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Litigation Practice Guide: Dockets & Court Filings


A docket is a record of all the proceedings and filings in a case. In addition to providing helpful case information, a docket can be a useful first step to locate the court documents filed in a case. Court dockets can also help you determine if a type of case is tried more often as a bench trial or jury trial, if a type of case seems to go to trial in a particular jurisdiction or if tehy seem more likely to settle, what types of experts tend to testify in this type of case, and hep you figure out what claims to bring. 

Historically, court dockets and documents were mainly obtained by visiting the clerk of the court in person, and getting copies of records often involved fees. Since the adoption of electronic case management systems by courts, many dockets and court documents are now available electronically. The electronic availability of dockets and court documents varies by court and date.

Generally, federal records are more readily available online than state records, and appellate records are more readily available online than trial records. It is important to note though that even for records available electronically, accessing them may still involve fees.

With that in mind, these resources are a good starting point, as they will direct you to records that are available electronically. 

Federal Dockets

Cost-Effective Resources

Subscription Based Resources

  • Westlaw Federal Dockets - Use the "Advanced" search link to search by participant name, docket number, filing date, attorney or keyword. Coverage begins with: Supreme Court (2000), US Courts of Appeals (1997), Federal District Courts (2000), Bankruptcy Courts (1997) and Tax Court and other specialized federal courts (2000).
  • Lexis Advance Federal Dockets - Provides dockets for Supreme Court, US Courts of Appeals, Federal District Courts, Bankruptcy Courts, Tax Court and other specialized federal courts

  • US Bankruptcy Courts (Lexis) - 1994 to present and a few records from 1923 - 1994. Filter by Circuit, date, attorney, law firm, judge and case status.
  • US Courts of Appeals (Lexis) - Extensive coverage from 2001 to present; some coverage from 1932 - 2001. Civil and criminal cases. Filter by Circuit, judge, party, attorney, law firm, practice area, case status or date.
  • US District Courts--Civil (Lexis) - Extensive coverage from 1991; some additional cases from 1893-1991. Filter by date, practice area, parties, attorneys, judge, cause of action or case type.
  • US District Courts--Criminal (Lexis) - Extensive coverage from 1995 to present with some coverage from 1900-1995. Filter by Circuit, date, practice area, judge or case type.
  • United States Supreme Court (Lexis) - Extensive coverage from 2003 to present; some dockets from 1953 - 2003. Filter by date, practice area, attorney, litigants or case status.
  • Additional Federal Courts (Lexis) - Tax Court, International Trade Court, US Court of Claims and Judicia

State Dockets

State court websites may also give you access to recent dockets although the types of cases, years of coverage and depth of information included varies widely from one jurisdiction to the next. To find court websites for other states, use these directories:

  • University of Indiana's State Court Dockets, Records, Case Opinions
    50-State Research containing Court Dockets, Records and Opinions. Links to each state's judiciary, Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and District Courts, and state court structure chart.
  • National Center for State Courts Public Access to Court Records
    This page provides judicial branch links for each state, focusing on the administrative office of the courts, the court of last resort, any intermediate appellate courts, and each trial court level. 
  • Legal 

    Note: federal links take you to PACER which requires you to set up a paid account. State links vary but most will take you to docket databases provided by the individual courts themselves.

    Provides public records searching and contact information for courts, and law enforcement all over the country.



Court Filings

Agency Decisions & Publications

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