Find a Case (PACER)
Locate a federal court case by using the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) or by visiting the Clerk’s Office of the courthouse where the case was filed.
Electronic Case Files
Federal case files are maintained electronically and are available through the internet-based Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service. PACER allows anyone with an account to search and locate appellate, district, and bankruptcy court case and docket information. Register for a PACER account.
- Use the PACER Case Locator if you are not sure which specific federal court the case was filed. You may also conduct nationwide searches to determine whether or not a party is involved in a federal case. This database updates at midnight each day.
- Access federal case documents in real-time if you know the specific court the case was filed in by logging into PACER.
Case files may also be accessed from the public access terminals in the clerk’s office of the court where the case was filed.
Paper Case Files
Most cases created before 1999 are maintained in paper format only. Access paper case files from the court, where the case was filed, or at one of the Federal Records Centers (FRCs). Contact the court where the case was filed for more information.
Phone Access to Court Records
All bankruptcy courts have a telephone information system, also known as the Voice Case Information System, that enables callers to obtain basic case information through a touchtone phone. This is free to use and available 24 hours a day.
Court opinions are available for free on PACER to anyone with an account. Additionally, access to court opinions from many appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts are available for no fee in a text searchable format through a partnership with the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO), consistent with the E-Government Act.
Older Historical Court Records
When court records and case files are eligible for permanent preservation, they are transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for storage and preservation. These records can be accessed directly from NARA.
- Electronic and paper court records retained at the court site can be viewed at the courthouse for free, however there is a fee of 10 cents per page to print from a public access terminal.
- There is a fee of 10 cents per page to access a file through PACER, with a maximum charge of $3.00 per document. Users are billed on a quarterly basis. Fees are waived for anyone accruing less than $30 in a quarter. Learn more about how PACER fees work.
- There is a $64 fee to retrieve a document for viewing that is from the Federal Records Center. See the Electronic Public Access Fee Schedule for details.
Fee Exemptions for Researchers
Individual researchers working on defined research projects intended for scholarly work can use the attached form (pdf) to request PACER fee exemptions from multiple courts. In accordance with the EPA fee schedule, the request should be limited in scope, and not be intended for redistribution on the internet or for commercial purposes.
Please note, if you are seeking a fee exemption from a single court and/or for non-research purposes, contact that court directly.
Define the data needs for research using the Federal Court Cases Integrated Database (IDB) provided free of charge by the Federal Judicial Center. The IDB has case data (not documents) for criminal, civil, appellate, and bankruptcy cases that can help researchers refine their requests.
Other Court Records
Information on accessing opinions and case-related documents for the Supreme Court of the United States is available on the court’s website.
If you have any questions, please contact the PACER Service Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 676-6856.