For research related to litigation, you will often need to locate the docket for a particular case, as well as documents filed in the case (both for federal courts and state courts). If you are filing legal documents yourself, you will need to make sure that you look at applicable local rules, in addition to federal and state rules of procedure. Judges may also have rules regarding how different motions must be presented or how many days notice is required for a motion hearing.
Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) is the federal government's public access service for obtaining case and docket information online from federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts. You can search PACER to locate dockets, as well as the underlying pleadings and other filings in federal cases.
There is a charge for each docket and filing accessed via PACER, and the search interface is not user friendly. Law School users should instead use Bloomberg Law's "Litigation & Dockets" tool, as it is simple to use and also allows you to search some local and state dockets and a few foreign and international dockets, in addition to federal court dockets accessible via PACER. Bloomberg Law's docket search also allows you to access the underlying court filings.
Click "Docket Coverage" to see the jurisdictions and time periods where you can search dockets on Bloomberg Law.
When you are accessing an individual docket via Bloomberg Law, you will sometimes need to click the "Update Docket" link in the upper right corner of the screen to cause Bloomberg Law to go out to PACER to make sure the docket is as current as possible.
Lexis and Westlaw both have docket search functions, but they provide only limited access to the underlying filings.
Research Tip: Federal dockets tend to be much easier to find than state dockets, and even if you find the state docket, you might not be able to get the actual underlying filings. If the resources provided do not give you the information you need, then try the court's website or contacting the clerk's office.
Judge and court analytics can be helpful for evaluating your position and strategy.