There are many places to locate federal court records and briefs, and each resource has slightly different coverage and documents available. This page lays out the most efficient and cost-effective places to search.
For older federal court records and briefs (before 2008), please consults the page Historical or Archived Records.
CourtListener is a free legal research website containing millions of legal opinions from federal and state courts. CourtListener includes the RECAP Archive, a searchable collection of millions of PACER documents and dockets. While you cannot retrieve PACER documents that are not already in the archive, new PACER documents are added to the RECAP archive every day.
Create a free Court Listener account and download the RECAP browser extension to get 15 free docket tracks. After adding the extension, any document you purchase from PACER through your own account will also be automatically added to RECAP for everyone to use.
Anything somebody else has added to the archive will be available to you for free in RECAP. RECAP allows for daily tracking of 84 of the 94 federal district courts. Please note: The "updated" date on RECAP dockets refer to the date when the last document was added.
Bloomberg Law has access to the dockets of all federal courts and some state courts. With Bloomberg dockets, you can do keyword searches through millions of court documents. Academic users are also able to track a docket, update dockets on-demand, and are able to request documents that are not already available in the database.
Michigan Law Students can self-register for Bloomberg by following the instructions available here https://umil.iii.com/record=e1000401.
Note: Fees associated with searches, tracking alerts, updates, and downloads of docket materials are waived up to a limit. The vast majority of users will not reach the limit.
CourtLink is included in your Lexis account. Click the "product switcher" in the top left of the Lexis+ homepage and select Lexis Advance CourtLink.
CourtLink allows users to view the docket sheets of all federal and many state courts and download any document currently in their database for free.
Academic users are not able to track a docket, request a docket to be updated on-demand, or request a document not already in available in the database.
The Law Library now subscribes to an integration between Fastcase and DocketAlarm. Students may access the database through the law library catalog and search within Fastcase's available state and federal court dockets at no additional charge to them.
Similar to Lexis CourtLink, students are not able to track a docket, request a docket to be updated on-demand, or request a document not already available in the database.
PACER is the official filing system of United States Court System. Although the filings are in the public domain, PACER charges fees for searches and downloads. Anyone is welcome to create a PACER account; note that payment information is required. The Library cannot pre-pay or reimburse PACER fees.
The Law Library's agreement with PACER prohibits the Law Library from distributing passwords and also prohibits the use of PACER outside of the Law Library. One of the other options listed in this guide may serve your needs.
Individual researchers may apply for a PACER fee exemption. Applicants must be working on defined research projects intended for scholarly work, and be prepared to explain why they need such waiver, what their research methods are, and whether they are a student.
These projects make available selected court dockets or documents in full-text. Each clearinghouse typically focuses on a particular topic area.
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse (CRLC)
Michigan Law's CRLC collects documents and information from civil rights cases across the U.S. It is organized by case category, including categories like disability rights/public accommodations, election/voting rights, immigration, policing, prison conditions, equal employment, and child welfare.
Integrated Database (IDB)
The Federal Judicial Center's 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.
Non-Practicing Entity Litigation Database
Stanford's NPE Litigation Database tracks how practicing entities, non-practicing entities, and patent assertion entities (PAEs) use patents in litigation.
Securities Class Action Clearinghouse (SCAC)
Stanford's SCAC maintains a Filings database of 5,811 securities class action lawsuits filed since 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.
This guide links to several places to locate current and historical SCOTUS dockets and documents.
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If you have tried all of these options and not been able to locate a docket filing, fill out the form below for assistance from the Law Library. We cannot guarantee that we will find the document for you, but we will help you figure out next steps.