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Dockets, Court Documents, Transcripts, and Recordings

About Dockets and Court Documents

A docket is a list of all of the court documents filed in a specific case in a specific court. A case will have at least one docket for each court where it is litigated. For example, a case that is filed in LA Superior Court, transferred to Central District of California trial court, and then appealed to the Ninth Circuit would have an LA Superior Court docket, a Central District of California docket, and a Ninth Circuit docket, each listing the documents filed in that court. 

Common court documents include complaints, answers, motions, petitions, and briefs. More rarely, courts will also make transcripts or recordings of trials and oral arguments.

To learn more about dockets, see the pages under Understanding Dockets:

Finding Dockets and Court Documents

To find dockets and court documents, start by checking the standard legal databases you already use:

Many state court documents and documents prior to the 1980s aren't available on Bloomberg, Lexis, or Westlaw. Try these resources for additional options:

If you can't find what you're looking for in library databases and free resources, it's time to go to the source:

Finally, it's important to realize that some court documents will never be possible to obtain, no matter how many databases you search. In particular:

  • Parties may successfully petition to seal court documents, preventing anyone outside of the case from viewing them.
  • Older documents may be destroyed, damaged, or simply lost.

Finding Transcripts and Recordings

For transcripts and recordings of trials and oral argument, you'll need to use some special resources: