Going through court proceedings, whether you’re dealing with a minor offense or something more serious, can be nerve-wracking. For a lot of individuals, doing the small things like obtaining or even understanding the importance of a court docket can be very tricky.
Use this guide to learn more about how to obtain a court docket and do a proper search when the court system in your jurisdiction does not make it easy for you. It may take some legwork on your part, but obtaining a docket for your case isn’t impossible.
A court docket, in the simplest terms, is a record of court proceedings. Depending on the state and jurisdiction where the court proceedings are held, the docket may contain different information. That’s because some courts record more information than others. Common information found in a court docket might include:
These are just a few of the most common things found in a formal court docket. In most cases, dockets are relatively complete, helping paint the picture of a hearing or trial once finished.
Court dockets generally contain the same types of information depending on their particular jurisdiction. In some cases, like high-profile criminal cases, you may find that the docket is more complete and thorough. Common types of court dockets include:
While these are the most common types of dockets available to access, any type of court that holds hearings must create a docket. Some may be harder to track down than others, but court dockets are a part of every court system in the US, no matter how big or small the case.
Obtaining copies of official court dockets can be difficult to do in some jurisdictions. The older the case becomes, the harder it can be to obtain a docket as well. Here are a few ways to get official court docket copies that may be effective:
PACER, or public access to court electronic records, is a system that allows access to federal court docket sheets. PACER was designed to provide access to legal information for a variety of purposes, including those of the public interest, attorneys and legal counsel groups.
As of 2018, PACER charges $0.08 per page for access to court docket sheets within their system. You’ll need to register before you can gain access to dockets within the system. Depending on the time the case was tried, it may or may not be registered within the PACER system. However, it is still an excellent resource, as many federal cases do have dockets available within PACER.
Obtaining court dockets through official channels can be difficult. If you’re simply looking for information and don’t need official copies, online third-party databases may be an easier choice. Databases like Search Quarry can help you obtain public records so you can get the information you need faster.
In general, small fees are charged for obtaining court dockets through third-party websites. However, the convenience of these services often offset the fees charged.
Having a copy of the court docket for a case you were involved in can help you later if questions around the trial come up. They can also help you keep track of the case, involved parties, and the specifics of the case down the road.
If filing a court appeal or dealing with a retrial, court dockets are essential for attorneys and individuals involved. Access to court dockets can also be very important for attorneys and legal students looking for information about specific or high-profile cases for learning purposes.
Obtaining a court docket can seem difficult, but there are multiple avenues out there to help you do it. Use these tips to get the court docket and records you need for your defense, retrial or educational purposes.