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Clerk’s Office General Filing Tips - Richmond Division
1. Office hours: The courthouse building is open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Clerk’s Office is open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
2. Try to have the case number when you call the Clerk’s Office with a case specific question. Knowing the case number allows the Clerk’s Office staff to answer your question more quickly and efficiently.
3. Filing a new suit. When filing a new suit, you must include: a civil cover sheet signed by counsel, filing fee of $400.00, original complaint and a copy for each defendant, summons prepared (original and two copies) or indicate in a cover letter that you will attempt a waiver of service of summons. When filing a new complaint, if you would like to receive a receipt and have service issued, please allow sufficient time for the complaint to be processed and the receipt issued.
4. Documents filed in cases that were opened after March 2007, shall be filed electronically. (See CM/ECF section of this website for information on electronic filing). In cases opened prior to March 2007, documents shall be filed on paper with an original signature. 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.
5. Faxed documents are not accepted. Anything faxed to us will not become part of the file until the original arrives in the Clerk’s Office. All pleadings must contain an original signature.
6. Attorneys cannot sign for another attorney. You must sign your name and you must be admitted to practice in this Court. Additionally, in electronic cases, an attorney must be qualified to file electronically. (See CM/ECF section of this website for information on how to register for electronic filing). Once you have signed a pleading, you are added as counsel of record in that case. Every pleading filed requires a signed certificate of service.
7. 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. The pro hac vice application form is required, as opposed to filing a separate motion.
8. Agreed orders. Our Court requires an “agreed” order for unopposed motions, extensions of time, dismissal of parties and/or cases, etc. The agreed order must contain the original signature of an admitted attorney for each party who has entered an appearance.
9. Entry of default and default judgment. Pursuant to Federal Rule 55(a), counsel must request entry of default, with a notarized affidavit in support of the default, prior to moving for default judgment.
10. Pending motions. All motions must be filed with the Clerk’s Office before calling a judge’s chambers to schedule a hearing.
11. Documents filed in duplicate. In paper cases, all filings of financial disclosure statements, jury instructions, and proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law must be submitted in duplicate. For more detailed information regarding courtesy copies, please click here.
12. Documents under seal and personal identifiers. It is suggested that you review the Local Rules governing the filing of sealed pleadings (Local Rules 5 and 49) and the redaction of personal identifiers from filings (Local Rules 7 and 47), which set forth the responsibilities of counsel.
13. Do not file discovery documents. Discovery is not filed in this Court. Pursuant to Federal Rule 5(d) and under 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.
14. Trial exhibits. It is requested that trial exhibits be bound and tabbed for easy access. If you plan to refer to certain pages in a multiple page document, please number each page for quick reference. A digital evidence presentation system is available in our courtrooms which can display exhibits on monitors, play videos, and permit illustrations directly on the screen. Jury copies of exhibits are not necessary when this system is used.
15. Juror information may be obtained three days prior to trial. A list of jurors assigned to a particular case may be obtained three days prior to the trial of that case. The list includes jurors’ names, city, zip code, date of birth, gender, race, occupation, employer, marital status, number of children and spouse’s occupation.
16. Files in paper cases 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 courthouse to request the file a few days ahead of time. Electronic cases may be accessed through PACER.
17. Last minute filings before hearings or trials in a paper case. If you must file documents related to a hearing or trial at the last minute, and the Clerk's Office is closed, you may file them in court with the courtroom deputy. During public hours, documents must be filed in the Clerk’s Office.
18. Security reminder. The following items are not allowed in the courthouse: cellular telephones, palm pilots, blackberry e-mail devices, pagers, cameras, tape recorders, or any other electronic device. Counsel who wish to bring in a laptop computer for use at a court hearing must receive prior approval. Counsel shall submit a written request to the Clerk’s Office. Potential weapons such as firearms, knives, pocket knives, scissors, letter openers, screw drivers, mace, and pepper spray are also prohibited.
19. 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 each judge’s pretrial order. If you have never appeared before our judges, please ask about and/or observe court proceedings.
20. Attorneys are encouraged to review the Code of Pretrial and Trial Conduct .