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FAQs: Pro Se Filers

Can I file documents in my case electronically?

No, only attorneys admitted to practice in this court can file electronically. All pro se litigants must submit documents to the Clerk of Court and the Clerk will electronically file the document for you.

Can I rely on the deadline or hearing date/time found within the docket text when litigating a case?

No. Attorneys are responsible for tracking deadlines and hearings. Deadlines calculated by the CM/ECF system may have extra days added for court case management purposes. These deadlines should not be relied upon for case litigation purposes.

Informational resources for determining deadlines and/or hearings are as follows:

  • The text of any text-only notice of hearing/order, i.e., notices or orders entered by the court directly on the docket without the addition of a PDF document;
  • The PDF document that constitutes the electronic order or hearing notice;
  • The Local Rules for this district; and
  • The Federal Rules.

Please consult the Attorney User's Guide for more information.

Do I have to use a form when filing a document with the court?

Yes. Local court rules require all pro se litigants who wish to file an employment discrimination action, a civil rights action, or habeas petition to use court forms. The forms are available free of charge from the Clerk of Court.

How much does it cost to file a case?

The fee to file a civil case and a complete list of filing fees can be found on the fee schedule.

Where should I file my case (which Division)?

The Northern District of Florida consists of four divisions:  Gainesville, Panama City, Pensacola, and Tallahassee.  Each division serves the surrounding counties. The division where your case should be filed is determined by either where the majority of the defendants are located or the location where the events took place.

Will my case be reviewed by a United States District Judge?

In federal court, magistrate judges are also judicial officers of the court. All United States magistrate judges serving within the territorial jurisdiction of the Northern District of Florida have authority as conferred by 28 U.S.C. § 636 to review cases and enter orders.  Your case will, likely, be referred to a magistrate judge for preliminary procedures.  By court rule, all prisoner complaints and petitions are referred to a magistrate judge, as well as any civil case with a pro se litigant.  Should the case go to trial, an Article III District judge will preside over the trial, absent the parties' consent to trial by a magistrate judge.