How to Look Up California Bankruptcy Cases

By JimJones

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Public Access to Court Electronic Records or PACER allows users to search for and access federal court cases including bankruptcy from California. The PACER system is managed by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. Registering to use the PACER system is free. The system does, however, charge a nominal fee to search for bankruptcy cases and view documents from those cases. Cases can also be found through paper court documents.


Go to the PACER service center home page. You can find a link to this website in the resources section of this article. Click on the "Register" tab on the toolbar at the top of the page and click the icon labeled "Register Now."

Enter the requested information including your credit card number. Check the box asking if you have read and understand the policies and procedures, and then press the icon labeled, "Submit Form." There is no charge to register for the service. However, a valid credit card is required to complete the registration process.

Open the email from PACER and follow its link to complete your registration. Enter the requested information to receive your username and password for the PACER system. It can take up to an hour after receiving your login information before you can access the PACER system.

Open the Pacer Service Center Homepage. Click the tab in the toolbar labeled "U.S. Party Case Index" and enter your login information. Click the "Bankruptcy" option located in the "Search" section. Select "California" from the "Region" tab.

Enter as much information as you can about the California bankruptcy case you want to find. You need to enter either the last name of a party to the bankruptcy case or the case number. You can also enter the first name of the party and a date range for the bankruptcy search.

Click the "Search" icon at the bottom of the window. The PACER system will search for all cases that match the criteria you specified and then list the cases that are applicable. Click on the "Case No." to access detailed information about the case. The PACER system will bill you 8 cents for every search or page of information that you receive through the PACER system.

Paper Records

Call the local courthouse that heard the bankruptcy case to obtain case information by telephone. Records from closed cases are no longer kept at the courthouse. You can get copies of documents from closed cases directly from the National Archives and Records Administration. The local courthouse can look up this information by party name or Social Security number.

Write down the following information about the case: the city where the court that heard the case is located, the case file name and number, the transfer number, the agency box number and the NARA location.

Complete form NATF 90 to obtain copies of files from the closed case from the National Archives. You can also call the National Archive Center in Riverside or San Francisco to request an appointment to come to the archive facility to view the files in person.

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