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.

State Court System and Structure

Before retrieving a court document, it is important to understand a state's court system and structure. The following resources contain information and links to access each state's court website and judicial structure. 

Court Statistics Project, State Court Structure Charts

National Center for State Courts, State Court Web Sites.


Commercial Resources for State Court Dockets Research

Lexis's State Briefs Library provides access to briefs filed in the state courts. Lexis's State Dockets Library provides access to docket sheets of all state 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 state courts Coverage varies by jurisdiction. Westlaw's Trial Court Documents bank contains selected state trial court documents. You may also search in Westlaw's State Dockets library. Coverage varies by jurisdiction. 

Before searching in each state's docket library, make sure to click i icon to find out the coverage of each state. 

Similar to federal court docket research, you may also consider looking up a case first and then click fillings. 

Bloomberg Law also provides access to state 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 the 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. 



Free or Government Resources to Access State Court Dockets

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

State court websites also provide information on how to retrieve state court documents. The following resources have compiled links to state court websites that include the relevant information to request state court documents. 

Yale Law Library, State Court Records and Briefs

Harvard Law Library, State Court Sources by State

Indiana Law Library, State Court Dockets, Records, Case Opinions.

National Center for State Courts, Privacy/Public Access to Court Records State Links.




Virginia State Records and Briefs

In addition to Lexis, Westlaw and Bloomberg, you may also consult the following resources to locate VA state records and briefs. 

Our subscription to Hein includes access to VA Supreme Court Records and Briefs. 

You may also access VA Supreme Court Records and Briefs through the Law Library's Scholarly Commons Page. Please note that our Scholarly Commons collection includes records that are not otherwise available through Hein. 

To access the Records and Briefs of the VA Court of Appeals and District Courts, please contact the individual court's clerk's office for more information.