Presentation on theme: "Finding Your Way around the Courthouse. Court Records Online – PACER - Public Access to Court Electronic Records – Case Management: CM/ECF – State Courts."— Presentation transcript:
Court Records Online – PACER - Public Access to Court Electronic Records – Case Management: CM/ECF – State Courts Access & Filing Federal & State Courts Go Digital
Court Records Online: Basic Principles E-record is official –Paper is a format, not the “original” –Paper is expensive E-documents preferable to paper –No preparation or scanning –Cost savings Judicial process remains unchanged.
Accessing Court Records PACER Remote 24-hour access; concurrent access by multiple parties. Download directly from court Automatic email notice of case activity Records include - How would you use this information? Privacy concerns?
Filing Court Records Case Management: CM/ECF Registration required; use restricted Remote 24-hour access; concurrent access by multiple parties. Automatic email notice of case activity Parties responsible for content – privacy concerns
Why Research Court Records? Only 3.2% of federal civil cases and 11% of federal criminal cases make it to trial completion Only 15% of federal district court decisions are reported Only 50-70% of federal appellate court decisions are reported (varies by circuit) 30-50% of federal and state appellate court decisions are unreported
Docket Sheets v. Documents Docket = chronological table of contents to a court file Many courts post docket sheets Fewer courts post documents
Docket Sheets Can Provide: Information about clients & potential clients –Is the client litigious? –Has the client filed for bankruptcy? Filed a legal malpractice action? Been involved in fraud? –Been sued for attorney’s fees? Information about potential hires –Routine background checks Bankruptcy Debt Fraud –Conflicts between firm and prospective hire’s existing clients
Dockets for Current Awareness Has my client been sued, but not served? Who else has sued the party my client wants to sue? Who is suing whom? Hot topics in litigation
Documents Can Provide: Sample pleadings Background information on types of cases heard by particular judges Types of cases opposing counsel usually handle How judge typically rules on motion for summary judgment. Access may be restricted to protect parties
Other Ways to Access Court Records Justia - PACER front end & moreJustia Courtlink - a c omponent of “Total Litigator” from Lexis Westlaw’sCourtExpress Legal Dockets Online LLRX database linking to court rulesLLRX database Some services include state court records.
JustiaJustia: no charge to search federal district court dockets. Subscribe to an RSS feed of all new cases by “Nature of Suit” - topic. Conduct a search and subscribe to an RSS feed of the search results. Link to PACER and news about case.
Courtlink is not available with law school licenses.
File & Service is not available with law school licenses.
Discovery: An Early Step in Litigation Massive quantity of information in variety of formats E-documents, voice mail, email, IM Legacy systems Unresolved questions Litigation holds & preservation of materials Spoliation and adverse inference instructions Cost sharing Changing expectations for “Meet & Confer” Impatient judges; confused lawyers More rule changes coming.
Court Rules – a fair & smooth operation Basic rules for litigation –Federal Rules of Civil Procedure – FRCP –Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure –Federal Rules of Evidence –Rules are in USCA, USCS, court websites… –State court rules – usually part of annotated code – less jurisdictional variation Rules for particular courts – ex. S.CT Provide uniformity, but w/ local rule variations –
Do Court Rules Matter? Rules of the game Courts interpret rules – –Case annotations are crucial –USCA and USCS rules volumes or online Federal Rules Decisions Shepards & KeyCite to update Secondary sources –For commentary & more –Moore’s Federal Practice, 2d –Federal Practice and Procedure