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Dockets, Court Documents, Transcripts, and Recordings: Archives and Depositories

About Archives and Depositories

Usually, dockets and court documents are kept at the courthouse for a few years after the case is closed. Eventually, however, they are transferred to archives- warehouses that store thousands or even millions of paper files.

Most Courts of Appeal and Supreme Courts also send copies of major court filings, such as briefs, to depositories- libraries that provide public access to court records and other government documents.

For a fee and with a sufficiently detailed citation, most archives and depositories will retrieve print dockets and court documents from storage and scan and send them to you.

Most archives and depositories also allow you (or a document delivery service hired by you) to visit in person and scan the files yourself for free. Usually, you will need to contact archives before visiting so that they can retrieve the files from storage.

Federal Court Records at Archives

Older federal court records are archived at National Archives (NARA) locations across the country. Usually, the best first step to obtain archived federal court records is to identify the NARA location that keeps records for the court where the case was heard and then email the archive with the case name and docket number to confirm that they have the case.

Most NARA locations will provide scans of court records for the greater of $90 (for a single case file up to 150 pages) or $.80 per page (for larger case files). 

NARA's website provides forms for purchasing archived court records but different NARA locations vary in how strictly they require you to fill out the form. Some locations are happy to send scans if you email them to provide the case name and docket number and call them to provide your credit card information. Other locations require you to complete and fax them the full form, including contacting the court that decided the case to obtain its transfer and box number.

Federal Court Records at Depositories

The U.S. Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit websites list depositories for their briefs:

Depositories of U.S. Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit briefs include:

California Court Records at Archives

California Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Records are archived at the California State Archives:

California trial court records are archived at the county level. Check the website for the relevant superior court for information on accessing archival records:

California Court Records at Depositories

The California Court of Appeals website lists depository libraries for California briefs:

Depositories include: