Disappearing Cases on PACER (and how to find them)

September 11, 2014

In preparing to implement the “next generation of the judiciary’s Case Management / Electronic Case Files System”, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts recently eliminated access to closed cases from four U.S. Courts of Appeal and one U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Starting August 11, 2014 ,the following cases are no longer available on PACER:

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit (cases filed prior to Jan. 1, 2010);
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit (cases filed prior to Jan. 1, 2008);
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit (cases filed prior to Jan. 1, 2010);
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (cases filed prior to March 1, 2012); and
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California (cases closed prior to Feb. 1, 2001).

You are still able to access docket sheets for many of these cases through commercial databases like Bloomberg Law, Westlaw, and Lexis. However, if you need to access the documents filed in these cases, you will only be able to access the documents these commercial services had loaded into their systems prior to the August 11 removal from PACER. With a docket sheet (again, available using Bloomberg and competitors) you can get a sense of a case’s history, the documents filed, and when they were filed. But you will likely have to contact the above courts directly and wade through a process that can be time- and resource-consuming. The reference staff at the University of North Carolina’s law library produced a helpful guide for contacting these courts that will set you on the road to finding the documents you need.

For further information: 

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