Federal and State Docket Research

This guide is created to introduce the major resources and basic strategies of conducting docket research. Please contact Alex Zhang (azhang@wlu.edu) for questions or comments.

Supreme Court Records and Briefs

You may access court documents of the US Supreme Court cases from the following resources: 

The Making of Modern Law, Supreme Court Records and Briefs, 1832-1978. This resource "contains the world's most comprehensive online collection of records and briefs brought before the nation's highest court by leading legal practitioners -- many who later became judges and associates of the court. It includes transcripts, applications for review, motions, petitions, supplements, and other official papers of the most-studied and talked-about cases, including many that resulted in landmark decisions. This collection serves the needs of students and researchers in American legal history, politics, society, and government, as well as practicing attorneys." [Publisher's Description] To access it, go to W&L Law Library Homepage and then click Additional Resources under Resource. 

Proquest Supreme Court Insight, 1975-2017. This database contains court documents of US Supreme Court cases from 1975 to 2017.  Proquest has provided a detailed guide on how to access the materials online. 

Westlaw Brief Bank contains the U.S. Supreme Court Documents: Briefs (1930-), selected Petitions (1985-). and selected joint appendices (1982-). 

Lexis's Supreme Court Briefs, Pleadings, and Motions Library provides access to Supreme Court court documents in full text as well. 

The U.S. Supreme Court website provides docket information for cases heard since October 2017 term.

SCOTUS Blog also provides court documents in full text for cases argued from the October 2007 term.

The U.S. Department of State, Office of the Solicitor General provides selected briefs filed since the 1982 term. 

Courtlistener also allows users to search for oral arguments and other court documents of all federal court cases including the Supreme Court in full text. The date of coverage varies. 

 

Federal Court Records and Briefs

There are multiple resources for you to locate federal court records and briefs as well: 

Lexis's Federal Briefs Library provides access to briefs filed in all federal courts. Lexis's Federal Dockets Library provides access to docket sheets of all Federal courts. Coverage varies by jurisdiction. You may also access Lexis's CourtLink to retrieve court documents. Please note that the docket coverage of CourtLink is generally limited compared to Bloomberg Law. To access CourtLink, click Lexis+ after logging into Law School Lexis, and then click the icon next to Lexis + and then click Lexis Advance CourtLink. 


Westlaw's Briefs bank contains selected briefs filed in the US Court of Appeals and the U.S. Tax Court. Coverage varies by jurisdiction. Westlaw's Trial Court Documents bank contains selected federal trial court documents. You may also search in Westlaw's Dockets library. Coverage varies by jurisdiction. You may check the coverage of individual court by clicking the Coverage Map on the right under Tools and Resources. Westlaw's coverage is limited compared to Bloomberg Law's coverage. 

 

You may also find court documents by looking up a case first and then click Filings. 


Bloomberg Law continues to provide access to federal court dockets. To access Bloomberg docket, click Litigation Intelligence Center on the left after  logging into Bloomberg. You may also click dockets search under popular links. Either way, please make sure to read the Policy on Academic Use of Dockets under Attention: Academic Users. 

 

 

After clicking Litigation Intelligence Center, you will be able to conduct a quick search by entering the docket number and the court. 

Or if you do not already know the docket number and the court, click Dockets Advanced Search to search by keyword or other options.

Bloomberg has recently imposed a per-user cap and an institutional cap on the usage of its docket library for educational accounts. Under the new policy, an individual user is allowed to use research and retrieve dockets, up to $1,500 per calendar year in PACER-related charges on Bloomberg Law. Updating dockets, tracking dockets, and requesting documents that are not otherwise already available in the system will trigger a cost. Viewing dockets and downloading documents that are already available to "view" continues to be free. 

 

For more information about Bloomberg docket charges, see its price list. 

To help you minimize the cost and avoid reaching the per-calendar-year limit, please reach out to Alex Zhang (azhang@wlu.edu) or a librarian at lawref@wlu.edu, if you are doing or plan to do research that would involve extensive or regular docket updating or court document retrievals. We will meet you to discuss strategies for effective and efficient docket searching and document retrieval. 


Pacer is the official federal court filing system, which is accessible for a fee by users to conduct docket research and retrieve court documents. The Law Library does not subscribe to Pacer. If you would like to use Pacer, please consult this website first for its coverage and fee schedule. 


Justia Dockets provides selective and free access to federal court docket sheets. 

Court Listener provides selective and free access to federal court documents and filings 


None of the resources above provides access to older federal court records and briefs (pre-2008). For historical documents, please check individual court website. 

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (Contact Court Clerk's Office)

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit 

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit 

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (Contact Court Case Management Office)

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Contact Court Clerk's Office) 

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit 

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (Contact Court Clerk's Office) 

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit 

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit 

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (Contact Court Clerk's Office)

United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit 

For the U.S. District Courts, use the directory provided by the United States Court website to locate the contact information of each court. 

You may also consider contacting the National Archives directly. 

 

Litigation Clearinghouse and Research Projects

There are several litigation clearinghouse projects that make available selected court dockets or court documents available in full text by topic. 

Federal Judicial Center, Integrated Database (IDB). "The IDB contains data on civil case and criminal defendant filings and terminations in the district courts, along with bankruptcy court and appellate court case information. The FJC receives regular updates of the case-related data that are routinely reported by the courts to the AOUSC. The FJC then post-processes the data, consistent with the policies of the Judicial Conference of the United States governing access to these data, into a unified longitudinal database, the IDB." [Publisher's Description] For more information about the coverage, see https://www.fjc.gov/research/idb.

University of Michigan Law School, Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse. "The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, at the University of Michigan Law School, brings together and analyzes information and documents about important civil rights cases across the United States."  [Publisher's Description] It is organized by over twenty case categories. For more information about the coverage, see https://www.clearinghouse.net/about.php.

Stanford Law School, Securities Class Action Clearinghouse. "The SCAC team maintains a Filings database of 5,807 securities class action lawsuits filed since the passage of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The database also contains copies of complaints, briefs, dispositive orders, and other litigation-related materials filed in these cases." [Publisher's Description] For more information about the coverage, see http://securities.stanford.edu/about-the-scac.html.

Stanford Law School, NPE Litigation Database. For more information about the coverage, see https://law.stanford.edu/projects/stanford-npe-litigation-database/#slsnav-suggested-research-uses. 

Brooklyn Law School, Trade Secret Litigation Database. This website tracks recently filed trade secret litigation cases as well as relevant legislative developments, see http://tsi.brooklaw.edu/about. 

Court Listener, Bulk Data Files. "For developers, legal researchers, journalists, and anybody else that might be interested, we provide bulk files containing many types of our data. Several types of files are available as listed below, but in general the files that are available correspond to the major types of data we have in our database, such as opinions, oral arguments, dockets, and judges. We do not offer bulk PDF downloads because of the size of such files." [Publisher's Description]  For more information about the coverage, see https://www.courtlistener.com/api/bulk-info/.