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Top Case Opening Mistakes


The entry of case opening information happens prior to the docketing of case initiating documents, and is based on the information provided on the Civil Cover Sheet (JS44).  Detailed information about case opening is located in Section 7 – Civil Case Opening of the CM/ECF User Manual, located in the E-Filing section of the District Court website.

Below are some of the most common errors found during case opening and docketing of case initiating documents.

Common Case Opening Errors

  • Incorrect Division Code Selection – Local Rule 3-2 establishes divisions of the court based on counties.  The county in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred should be used to determine divisional venue.
  • Incorrect NOS Code – The Nature of Suit (NOS) Code is included in Section IV of the Civil Cover Sheet (JS44). 
  • Incorrect Cause of Action – The Cause of Action is included in Section VI of the Civil Cover Sheet (JS44).  Use the first listed Cause of Action when opening a new case.
  • Incorrect Demand Amount – The dollar demand is included in Section VII of the Civil Cover Sheet (JS44).  The dollar amount should be entered in thousands of dollars.  For example, a demand of $250,000 should be entered as 250.
  • Incorrect or Missing County – Enter the county in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred.
  • Case Participant Errors – Enter all parties listed on the case initiating document during case opening, and include all aliases for a party.  Parties should not be listed in all capital letters.
  • Party Text Missing – Additional information that is not part of the name of a party is often left out of the party text field.  For example, if a party is named as “ABC Bank, a Delaware corporation” on the front of the complaint, the descriptor “a Delaware corporation” must be included in the Party Text box.

Common Errors in Case Initiating Documents

  • No JS44 Civil Cover Sheet – Each new civil case is required to have a completed Civil Cover Sheet (JS44) to ensure the accurate entry of statistical information in CM/ECF.
  • Documents Not Text Searchable – Local Rule 5-2(b) requires all PDF files to be text searchable unless otherwise directed by the court.
  • Missing or Incorrect Case Number – After case opening is completed, the filer is assigned a case number.  Before filing the case initiating documents, the case number should be added to all documents being filed at case initiation.  A judge will not be assigned to your case until after the case initiating documents have been filed. 


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