News and information useful to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law students, faculty and staff.

Free PACER Training Site for Federal Court Dockets

The federal court docket system, PACER, normally charges 8 cents a page for access, which will  increase to ten cents a page on April 1, 2012.  For students who want to play around on the system and see how it works, there is a free PACER training site which contains cases filed in the New York Western District Court between 1/1/2007 and 7/1/2007.   You can type in a last name, retrieve dockets and pull up the full text of documents.

Additionally, you can set up a PACER account to access everything on PACER and you will not be billed if you stay under $10.00 per quarter.  This exemption will increase to $15.00 a quarter starting April 1, 2012.

These actual filings can serve as examples to guide you when you need to draft a pleading or motion.  PACER does not have full text searching of the documents.  You can search by party name,attorney name, type of case and case number.  You can try looking for a relevant case in a case law database first, and then go to a docket such as PACER.  For Ohio examples, try the Summit County docket which allows you to search by document type (eg. complaint, notice of bankruptcy, writ of habeas corpus, etc.) and case type, as well as party name and case number.

PACER Goes Mobile

The new mobile PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) Case Locator allows you to search for court records in all district, bankruptcy, and appellate courts using any Apple or Android device. Read more about mobile PACER in the PACER Newsletter. Accessing documents costs 8 cents per page, or you can contact a librarian for alternative access.   The fees will soon be raised to 10 cents a page.  See our prior post.

Thanks to the Moritz Legal Information Blog for the tip.

Judicial Conference Votes to Raise Fee for Federal Dockets

The Judicial Conference voted  See their News Release dated Sept. 13, 2011.   The conference voted to increase costs for PACER, the federal courts’ electronic docket system, from 8 cents a page to 10 cents a page.  The Conference increase the quarterly exemption amount  – PACER users who do not accrue charges of more than $15 in a quarterly billing cycle would not be charged a fee. (The current exemption is $10 per quarter.) (Thanks to the Barco Blog)

The library has a PACER account and can obtain documents for C|M|LAW students and faculty for academic purposes.  Some court docket information is available via Lexis and Westlaw law school accounts.  See  the library’s  Court, Dockets, Rules and Briefs page for more information and direct links to the Lexis and Westlaw docket databases.

PACER users may want to consider cost saving options such as:

  • Recap – A Firefox extension that will indicate which documents are in Recap’s free archive, when you pull up the docket on Pacer, and allow you to access the free documents. When you pull a document off Pacer, it saves it to the Recap archive. Searchable archive available.

Audio Files Now Available via PACER Federal Docket

PACER is now adding audiofiles of court hearings, accessible for a cost of $2.40 each.  According to Pacer Service Center Quarterly, Oct. 2010:

“Currently, the following courts provide access to audio files through the PACER system with more courts to be added at a later date: the U.S. District Courts in Nebraska and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania; the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts in the Eastern District of North Carolina, Middle District of Florida, Northern District of Alabama, Rhode Island and Maine. Many other courts are in the early stages of implementing the initiative.

Digital recordings of hearings can be identified by running a Docket Activity Report and selecting the “Audio” category.”

For those unfamiliar with PACER , (more…)


From our friends at United States Courts:
75 Percent of PACER Users Won’t Pay for Access Under New Fee Schedule
July 09, 2010

A recent change in the fee exemption policy of the Federal Judiciary’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records system means that 75 percent of PACER users won’t pay any fee this year.

The policy-making Judicial Conference of the United States approved last March 16 an adjustment to the Electronic Public Access Fee Schedule so that users are not billed unless they accrue charges of more than $10 of PACER usage in a quarterly billing cycle.  See our prior post, Federal Courts Vote for More Free Access.

That adjustment was implemented almost immediately after the Conference action.

Previously, users were not billed until their accounts totaled at least $10 in a one-year period. The result of the adjustment has the effect of quadrupling the amount of data available without charge. About 50 percent of all PACER users did not pay a fee in 2009, and preliminary indications are that the percentage will climb to 75 in 2010 under the new fee schedule.