When an individual is searching for court records, it is important that he/she understand that State, local, and Federal courts usually maintain their records in separate locations. Each court is responsible for creating and organizing files about each case that occurs. Therefore, if an individual is looking for Federal Court records, he/she must search in Federal databases.
It is also essential to note that, prior to 1999, court proceedings were recorded by hand on paper court dockets. These files only exist in paper format. Therefore, if an individual is seeking Federal court records for a case that occurred before 1999, he/she may experience additional complications locating these files. Usually, papers files are stored in Federal Records Centers or within the courthouse in which the proceedings occurred.
If a court proceeding occurred following the year 1999, an individual will likely be able to locate the associated Federal court records in an online database. The United States Federal Government maintains a database known as the Public Access to Court Electronic Records, which provides the public with the ability to easily access Federal court records.
By employing the Case Locator service, an individual can obtain Federal court records regarding bankruptcy, district, and appellate courts. Not all Federal court records are kept permanently. Some records are destroyed following a specified duration of time. Therefore, an individual may not be able to locate older court records.
There is a fee associated with using the PACER database. To view these records online using PACER, an individual will be required to pay 8 cents for each page accessed.