As some of you may have already heard, PACER, the online repository for records and filings from U.S. Federal Courts, recently removed documents from five courts in preparation for an update to the system. Though efforts are underway by some private organizations to find a way to make these documents publicly available again, this has left many PACER users concerned about how to find these documents (which included records from some high profile cases) in the meantime. If you find yourself looking for these documents, there are a couple of approaches you can take.
First, all Harvard Law School students have access to Bloomberg Law, which offers a helpful docket search feature. While it does not include records for all cases, its easy search interface and the fact that new records are added all the time makes it a good first source. To search for a docket, login into Bloomberg Law and click Litigation & Dockets in the top menu. Then select Search Dockets from the resulting drop down menu.
If you don’t find the record you need in Bloomberg Law, you can also visit the RECAP Archive. This free database collects federal court documents that are gathered by the RECAP browser extension. (You might also consider installing the extension yourself; it is available for both Chrome and Firefox). While the archive does not include all court records, it is growing all the time, so it is a good starting point for items not on PACER or Bloomberg Law.
If you find that the records aren’t available electronically, we have collected information about how to request materials from each of the courts that had items removed from PACER below:
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit: Records can be requested by emailing the Clerk’s Officer per their online instructions.
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit: Contact the court per their online instructions.
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit: Contact the Clerk’s Office per their online instructions.
- U.S. Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit: Contact the Clerk’s Office or the Library.
- U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California: Follow their instructions for requesting documents by phone.
If you are looking for further information on how to find court records and briefs, you can also refer to our research guide on the topic.