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Clerk’s Office General Filing Tips - Alexandria Division
1. Visit the CM/ECF page of our website for information about electronic case filing: Any document not exempt from e-filing must be filed electronically.
2. If mailing or sending a courier with a new lawsuit, include a cover letter. The cover letter should include information as to the type of service to issue (i.e., personal by a process service, through the Secretary of the Commonwealth, by mail, etc.).
3. When completing the Civil Cover Sheet (JS 44), please note any related cases in section VIII of the form. This information is required if there are any related open or closed civil cases.
4. Timeliness in filing is appreciated. Our office is open 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8:00 a.m.to 5:00 p.m. on Friday only. If you are filing a new complaint, please allow sufficient time for the complaint to be processed and the receipt issued. Waiting until minutes before we close to comply with a deadline puts undue stress on all of us.
5. Try to have the case number when you call the Clerk's Office with a case-specific question. Our cases are assigned to case managers by the last digit of the docket number, so knowing the number enables you to talk with the specific case manager who will be able to answer your question.
6. Local counsel must sign all documents submitted by foreign counsel. Attorneys who are admitted pro hac vice may endorse pleadings, however, our Local Rules require the endorsement of local (admitted) counsel on all pleadings. Attorneys who are admitted pro hac vice are not permitted to file electronically. It is the responsibility of local counsel to electronically file documents.
7. All original documents exempt from electronic case filing are to be filed with the Clerk's Office. Any copies submitted should be marked as such. If possible, sign the original in blue ink so that we can more easily distinguish it from the copies. If you want a copy of a document returned to you via mail, please send an envelope large enough for the document.
8. Do not file discovery documents. Discovery is not filed in this Court. Pursuant to Federal Rule 5(d) and the 16(b) scheduling order, disclosures do not need to be filed. Disclosures under 26(a)(1) and (2) are to be made among counsel only. Disclosures under 26(a)(3) are to be made among counsel and included as part of the final pretrial conference.
9. Consent Orders. Our court requires a "consent" order for unopposed motions, extensions of time, dismissal of parties and/or cases, etc. At this time, these orders are exempt from electronic filing. The consent order must contain the original signature of an admitted attorney for each party who has entered an appearance. Do not assume that the order will be entered by the court.
10. Motions should be accompanied by either a consent order or a notice of hearing setting the motions for a Friday Motions Docket. Please file a "notice of hearing date" using the CM/ECF system, or submit a consent order or waiver of oral argument with the motion.
11. We cannot accept fax filings. Anything faxed to us will not become part of the file until the original arrives in the Clerk's Office.
12. Be sure to request entry of default before moving for default judgment. Pursuant to Federal Rule 55(a), counsel must file a request for entry of default, together with an affidavit in support of the default, prior to moving for default judgment.
13. Paper case files are usually not available immediately before or during hearings or trials. Our judges and their staff need case files prior to and during hearings and trials. If you need to review a file, please visit the Clerk's Office to request the file a few days ahead of any hearing date. Cases filed on or after March 26, 2007, are available for review remotely through PACER or may be accessed using one of the public terminals in the Clerk's Office.
14. Last-minute filings before hearings or trials. Documents related to a hearing or trial should be filed early enough to allow for filing, recording, and review by a judge. If you must file something at the last minute, have a copy delivered immediately to the appropriate chambers.
15. Juror information is available three days before trial except for capital cases in which juror information is available five days before trial. Juror information is released to the attorneys of record (who must show ID). Employees of the attorneys of record must present a letter to the clerk (on firm letterhead) authorizing receipt of juror information, and must also present a photo ID before receiving juror information.
16. Security reminder. The following items are not allowed in the courthouse: cellular telephones, Palm Pilots, Blackberry e-mail devices, pagers, cameras, tape recorders, laptop computers, or any other electronic device. Potential weapons such as firearms, knives, pocket knives, scissors, letter openers, screw drivers, mace, and pepper spray are also prohibited.
17. We cannot answer legal questions or interpret rules and orders. Our staff receives training as to what constitutes a legal, as opposed to a procedural question. We are prohibited from interpreting the Federal Rules, Local Rules, and judge's rulings for counsel or their staff. We may refer someone to a particular rule, but the attorney or assistant must make his or her own interpretation. If we tell you that your question is legal in nature and we cannot answer it, please believe us. We are happy to answer procedural questions or refer you to an applicable rule before you file a case or document. Please use us as a resource - we are here to help.
We suggest that you be familiar with the Local Rules and the ECF Policies and Procedures Manual, as well as the court's pretrial order and Friday Motions Hearing Practice. If you have never appeared before our judges, please ask about and/or observe court proceedings.
18. Attorneys are encouraged to review the Code of Pretrial and Trial Conduct .
19. Counsel and pro se parties must request leave of court before filing any material on computer discs.