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PACER: Public Access to Court Electronic Records

23 May 2011

Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) is an electronically-accessed public service allowing users to obtain case and docket information for the United States’ federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts. This means you may search its databases online for information related to federal litigation.

The PACER Case Locator is a national index for U.S. district, bankruptcy, and appellate courts on which nationwide searches may be conducted to determine whether or not a particular party is involved in federal litigation.

Each of the courts in the federal system maintains its own database with case information; therefore each jurisdiction will have a different URL.

PACER is a service of the United States Judiciary operated by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.

There is a nominal fee associated with this service — typically about .08 cents per page — though registration is free.

PACER is available to anyone who registers for an account: in other words, you do not have to be an attorney nor a legal professional to access the databases and records. The electronic files maintained by PACER are a matter of public record. Aside from attorneys and legal professionals, there are nearly one million current PACER users, including government entities, researchers, educational institutions, and pro se filers, amongst others.

To get started with PACER:

Register for a PACER (case search acct)
For a complete listing of court home pages go here
PACER policy and procedures

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Sami K. Hartsfield, ACP is a freelance writer and paralegal in Houston. She holds a degree in paralegal studies with a 4.0 GPA and a bachelor of science degree in political science, graduating summa cum laude. Sami interned with Texas’ 14th Court of Appeals under Chief Justice Adele Hedges, and completed the University of Houston Law Center’s Summer 2008 Prelaw Institute. She is preparing to enter law school in the fall and holds a national advanced paralegal certification as well as six specialty certifications: Discovery; Trial Practice; Contracts Management; Individual & Entity Medical Liability; and Social Security Disability Law. You can find her on Facebook and e-mail her with questions, comments, or ideas at

Sami Hartsfield


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