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Dockets and Court Filings: Historical or Archived Records

This guide is designed to help users navigate dockets to locate filings in ongoing or past cases in federal and state courts.

Older Records and Briefs

Records, briefs, and other filings are among the most elusive legal documents to locate. The older these documents are, the more elusive they become. Many jurisdictions did not begin putting filings online until the mid-2000s, and few (if any) digitized older documents.

As a result, records, briefs, and other filings that are 15+ years old are most likely in print, microfilm, or other physical form, in a court clerk's office, an archive, or a library.

This page has information on finding historical court records for federal and state courts, and highlights some records held by the Michigan Law Library.


Court Websites

For federal records and briefs from before ~2008, check the website of the individual court.

Federal District Courts

Find the contact information of each court on the US Court website

National Archives

The U.S. National Archives include more than 200 years of federal court records. These records are held in locations across the country. More information about finding these materials is on their website.


Historical state court records are often located in archive or library collections, or in the clerk's office. There is no single database or website with older state court records.

Here are suggested steps for locating state court records:

  • Identify which court (state, county, etc.) the records were created for.
    • Check that court's website for information on finding or requesting court records.
    • Reach out to the clerk by phone or email.
  • Go to the website of a major law library in the area--either the state law library or a law school library.
    • See if they have court record information listed on their website.
    • Reach out to their librarians for help locating records. (Librarians love to help!)

Historical Filings in Law Library Collection

The Michigan Law Library holds the records and briefs of the United States Supreme Court and the Michigan Supreme Court. For help with microfilm requests, contact

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Request Help from the Library

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.