Individual court websites may also provide public search engines to their docket information. As with the online services, dates of availability will vary greatly. For quick access to an individual court's website, consult the National Center for State Courts' list of State Court Web Sites. You may also Browse by State.
For cases from dates or jurisdictions which are not included in the electronic services, you may be able to obtain docket information from a compiled set of records and briefs.
Court Records Free Reference and Directory provides a guide to finding free court records from trial courts from state to state.
State court documents may also be provided on some free legal document repositories, such as JD Supra and The Smoking Gun. 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 general web search to locate free postings.
Online availability of docket information and underlying pleadings varies greatly from state to state and court to court within that state. In general, if a particular state court makes dockets and pleadings available online, there will be a link or a tab on the home page to access a search page, either through a "Case Information" or "Online Case Search" link.
Many state courts post docket sheet information on the Internet. You find most of these sites through Legal Dockets Online, the LLRX Court Rules, Forms and Dockets, the Public Access to Court Records page by the National Center for State Courts or link to them from the court's home page.
In addition, a number of commercial services provide state court dockets and generally offer better search features (e.g., subject-matter searching with NOS codes). Leading services include CourtLink, Westlaw, and CourtExpress. These services mostly cover the same courts, but you can search two or three of them for maximum coverage.
If that doesn't work, get the docket sheet from the court or the attorneys on the case.
State-specific information is available in many of the entries for individual states. See, e.g., Alabama, which uses only its own court-approved fee-based systems.
The U.S. National Archives provides a directory of state libraries and state archives.
Bloomberg Law also offers dockets for state courts. The dockets database is user-friendly and those who would like to request a Bloomberg Law account need only fill out a form with your name and email, or contact Ellen Augustiniak at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To begin your docket search, click on "Dockets" underneath "Research Tools" in the homepage. A Dockets Search window will appear. Once you have retrieved a docket sheet, be sure to click on the "Update Docket" link above the docket sheet. To view changes and additions to the docket since the last updated date (shown at the top of the sheet), click on "Update Docket" and then click on "Submit." You can view the results of the updated docket by going to the email inbox associated with your Bloomberg account.
You can view some of the underlying documents by clicking next to the docket item numbers which appear as chronologically assigned numbers on the far left side of the docket sheet. Retrieve documents that have already been previously uploaded to Bloomberg by clicking View. Documents that have not been previously uploaded can be requested by clicking Request. You can then check for the result by going to the email inbox associated with your Bloomberg account. If the document is available, you will receive a link to the item; if it is not, your email will read "The document you have requested requires a courier to retrieve." This service is not available under UCI's subscription plan.
Dockets and pleadings from other state courts may be available online on the court's website, from the court's clerk, or from libraries within the geographic region of the court.
LexisNexis and Westlaw provide some dockets for state courts as well, although the coverage varies widely by state. Note also that some states provide only civil, not criminal, materials.
On Lexis Advance, follow the path Dockets > State to view available databases.
On Westlaw, follow Dockets > Dockets by State to view available state docket databases. Westlaw dockets include the basic case summary information as well as the itemized list of filings. In some cases, the available documents will be linked in PDF below the entries on the docket sheet. (Underneath each individual entry, there will be a link to "Send Runner to the Court"; this retrieval service is not available to educational accounts.)
On Westlaw, type in "dockets' in the universal search box. This will take you to the Dockets page where you can search all courts or specific courts. Each court's coverage will vary. WL also gives the option of searching dockets by topic.