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Dockets, Court Filings & Briefs : Basics

Dockets

A docket shows all the materials filed in a court case in chronological order.  If a case is currently in litigation, the docket sheet shows the progress of the case.  If a case is closed, the docket serves as a table of contents listing all the pleadings and filings. Some individual courts have access to dockets online, but availability varies.  If there is no public access to dockets online or if the docket is for a historical case you may have to look in a databases or call the specific court. It helps to know party names and docket numbers before calling or searching. 

Briefs

Whether you are looking at the briefs to see an example of organization and formatting or whether you are looking to see the parties' specific argument and legal reasoning sometimes you will find yourself wondering where you can find the appellate briefs filed in case.  Some are readily available online for free, others are available via PACER for a fee, while others are only accessible from the court the brief was filed in and copying costs may apply. 

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