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Accessing Court Dockets

By Merle J. Slyhoff, Collection Development Librarian

 

QUESTION - TRUE OR FALSE: You need an amicus brief or a memorandum for a case. You know it's a document in the docket, and that means accessing PACER, but only the Biddle librarians can access that resource.

ANSWER - TRUE AND FALSE: While it is true that only Biddle librarians can access PACER, dockets are also available in a resource that any law student can access - Bloomberg Law! What's that? You don't have a Bloomberg account? Read on to quickly solve the access issue and to learn how to use Bloomberg Law for docket research.

Go to bloomberglaw.com and click on the Law Schools tab. Click on "Register for a Law School Account" and complete the information, leaving the Activation Code blank. Within a few hours you will be sent an email with your login information.

To research dockets, select Getting Started > Research > Dockets. Bloomberg Law contains Federal dockets, including the U.S. Tax Court and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and state level dockets. Selected international dockets, including European Court of Justice Filings, U.K. Court Dockets, and Toronto Superior Court Dockets are also available through the International tab. From the pull-down menu select the court you need to access.

Searches can be executed in a number of ways, including keyword, party names, case name, judge, attorney, or docket number. You can further refine your search depending on the court you are accessing. In the example below, we are searching the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for 09-cv-01111.  A search brings up the case Moleski v. Ross. Click on the case name to open the docket history. PDFs of the court documents are opened by clicking on the Req. # to the left of the entry.

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If your document is not accessible through Bloomberg Law, a reference librarian can check to see if it is available through PACER.  Additional information on accessing dockets, both text and video, is available by clicking on the Help button on the top right of the Bloomberg Law screen and selecting options under Dockets. 

And of course, you can stop by the reference desk for help, use Biddle's Chat Reference service, or ask a question via email https://www.law.upenn.edu/library/ask-a-librarian.php.