Determining Federal/State Court Records
1.Determine whether you need to retrieve State/Federal court records. To determine if a court is a State/Federal court:
a.Look at the caption (i.e., name of the court on a pleading).
•If the court is Circuit or Superior Court, it’s a State court.
•If it is District court, it’s a Federal Court.
•Appellate courts may be State or Federal and will have the name of the state in the title of the court, New York Supreme Court, or New York Appellate Court, for example.
b.Look at the laws that the court deals in order to determine if they are State or Federal laws. Divorce laws for example are State laws and bankruptcy laws are Federal, so divorce cases are heard in State court and bankruptcy cases in Federal court.
•Check the list of federal courts provided by the United States Courts systems, to see if the court is listed as a federal court.
Federal Court Records
1.If you are retrieving Federal court records, visit Pacer. This can be found at http://www.pacer.gov/register.html. Pacer is the federal governments Public Access to Court Electronic Records (“PACER”) website.
2.Once on the website, you will need to set up an account. To do this:
•Choose your type of registration from the three listed options and click the appropriate link. Most users will not be filing their own electronic court pleadings and may choose the first account type, PACER – Case Search Only Registration. If you will be filing electronic documents, you should select the account type that will allow you to file with the appropriate court.
•Click the reddish brown “Register for a Pacer Account Now” button. Be sure that you have a few minutes to complete the registration before beginning.
•Fill out the registration form. Provide your name, address, phone number, and email address, then select your account type from the drop down list under Account Type Information. If you are unsure what type of account to choose, select “Individual” from the bottom of the list. If you want same day access to your account, fill in the credit/debit card section. Otherwise, you may leave this section blank.
3.Log in at https://pacer.login.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl. Access the court records you choose. Once you have set up your PACER account and received your login information, you may search for and retrieve electronic records for the Federal court system at a rate of $.10 per page.
State Court Records
1.If you will be retrieving state court records, check the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Electronic Access to Court Records report. This can be found as a PDF file at http://www.rcfp.org/rcfp/orders/docs/EACR.pdf. Once the file has downloaded, locate your state for specific information about how and where to access electronic court records in that state.
2.Visit the website listed in the Electronic Access to Court Records report and follow the instructions for retrieving Court records.
3.Check your State courts website for access to State Court records. You can find your state court by visiting the Internal Revenue Services State Government Websites list at http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/State-Links-1. Then simply follow the link for your state.
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