Bounced Email
Last updated: 05/03/12

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  1. What is bounced email?
    Why do emails bounce?

  2. How does the court handle bounced email?

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What is bounced email?
Why do emails bounce?


"Bounced" email (sometimes referred to as "bounce-mail") is email that has returned to the sender because it can not be delivered for some reason.  There are two kinds of bounced e-mail: hard bounce and soft bounce -


Hard Bounce email is permanently bounced back to the sender because the address is invalid, such as the domain name doesn't exist (there is no ""), or because the recipient is unknown (there is no "JoeTheAttorney@...".


Soft Bounce is an email message that gets as far as the recipient's mail server but is bounced back "undelivered" before it gets to the intended recipient.  This might occur because the recipient's inbox is full, the mail server is temporarily unavailable, or the recipient no longer has an email account at that address. A soft bounce message may be deliverable at another time or may be forwarded manually by the network administrator in charge of redirecting mail on the recipient's domain.

The ECF system has received over 1000 bounced emails per month. The top reasons (in order) are:

  1. Invalid Email Address because the attorney has moved and not updated the ECF profile.  All original email addresses submitted on the ECF registration form were tested working.

  2. Technical Problems with the attorney's email system, or the email box is over quota (full).

  3. Spam Protection improperly configured on the receiving end.

  4. Rules incorrectly configured or forgotten which were set up to reject, filter or move the ECF emails.


Quite frequently when the ECF Helpdesk receives calls regarding emails which were "not received" from ECF, after a lot of research and trouble for both the ECF Helpdesk and the attorney's email administrator, we find out that the emails in fact WERE received by the attorney, but the attorney forgot, moved, filtered, lost or deleted the emails; or often the attorney had an incorrect primary email address (such as a secretary who has left).

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How does the court handle bounced email?


The ECF Helpdesk spends a lot of time and effort in keeping our data accurate and safe, but... Per Local Rule 5-1(c)(3), it is the attorney's responsibility alone to keep their own contact information current and accurate.  It is not the court's responsibility to chase down attorneys if their emails bounce.  If emails do bounce back, the ECF Helpdesk will do the following:


Emails Bounced from Primary Email Addresses -

  1. Should emails not be delivered due to difficulties with the sender (the court), the court may try to resend the emails, but there can not be any guarantee on timeliness or success in re-sending. 1

  2. Should emails not be delivered due to difficulties with the recipient, the emails can not be resent. 1

  3. All bounced emails may be automatically forwarded to the ECF Email Bounce Log website at:


    This site can be viewed by anyone at any time, without subscription or membership.  It contains more information on why emails may bounce, and how to read email error codes.

    This log is provided as a courtesy from the court for a public record of failed notification delivery, but there will be no guarantee on the quality, availability or duration of content. 2


We highly recommend that 24 hours after you have completed your efiling, that you should check this site to determine if any emails for your cases have bounced.


  1. As time permits, attempts may be made by the court to find a newer or current email address if an address is dead. 2

  2. If any different email address can be found for the attorney on the State Bar, at a new firm or otherwise, that address may be updated in the ECF system without consent of the attorney. 2

  3. If no new email address can be found, the email address may be changed to:
    Once the email address is changed to this bogus address, the attorney may receive no further communications from the court, or other parties on any ECF cases, in paper or otherwise. 2

  4. The last address line for the attorney will be changed to:
    Invalid email address as of (date) and will show on the docket under the attorney's name. 2

The attorney's account will not be terminated or locked and the attorney may still log in and update their contact information at any time (and we HIGHLY encourage them to do so).


Emails Bounced from Secondary Email Addresses -


Since secondary email addresses are optional, all bounced emails to these addresses will eventually result in that address being deleted from the profile of the attorney without any further research or notification.  2




  1. In all situations, registered attorneys are still required to keep up with the progress of all their cases by logging into ECF (using their  PACER login) to determine if there was any activity.  See Local Rule 5-1(e).

  2. Due to the massive volume of bounced emails, there is no guarantee of timeliness in any of the above actions.

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