely a welcome change.
Importantly, “[t]o continue filing documents and performing other CM/ECF-related activity in the Fourth Circuit on or after November 13, 2017, a filing user who created a PACER account prior to August 10, 2014, will be required to upgrade that account in PACER.” After the PACER account is upgraded (instructions for upgrading can be found here), the user will have to link the PACER account to his/her Fourth Circuit-specific CM/ECF account. While users can upgrade their PACER accounts now, this linking cannot be done until after the Court goes live with NextGen CM/ECF on November 13. 2017. The Court has indicated that instructions for linking will be made available prior to that date.
Another potentially significant impact of this change is that “each individual filing user must have a separate upgraded account; firmwide and other shared accounts will not be permitted.”