Information available through PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records)
Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) is an electronic public access service that allows users to obtain case and docket information from the bankruptcy courts and the Case Locator (formerly the U.S. Party/Case Index).
PACER is a service of the United States Judiciary and is run by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. PACER uses the Internet to deliver its information.
The PACER System offers electronic access to case dockets to retrieve information such as:
- A listing of all parties and participants including judges, attorneys, and trustees.
- A compilation of case-related information such as cause of action, nature of suit, and dollar demand.
- A chronology of dates of case events entered in the case record.
- A claims registry.
- A listing of new cases each day in the bankruptcy court.
- Appellate court opinions.
- Judgments or case status.
- Types of documents filed for certain cases.
- Case Locator. (Formerly U.S. Party/Case Index—not available in some courts.)
- Imaged copies of documents. (Not available in some courts.)
- Search court opinions via the Government Printing Office’s Federal Digital System. (Not available in some courts.)
- Digital audio records of court hearings. (Not available in some courts.)
You will need the following to access PACER:
- A computer.
- Internet access.
- Login and password.
Registration and password
To obtain a login code and password, either call the PACER Billing Center for registration information, or register from its website at www.pacer.psc.uscourts.gov.
There is no registration fee.
How PACER works
Each court maintains its own databases with case information. Because PACER database systems are maintained within each court, each court has a different URL or modem number to access PACER. The format and content of information may differ slightly for each court. PACER integrates with the court’s CM/ECF system.
PACER provides the interface with each court’s computer system and funds the network that facilitates the courts’ websites. At the close of each business day, the PACER database is updated to reflect all data entered that day. As a result, information typically will not appear on the PACER system until the day after its entry in the system. Bankruptcy information is entered throughout the day and the system is “live.” Therefore, you receive up-to-the-minute information. Occasional technical difficulties may delay the updating of PACER information. If a major information update problem exists, a message to this effect will appear on the screen when you first access the system.
The Case Locator (formerly U.S. Party/Case Index) is a national index for U.S. district, bankruptcy, and appellate courts. Information from each case will be transferred to the Case Locator each night. 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. For detailed information on cases found while searching the U.S. Party/Case Index, you will need to dial into the PACER system for the particular jurisdiction where the case is located. The Case Locator has expanded the system’s search capabilities and results formats.
Except during the time required to update the database (usually 3 a.m. to 7 a.m.), PACER is available for use 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. To promote system availability and discourage any exclusive use of the system, PACER limits the length of each dial-in session. The length of the time limit varies and is determined by the individual court. You may obtain permission to redial the service if you need more time.
The system limits the time a user may sit idle during a dial-in session. The time limit varies and is determined by the individual court. PACER will warn you when the limit is approaching. Each individual court sets other limitations to the system. There are limits on the number of people or cases that can be accessed at one time.
There is a fee per page for using PACER. Some federal agencies or entities may be exempt from fees as determined by each individual court. For example, U.S. Trustees and non-profit organizations may be exempt from PACER charges.
There is also a per page charge for account or instructional documents. If you would like the PACER staff to obtain courts records for you, there is an additional per document fee.
Enter the appropriate URL in the location site of the browser. Most courts will be located at http://pacer.uscourts.gov. However, links are also available at the PACER Service Center home site at http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov in the “Links to PACER Web Sites.” Or, login at the PACER Welcome Page. Enter your assigned PACER login and password at the ID and password prompt. All logins and passwords must be entered in lower case letters. An optional 32 character text may be entered at the client code field for tracking charges.
Users of PACER on the Internet have the added convenience of a Universal Login feature. This feature allows a user to login at one PACER site on the Internet and move to other PACER sites without having to login again as long as the browser remains open. However, if the browser is closed, it will be necessary to login again. A cookie-enabled browser is required for the Universal Login to work.
Case number wildcarding
With PACER, the four parts of the case “number” (office, year, type, and number) are not needed; only the year and number are required. The system will access the case or cases that match the numbers entered. For example, to access case number “05-12345,” you can just type it into the system without the hyphen (0512345). If there is more than one case with that year/number (for example, with different office codes, or with different types), each will be listed for further identification.
If the electronic docket has been retrieved during an earlier session, when accessing the case list (selecting by person), review the “last update” date to see if there is any need for a new docket report. If not, it is not necessary to retrieve a new report.
This system can be used to learn more about other cases involving the same party. For example, if you are interested in XYZ Corporation, a search of the corporate name can be done to discover if anyone else is currently involved in a case with the same company.
Searching by name
The PACER system will search for a party in many ways. It is helpful, though, if the name is requested the same way that it was entered on the computer. However, since many different people enter information into the computer, there can be variations in how a name actually appears in the case. For example, the United States Air Force could be entered in several ways:
- United States Air Force.
- U.S. Air Force.
- Air Force.
It is possible to look up a case with PACER using any of the parties in the case. Common names are not a good choice to search because there may be many people with the same name. For example, if the name John Brown is used, the system will spend a minute or two searching, and eventually state that too many cases were selected. The solution is to use a more unique party. For example, if accessing a case of John Q. Watchburg vs. John Brown, do the search on the name “Watchburg” rather than John Brown.
PACER is not case sensitive. You may use capitals and/or lower-case letters.
This option will search the bankruptcy courts by a party name, full Social Security Number (SSN) or last four digits of the SSN with a party name, Tax Identification Number (TIN) or a case number, as well as other criteria. The search can be limited by state or region and by a date range. The following information will assist your search:
- If necessary, select a particular region of the country to limit the search. The default is to search all courts.
- Searches can be limited to a particular date range. To search one day, enter the same beginning and end dates. To search forward, enter a beginning date only.
- To search backward, enter an end date only. The default will search for cases without a date range.
- More specific searches can be performed by selecting a region and a date range. This may help reduce the number of search results.
- Either a party name, full social security number or last four digits only with a party name, TIN or a case number must be entered to perform a search. The search will not combine these fields, so only one of these fields can be entered.
- Select “Yes” or “No” to display results with or without case title. Click Search.
The search produces a list of cases (if any) that match the search criteria entered. The party name, court in which the case is located, case number, filing date, and chapter for each match are displayed. The court in which the case is located is abbreviated. For example, TXWBK is an abbreviation for the Texas Western Bankruptcy Court. The first two letters are the postal abbreviation of the state in which the case is filed with the next letter indicating the district within the state (C for central district, E for eastern district, M for middle district, N for northern district, S for southern district and W for western district). The Court Code List is available under the Reports option on the main menu.
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