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Case Law and Citators: Briefs, Dockets and Oral Arguments

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Court Documents beyond Case Opinions

There are times when the documents created during the course of a case can be useful. Therefore, the briefs, dockets and oral arguments are often kept as part of the record for a court case.  However, there are varying degrees of access for these documents depending on which court you are working with.

Briefs Online

Federal court briefs are generally the easiest court documents to access but there are still limitations.  The following are commercial and freely available resources providing access to briefs from the U.S. Supreme Court, other Federal Courts and State Courts.

See also LLRX Guide to Finding Briefs and Court Documents

Dockets and Oral Arguments Online

Court Dockets provide an index of all filings in a given case.  Most courts at all levels now have some type of online docket presence.  For state courts, the court's web site may be your best bet for docket information.  However, for the U.S. Supreme Court and Federal Courts, there are other options.

  • Westlaw, Lexis and Bloomberg Law all provide (limited) docket information.  
  • U.S. Supreme Court website (current and prior term)
  • United States Law Week, a publication from Bloomberg BNA, includes docket information, case opinions and news related to the activities of the U.S. Supreme Court. 
  • PACER is the case management system for the Federal Court system. Briefs, along with other case materials, dockets and calendars can be accessed using this fee-based system.  Coverage is generally limited to the early 2000-present.

As for oral arguments of cases, the U.S. Supreme Court is the only court with an online presence in this area.

  • U.S. Supreme Court website (2000-present with both audio and transcripts)
  • Oyez (IIT Chicago Kent College of Law; recordings and other documents; 1972-present)