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Dockets and Pleadings: District Courts

Locating dockets, pleadings, and related materials for federal, state, and select international courts.

Overview

Visit LLRX's Court Rules, Forms and Dockets page or the PACER Service Center to find PACER Web sites. Otherwise, use CourtLink, CourtExpress or get the docket sheet from the court. Justia's Federal District Court Filings & Dockets page let's you search for district court cases back to January 1, 2006 for free, but you may get just the caption and not the list of filings.

PACER and RECAP

PACER provides docket information from bankruptcy, district, and circuit courts, generally from 1996 to the present.  Many of the pleadings listed in the docket is available full-text, some in PDF.  PACER is a subscription-based service and is only for librarian use at the Reference Desk.  You are welcome to set up your own account at this registration page.  The current fee is 10 cents per page.

RECAP and RECAP Archive - Many pleadings from PACER have been uploaded to RECAP, an initiative to provide greater open acess to the public records in PACER.  RECAP is a Firefox add-on that needs to be installed and is only active in the Firefox browser.  However, the RECAP Archive is available on all browsers and does not require an add-on installation.

Free Resources

Other popular free court document repositories include JD Supra, The Smoking Gun, and Justia's Legal News. The case parties, attorneys, or interested organizations (such as those which filed an amicus brief) may also have posted documents related to the case online; conduct a search of the general web to locate free postings.

The Justia Docket Search is a free front-end search engine linked to PACER, which can assist with locating preliminary information about a federal District Court case (2004-present; selective cases from earlier years). Justia Docket Search results provide basic information about a case, and link directly into PACER for additional results (such as the full docket sheet and links to full-text filings). Selected cases may also include free copies of the documents themselves. Note that Justia does not index dockets from the U.S. Courts of Appeals (Circuit Courts) or Bankruptcy Courts.