How to Search for a Docket Number

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The U.S. court system generates vast amounts of paperwork. Navigating the vast quantity of documents stored within a court's often perplexing bureaucracy can be frustrating. Courts assign docket numbers to individual cases as a means of keeping records and tracking a case's status. A docket number consists of letters, numbers, or both. Individual jurisdictions assign their own docket numbers and use their own nomenclature; the Supreme Court, for example, uses two pairs of double digits separated by a hyphen.

List all the information about a case you know, including name of plaintiff, name of defendant, other parties involved, hearing dates and case types. You need to know the jurisdiction where the case is being adjudicated.

Consult the website of that jurisdiction's court system. Many jurisdictions have searchable, online forms that generate records showing docket numbers. For example, inputting "New London" into the Supreme Court's docket search produces the corresponding docket number for City of New London v. Connecticut: 04-108.

Inquire with the courthouse clerk, who oversees courthouse record-keeping and administrative matters. Present information (name, date, etc.) about the case and ask the clerk to perform a search for the docket number.

Contact an attorney involved in a particular case. If it is your attorney, or one for a case in which you have a legitimate, vested interest, the attorney will likely supply you with the information. Attorneys aren't obligated to answer questions.

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About the Author

David Ferris started writing professionally in 2006 and has been published in several newspapers. He has worked in a variety of fields including education and law. He strives to one day be an authority on all subjects, great and small. Ferris has a Bachelor of Arts in political science.

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