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Court Briefs, Oral Arguments & Dockets Research Guide: Finding Docket Information

Docket: Research Guides

Yale Law School - Docket Research
Berkeley Law - Docket Information and Court Filings
Boston University School of Law - Strategies for Finding Dockets

Documents in Dockets

A docket shows you all of the court materials involved in the case. It is basically a schedule of a case's proceedings used by courts to track all event,s hearings, filings, and decisions in a case. In most dockets you will find: 

  • The Docket Number: This number is the court’s official identifying number for the case.
  • Nature of Suit: This code on federal district, circuit and bankruptcy court dockets gives you a general idea of the main issues involved in the case.
  • Parties and Attorneys: This section lists all the parties involved. Next to a party’s name is the name of the party’s attorneys and the contact information of each attorney.
  • Docket Proceedings: This is the list of events that occur in the case. It also contains links to the documents filed with the court and by the court (such as orders and decisions)

Example of a docket: This is the first page of the docket from Hastings Christian Fellowship v. Martinez:

Hastings CLS v Martinez

 

Sources of Docket Information

There are websites and databases where you can obtain dockets. Usually you will need the case name or the docket number to locate your case.

It might be difficult to search by docket number because docket numbers are not in a standard format, for example they may or may not include a number for the year and they may contain a mix of numbers, letters and symbols such as parentheses, slashes and dashes. 

Below is a list of good websites and databases for locating dockets. Bloomberg Law.is often the best docket resource for UC Hastings students. 

Court Websites:

  • Most courts have websites where you can obtain the dockets.
  • However, most of these court websites just send you to PACER which is described below.

Bloomberg Law:

  • Bloomberg has the most coverage of dockets. Coverage includes federal courts and selected state and international courts. Dockets coverage includes the United States Judicial Panel on Mutlidistrict Litigation. There are multiple ways to access a dockets which will be described below: 
    • (1) Use the <GO> Bar and enter the docket number or party name. From the drop down list that appears use "citation search" for docket number and "dockets by party name" for party name. 
    • (2) Click on the Search & Browse on the menu. Select Dockets. This opens up a page that enables you to search for dockets by selecting a court from the source list or using many different fields including Keywords, Docket Number, Party Options, Judge, Case Name, Attorney, Firm or Date Range. 
    • (3) Click on Litigation & Dockets on the menu. Select Breaking Complaints which gives you access to complaints before they are available to the general public. Bloomberg Law has in-court researchers who collect newly filed, high-profile complaints and manually create a docket so you have expedited access to these complaints.

Lexis:

  •  You can either do a general search at the beginning and just but the case name in the search box. Once the search is done then click on dockets or Dkts to search through the dockets. Another way is before the search under content type click dockets. Not all of the cases will have dockets.

Westlaw:

  • First click on dockets. The dockets are divided up into different categories: all federal or state dockets, federal dockets by court, dockets by state, dockets by territory, and dockets by topic. You can search within each category to find a specific docket. Not all of the cases will have dockets and the coverage will depend on the jurisdiction. Most coverage begins after 2000. 

PACER:

  • PACER is the government's Public Access to Court Electronic Records website. It is an electronic public access service that allows registered users to obtain case and docket information from federal appellate, district and bankruptcy courts. 
  • PACER access at UC Hastings is limited by account to the Reference Librarians. Contact the Reference Desk for assistance, or use one fo the good PACER alternatives such as Bloomberg Law and RECAP.

RECAP:

  • The RECAP Archive is a searchable collection of millions of PACER documents and dockets collected and hosted for free by The Free Law Project.  This archive was created to help with some of the public access problems in using PACER.         
  • Using this archive, you can finally search and download millions of PACER documents, including originally scanned PDFs that have been converted to text at the RECAP Archive.

Google:

  • Sometimes a general Google search will work to locate dockets in more popular cases. Type in the case name and docket number.