The Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system is a service provided by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts to help attorneys and the public find federal court information. It allows users to search court records online and get access to federal court opinions, transcripts, and other documents. PACER is one of the most invaluable tools for lawyers, litigants, and even journalists who need to research or review federal court documents and case law. It’s also one of the tools that many pre-employment background check companies use to screen applicants.
What information can you retrieve using the PACER system?
Electronic access to case dockets can be found in the PACER system such as:
- Digital records of court hearings.
- A listing of all participants and parties including attorneys, trustees, and judges.
- Search court opinions via the Government Printing Office’s Federal Digital System. (Not available in some courts)
- Compilation of case-related information such as nature of suit, cause of action, and dollar demand.
- Copies of imaged documents. (Not available in some courts)
- A chronological list of case events lodged in the record.
- Case Locator (Not available in some courts)
- Claims Registry
- Different types of documents filed for certain cases.
- Daily listing of new cases in the bankruptcy court.
- Case status or judgments
- Appellate court opinions
How PACER works
Every court maintains its databases with case information. The PACER databases are maintained within each court. Each court is assigned a different URL or modem number to access the PACER system. For this reason, the format and content of the information vary slightly from court to court.
PACER provides the interface to each court’s computer system and funds the network that facilitates the courts’ websites. The PACER database is updated at the close of each business day. As a result, information typically won’t appear on the PACER system until the day after it’s entered into the system.
You can search PACER using the following:
- Court name (ex: U.S. District Court)
- Court docket number
- Case number
- Case name
- Location of the case (ex: District of Columbia)
- Judge’s name
- Case type
- Party names
- Attorney names
- Court Opinions
- Social Security Number
Tips to Help You with Your Search
- PACER is not case sensitive so you may use lower-case letters or capitals.
- The default is to search all courts, so to save time, select a particular region of the country if possible.
- You can enter the same beginning and end dates to search for one day.
- To perform a search, only one field can be entered. (SSN, party name, TIN, case number, or a party name with the last four digits of SSN)
- Select “Yes” or “No” to display results with or without the case title.
Remember, the search results you get from PACER are only as good as the information provided by the court. Hiring an employment screening company will help you get comprehensive background check results. Find pre-employment background check companies that can provide the best screening solutions, quickly and efficiently.