Combining forms to file with court

Community Beginner ,
Apr 07, 2017 Apr 07, 2017

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We often have to combine documents into one PDF, then number all pages and insert a table of contents to produce to the court as a Joint Appendix of all key documents.  When I try to combine all docs, we often have fillable forms and other documents which change when they are combined.  When we combine several Corporate Disclosures that have been filled in and filed with the court previously as fillable forms, the fields actually change.  Checkmarks disappear and words actually change.  Some of our attorneys do not have Acrobat Pro.  Is there some method of "flattening" fillable forms so they can be combined with other documents to file as a Joint Appendix?  We have been printing to PDF or using javascript flattening option, but attorneys only have Reader.  What are their options, if any?

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Adobe Community Professional , Apr 11, 2017 Apr 11, 2017

No. You should do it yourself.

The issue is that your files have the Reader-Rights applied to them, which prevents them from being flattened.

To remove those rights you need to use File - Save A Copy and save them under a new name. Then the Action will work.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 07, 2017 Apr 07, 2017

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You can't flatten form fields with Reader, but you also can't combine files with it, so I'm not sure what you're doing there, exactly...

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 07, 2017 Apr 07, 2017

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Sorry, I"m still not making sense, am I?  The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals offers many fillable PDF forms on their website.  However, they also request that the attorneys "flatten" the forms after filling them out and prior to filing.  They suggest printing to PDF using Acrobat or some other software.  Attorneys who don't have Acrobat just file them without flattening them. They might fill out a form for each defendant and file each of the forms individually.  Then later, they come to me because I have Acrobat Pro and they ask me to insert all of these filed forms into the front of their appellate brief as required by the court and create another single PDF file that is also filed with the court.  I was just using the Combine feature in Acrobat Pro and filing the appellate brief.  Then we noticed that all of the checked boxes on all of the individual disclosure forms became unchecked when they were combined together as one document with the text of the appellate brief.  I was hoping each attorney would start "flattening" these forms when they first file them.  But it sounds like that's not possible using Reader.  They'll need to request Acrobat Pro or ask me to do it for all of their filings if they are PDF fillable forms. Or they will have to print them to paper and scan them, then file them which the court also frowns upon.   Also, I need to start being very careful to check which docs are forms before combining them.  Do I have to individually print each form to PDF before combining?       

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 07, 2017 Apr 07, 2017

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No, that's a bad idea. Just flatten all files first. You can do it with a simple Action.

And yes, if other people want to be able to do that then they should get Acrobat. It's really a must-have tool for anyone working with PDF files professionally, and not that expensive.

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 10, 2017 Apr 10, 2017

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I have been searching for a "simple Action" to flatten forms, but get lost in comments about trying to use Preflight but all check boxes curiously become checked when they weren't checked in the first place and other strange things happening.   I combined some medical documents with other documents to add bookmarks for a trial, and some of the text in the digital medical records actually changed on me.  This is beginning to scare me a bit.  Apparently, I need to get our IT group to help us with a javascript to do what the courts are asking us--flatten forms?  I notice that I can click and delete Judge's signatures on some of these PDF orders.  They also ask us to insert asterisks when uploading appendices and exhibits that contain transcripts with missing pages to designate those gaps and insert attorney names at the top of depositions and redact personal identifiers.  Just recently both the Supreme Court of Virginia and the Court of Appeals issued a rule mandating that all briefs and appendices be PDF/A compliant (after adding bookmarks and inserting lots of old scanned PDF documents).   This job is becoming challenging ... but if you could help me find the "simple Action" to flatten fillable forms I would really appreciate it.  I have an appellate brief due this afternoon.  Thanks so much for your patience.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 10, 2017 Apr 10, 2017

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First of all, be aware that when you reply by email it includes your signature and posts it to the public forum. Maybe you want to avoid that... I removed it from your last reply.

Working with PDF files can be tricky. You need to know what you're doing in order to get it right, and even then it can be challenging, especially when it comes to things like security, signatures, form fields, etc.

Are you familiar with the Action Wizard of Acrobat Pro? If so, then you can create a new Action that executes this JS code and run it on your files to convert the form fields into static contents:

this.flattenPages();

That's all there is to it, really...

If you were able to delete someone's signature from a file it means they didn't sign it properly. A digital signature can't be removed by someone else. It can only invalidated if the file is edited.

The same goes for redactions. You have to use the Redaction tool in Acrobat to do it correctly. People often make the mistake of thinking they can remove information from a PDF by covering it with a black comment or field, but that can be easily overcome and the original text can be recovered. Even editing the file might not remove the information entirely. Using the built-in Redaction tool is the ​only​ way of doing it safely.

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New Here ,
Jul 25, 2022 Jul 25, 2022

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So no filing any forms at the District Court using PDF's? But later on try flattening files with appealing letters  with a single action to a Supreme Justice clerk, like in Colorado...but no more files flattening to be issued on anyone new at the district? Right?

 

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 10, 2017 Apr 10, 2017

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I am wondering if you would benefit from creating PDF Portfolios of your individual documents instead of simply combining.  This would retain the individual qualities of all contained documents, but still offer the 'bundle' in a single PDF.

I hope this is helpful.

My best,

Dave

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 10, 2017 Apr 10, 2017

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Thanks for all the wonderful assistance!!

I will call the various courts to see if we can use PDF portfolios instead of single PDF.  However, some appellate courts require an elaborate bookmarking scheme for the judges which is supposed to match the table of contents.  And we're required to insert page numbers in the footer of the combined appendices after the set is compiled.  So if I combine 100 docs, then all the docs have to have a consecutive page number at the bottom of the entire set.  Then we have to create a table of contents that describes each of the documents and lists the page number where it appears in the compiled appendix.  Then we have to bookmark each entry in the table of contents so it takes the Judge to the exact document.  Then we have to renumber all the thumbnails to match the page number scheme because the PDF page numbering doesn't match the brief or appendix -- the cover has no page number, the table of contents and table of authorities is numbered with lower case roman numerals, and the page numbers on the actual documents start at 1 and are numbered consecutively.  If we mention page number 524 in a brief, the judge wants to be able to insert 524 in the GoTo page, and go directly to page number 524 even if we've inserted an unnumbered cover sheet and 20 pages of roman numeral table of contents.

Then when the PDF is filed, the federal courts add either a new footer or a new header to every single page in the PDF that lists the case number, document number, filed date, page x of xx, and the actual pageid# of the number of docs filed to date in that case (if 100 pleadings have been filed in this case, this pageid# is the page number of the entire set of all docs.)   So it keeps track of the number of pages filed to date so everyone can refer to pageis# 23,123 and everyone knows which page that is in the case file.  I'm not sure the court could do all this numbering with portfolios because I can't seem to figure out how to bates number portfolios.  But I will check with the courts.

I tried creating an action using "this.flattenPages();" and nothing happened.  I tried downloading something I found on the Adobe legal blog called "Flatten Fields and Comments.sequ" that created an action running JS "event.target.flattenPages();" and nothing happened.  However, I did get this action to flatten digital exhibit stickers that we use which will be really helpful.  If I don't flatten the digital exhibit stickers, the federal courts insert that footer or header automatically that I described above, and if my exhibit sticker isn't place just right it obscures the court's footer information.  So I can definitely use this flatten action for some things.  I just can't get it to flatten this fillable court form. 

I tried running Preflight, Flatten annotations and form fields, and I received an error message, "Preflight is unable to perform any fixups on this document as its author did not grant the necessary permissions. Permissions can be restricted by using encryption or digital signatures."  

Maybe this form just can't be flattened because of the way it was created??  Here's the link:  http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/docs/pdfs/disclosure-of-corporate-affiliations.pdf

I have requested that all attorneys get Acrobat Pro. They often can't file documents because the size is larger than that allowed by each court.  They often have to redact personal identifiers, bates number, insert digital exhibit stickers, rearrange pages, change thumbnail page numbering, extract pages, combine pages, etc.

Thanks again for all your assistance with this problem.

Susan

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 10, 2017 Apr 10, 2017

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Did you add a Save command to your Action? And use the script I gave you, not other variations.

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 10, 2017 Apr 10, 2017

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How do I add a Save command to my Action? 

I selected" Action Wizard", then "Create New Action".

I left "Start With" set as "A File Open in Acrobat". 

Clicke "More Tools", "Execute JavaScript", then "Options".

Then I replaced all existing text in the popup window with:

    this.flattenPages();

I left "Save to" set to "Ask When Action is Started" and "Overwrite existing files" checked. 

We are using Worldox document management system. 

[personal information removed]

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 10, 2017 Apr 10, 2017

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It sounds like you're using an older version of Acrobat... Tell it to save the edited files over the existing ones, but make sure you have a backup copy because this command is not reversible!

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 10, 2017 Apr 10, 2017

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I have Acrobat X. 

I'm leaving the box checked that says "Overwrite existing files".

It's set to "Save to" the "Same folder Selected at Start". 

The only Step I have is to Execute JavaScript (the code you sent me). 

The screen blinks a bit when I run the Action, but nothing changes. 

The form is still a fillable form with blue fields and a purple bar at the top.

I really appreciate all your help, but I believe flattening fillable forms as the court requires might be too hard for me to learn.

Thanks,Susan

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 10, 2017 Apr 10, 2017

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Would it be possible for you to share a sample file with us (via Dropbox, Google Drive, Adobe Cloud, etc.)?

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 11, 2017 Apr 11, 2017

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Could you remove ShareFile link after you download the docs?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 11, 2017 Apr 11, 2017

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No. You should do it yourself.

The issue is that your files have the Reader-Rights applied to them, which prevents them from being flattened.

To remove those rights you need to use File - Save A Copy and save them under a new name. Then the Action will work.

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 11, 2017 Apr 11, 2017

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Thank you so much for your help as well as your patience. 

I continue to delete my signature, and do not see a signature on my emails ... so I apologize.

I do not know how to edit a comment to delete my ShareFile link, but I do see that I can delete that entire comment so I've done that.

Thanks again.   Sorry I don't totally understand all the rules.  I rarely ask questions.

Susan

[personal information removed]

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 11, 2017 Apr 11, 2017

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It's not really a signature, it's just that your reply quotes the text of the email you got, so it floods the forum with unnecessary text.

Either delete the contents of the quoted message before sending a reply, or reply via the forums directly instead of via email.

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LEGEND ,
Apr 11, 2017 Apr 11, 2017

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sterrytoon - turn off your email signature. You are replying to a public forum and your contact details are being published on every message.

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LEGEND ,
Apr 11, 2017 Apr 11, 2017

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try67 is correct; flattening anything in Acrobat requires a completely unsecured document (no Reader extensions, no certificates or timestamps, no passwords). Even when the security applied doesn't directly affect what you're trying to do, Acrobat will stop and throw an error as soon as it detects the presence of an encryption flag.

Once you've removed the extended rights, for more control over what gets flattened you might find this useful: https://www.uvsar.com/projects/acrobat/flattener/

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 11, 2017 Apr 11, 2017

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Dave, thank you so much for all your help.  What you're saying makes total sense to me.  Also, thank you for the link to the flattener. 

Susan

[personal information removed]

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