Court Documents Online
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Court Documents Online Court Documents Online Presentation Transcript

  • COURT DOCUMENTS ONLINE Mary M. McCormick FSU Law Library, Spring 2005
  • Federal Courts U.S Supreme Court Appellate Courts 12 circuits organized by region Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Trial Courts 94 Federal districts, including a bankruptcy court U.S. Court of Federal Claims Court of International Trade
  • Federal Courts – Some Statistics *
    • US Courts of Appeals
      • 56,534 cases filed in 2002 (+.8% over 2001)
      • 39,536 cases pending at the end of 2002 (-2.6% from 2001)
    • US District Courts – Civil Cases
      • 265,091 cases filed in 2002 (+4.2% over 2001)
      • 265,321 cases pending at the end of 2002 (+6.5% over 2001)
    • US District Courts – Criminal Cases
      • 63,515 cases filed in 2002 (+.1% over 2001)
      • 52,713 cases pending at the end of 2002 (+9.7% over 2001)
    • *http://www.uscourts.gov/library/statisticsalreports.html
  • Federal Court Documents: Why Do You Need Them?
    • Only 3.2% of federal civil cases make it to trial completion
    • Only 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)
  • Federal Court Documents: Why Do You Need Them?
    • Almost all federal and state trial court decisions, and 30-50% of all federal and state appellate court decisions are unreported
    • Documents filed by the parties with the courts can be very useful for many reasons
  • Docket Sheets v. Documents
    • Many courts now post docket sheets
    • Docket sheets are a chronological table of contents to a court file
    • Sample Docket Sheet
    • Fewer courts post documents filed with the Court
  • Docket Sheets
    • Answer the questions
      • Has my client been sued but not served?
      • Who else has sued the party my client wants to sue?
    • Serve as a current awareness tool
      • Who is suing who
      • Hot topics in litigation
  • Docket Sheets
    • Provide information about clients and potential clients
      • Is the client litigious?
      • Has the client filed for bankruptcy?
      • Has the client been involved in fraud?
      • Has the client filed a legal malpractice action?
      • Has the client been sued for attorney’s fees?
  • Docket Sheets
    • Provide information about potential hires
      • Routine background checks
        • Bankruptcy
        • Debt
        • Fraud
      • Conflicts between firm and prospective hire’s existing clients
  • Filed Documents
    • Fewer courts permit electronic access to documents filed with the court
    • Filed Documents can include
      • Sample pleadings
      • Missing pleadings
      • Background information on the types of cases heard by particular judges
      • Types of cases opposing counsel usually deals with
      • How judge typically rules on motion for summary judgment
  • Federal Courts Online
    • PACER: http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/ P ublic A ccess to C ourt E lectronic R ecords
    • Electronic public access service that allows users to obtain
      • case information
      • Docket information
      • Documents
    • From federal courts
      • Courts of Appeal (not all courts of appeal)
      • District and Bankruptcy courts
      • U.S. Party/Case Index (not all courts)
  • PACER Home Page
  •  
  • Florida Courts on Pacer
  • Federal Court Documents
    • U.S. Party/Case Index (on PACER)
      • National index for U.S. district, bankruptcy, and appellate courts
      • A small subset of information from each case is transferred each night to the U.S. Party/Case Index server located in San Antonio, Texas at the PACER Service Center
      • The system serves as a locator index for PACER
      • You may conduct nationwide searches to determine whether or not a party is involved in federal litigation.
  • PACER: U.S. Party-Case Index
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  • State Court Documents
    • Some state courts now load filed pleadings and other court documents, too.
    • Leon County Clerk of Court
      • Dockets
      • High-profile cases
      • Online interactive court forms
    • Other Florida courts
      • Docket information and high-profile cases only pursuant to Florida Supreme Court Administrative Order AOSC04-4
  • Florida Supreme Court Documents
    • Florida Supreme Court Briefs and Records Project
    • Florida law school consortium database of briefs and opinions
    • Maintained by FSU College of Law Library
  • Other Court Resources
    • Courtlink : (Lexis front-end to PACER, permitting better searching of the PACER databases)
    • Mealey’s : http://www.mealeys.com/ (Lexis publications in (mostly) litigation areas, with some court documents
    • CourtExpress : (front end for PACER and a document delivery service)
    • Legal Dockets Online
    • WestDocket
      • DOCK-FL-SDCT
      • DOCK-DCT-ALL
    • Westlaw Lawsuit Filings
      • LS-FL
      • LS-ALL
  • Why Use Commercial Services?
    • PACER searching is clunky; commercial services have enhanced searching capability
    • PACER doesn’t offer document delivery if the court doesn’t participate in Electronic Court Filing (ECF)
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  • Additional Resources
    • LLRX: ttp://www.llrx.com/courtrules /
    • Findlaw: http://www.findlaw.com/casecode/
    • Google: www.google.com (use party names or docket number)
  • Caselaw - Unreported
    • Unreported decisions are judicial opinions that have not been published in any official or near-official case reporter. They are also called "unpublished decisions," "unreported opinions" and "unpublished opinions.“
    • Federal unreported decisions may be found on Lexis and Westlaw.
    • Unreported decisions from state cases may be found in a local/regional legal newspaper or on Lexis or Westlaw.
    • Opinions can also be retrieved from the relevant court.
  • Caselaw – Where to Find It for Free
    • US Supreme Court:
    • Official Slip Opinions: http://www.supremecourtus.gov
    • Legal Information Institute: http://www.law.cornell.edu
    • LexisONE: http://www.lexisone.com/ (Click on “Find Cases for Free”)
    • US Circuit Courts:
    • Office of US Courts: http://www.uscourts.gov/links.html
    • Federal Courts Finder: http://law.emory.edu/caselaw/
    • US District Courts:
    • Office of US Courts: http://www.uscourts.gov/links.html
    • Legal Information Institute: http://www.law.cornell.edu/federal/districts.html
  • Caselaw – Using Legal Newspapers
    • Regional Legal News Sources:
      • American Lawyer Media publications:
      • http://www.lawcatalog.com/ (see Newspapers)
      • Lawyers Weekly publications:
      • http://www.lawyersweekly.com/
      • Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
      • http://www.lawbulletin.com
  • Need Answers?
    • Zimmerman’s Guide: http://www.lexisone.com/zimmermanguide/index.html
      • An online legal encyclopedia providing definitions, examples, explanations and useful links
    • The Virtual Chase How-To Guides: http://www.virtualchase.com/resources/how_to_guides.html
      • An annotated guide to sources of information on various types of legal research
      • Court documents guide: http://www.virtualchase.com/resources/dockets.html
    • Public Law Libraries: http://www.aallnet.org/sis/sccll/
      • AALL State, Court and County Libraries SIS
  • Need Answers?
    • LLRX: Court Rules, Forms, and Dockets
    • http://www.llrx.com/courtrules/