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MEJO *53: Reporting & Writing News: Legal Filings

Court Listener & PACER

Alternative: PACER

The Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system offers case and docket information from Federal Appellate, District, and Bankruptcy courts. PACER provides detailed case information not available on Westlaw Next, including:

  • a listing of all parties and participants including judges, attorneys and trustees; 
  • a compilation of case-related information such as cause of action, complaint, and all case documents;
  • a chronology of dates of case events entered in the case record;
  • written judicial opinions.

for federal court cases only. 

You must register with PACER to search: registration form (credit card required for speedy access; or read details about "search only" access to PACER). After you've registered, login to PACER.  

Confused? Check out Pacing Yourself with PACER, a 2012 presentation by Madeline Cohen on using PACER.

Park Library & PACER

A librarian can retrieve documents for you from PACER at no charge. Here are the details:

  • Send the librarian the case or party names, and court or state information -- include the case number if at all possible (i.e., 3:07-CV-00603).
  • [Find these by searching the Federal Dockets in Westlaw Next]
  • The librarian will generate a Docket Report for the case and will send it to you.
  • Let the librarian know which documents you want from that docket. They will download them from PACER and send them to you within a day or two.

RECAP (or PACER for free on FireFox or Chrome)

RECAP is an extension (or “add on”) for Firefox and Chrome. If you are logged in to PACER and have downloaded the RECAP extension, AND you see a document in PACER that's in RECAP ... you'll get the document for free!

More: RECAP helps PACER users build a free and open repository of public court records. RECAP users automatically donate the documents they purchase from PACER into a public repository hosted by the Internet Archive. And RECAP saves users money by alerting them when a document they are searching for is already available from this repository. 

More about RECAP.

PACER Charges

PACER charges $0.10 per page retrieved. This applies to both the pages of search results and the pages of documents you retrieve. 

The charge for any single document is capped at $3.00, the equivalent of 30 pages. If you accrue a total of less than $15.00 worth of charges in any given quarter, fees are waived for that quarter.

This information is accurate as of December 11, 2013, and is taken from their FAQ.

Congressional Materials