PACER

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Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) is an online service of the United States Judiciary that provides case and docket information from federal appellate, district and bankruptcy courts.

How can I use PACER in the Kathrine R. Everett Law Library?

If you are a law student and need to use PACER as a part of your research for a journal or class, or for a faculty-approved project, please visit the reference desk. Because there is a cost associated with PACER use, the library is only authorized to run PACER searches for limited academically approved searches for law students and faculty. If you need to use PACER extensively for your project, your project is work-related, or if you are not a law student or faculty member, you will need to set up your own PACER account.

  • If you need to set up your own PACER account, you can use the PACER online registration form. You must provide your name, address, phone number and email address. You can register either using a credit card and receive your login by email, or by other payment methods and receive your login and pasword by U.S. Mail.
  • You can also visit a federal courthouse to use PACER without registering for an account.

What information is available on PACER?

  • a listing of all parties and participants including judges, attorneys and trustees
  • a compilation of case related information such as cause of action, nature of suit and dollar demand
  • a chronology of dates of case events entered in the case record
  • a claims registry
  • listings of new cases each day in all courts
  • written judicial opinions
  • judgments or case status

What are you trying to find on PACER?

Find a case/document from a case

  • PACER displays documents filed electronically from the Case Management/Electronic Case Filing (CM/ECF) system, used by the Federal Judiciary for all bankruptcy, district and appellate courts. CM/ECF allows courts to accept filings and provide access to filed documents over the Internet.
  • If you are searching for a specific case or a document from a case and know the court where the case was filed, you may search that court's PACER site individually.
  • Example: Locating a brief from AT&T vs. FCC, a Third Circuit Court of Appeals case (Docket Number 08-4024)
    • From the PACER home page, select the "Find a Case" tab.
    • Then select "Search Individual Court PACER Web Sites".
    • Select the Third Circuit - ECF
    • Each Court has a PACER login page which leads directly to the Case Search page. You may search by case number, party name, social security number, or tax identification number in the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts. You may search by case number, party name or filing date range in the U.S. District Courts. You may search by case number or party/attorney name in the U.S. Courts of Appeals.
    • You will retrieve a list of matching cases from your search. From this list, you can now choose an item and view the docket and links to related case documents by clicking on the case number (in our example, 08-4024).
    • You will retrieve a docket summary page which includes a link to view the full docket and the per page cost of retrieving the full docket. The full docket provides a chronological list of the documents filed in the case. If a document is available through PACER, the docket entry will include a link.

Search across federal cases

  • PACER now includes a global search tool that allows you to search across cases in all federal courts. This tool is called the PACER Case Locator.
  • You can use the tabs on the top to navigate between the different types of courts.
  • The search options are different depending on which type of court you have selected.
  • If you select "All Courts" (see screen above), you must know either your Case Number (Docket Number) or Party name in order to search.
  • For appellate and civil litigation, you can also conduct searches based on "Nature of Suit", but categories are very general.
  • You will retrieve a list of matching cases from your search. From this list, you can now choose an item and view the docket.

Find statistical information on the federal courts

  • For researchers interested in federal court caseload data and statistics, a number of statistical reports can be found on PACER by selecting the Statistics Tab on the top of the page from the Pacer Case Locator screen.
  • Statistical Reports include Civil Justice Reform Act (CJRA) Reports from 1998 until 2010. For CJRA Reports from 2010 to the present, use the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts website.
  • Statistical Reports available on PACER are still subject to the charge of $.08 per page.

What kind of searching and information cannot be found on PACER?

  • PACER is only a service of the federal courts. If you are looking for information regarding a case filed in a state court, you will need to check the clerk of court for that particular court to see if any docket information can be found online.
  • You cannot use PACER to locate a set of cases isolated on a more discrete legal issue. You cannot use PACER to search for a particular type of document.
  • PACER's database does not include a full-text search of all federally filed cases.
  • PACER is limited by date. If you are looking for a case prior to 2000, it may not be contained within the PACER online database.
  • The U.S. Tax Court has its own individual database at the U.S. Tax Court website. Its cases are not contained within PACER.
  • PACER does not include cases from the U.S. Federal Circuit.

Tips for PACER use

  • If you are a law student and need to obtain a document from a federal case, please come to the reference desk with the following case information: docket number and party names. It also is helpful if you have the number of the document you are seeking from the docket sheet. You can obtain this first using the Westlaw database DOCK-FED-ALL, to search for relevant docket information. Use this database first, as it gives you more search options for locating the case.
    • You cannot download individual documents using this database on Westlaw, but you can view the entire docket (summary of all actions taken in that case).
  • If the cost of PACER is an issue, be aware that some documents may be available in the public domain using the "Recap" plug-in for Mozilla Firefox. CAUTION: The documents available in Recap are not verified as authentic.


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