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Researching Court Cases

Recent and Current Cases

The District utilizes a Case Management and Electronic Case Filing ("CM/ECF") system that was developed by the Judiciary. For attorneys, it is an electronic intake counter and service agent. For the public, it facilitates research of court records via PACER. It is important to become familiar with both systems if you want to interact effectively with the courts.

CM/ECF and PACER each require the creation of an account to use the service. If you are representing yourself in court, you may apply to become a Registered User of CM/ECF for the purpose of accessing the records and filings in your case. Any member of the public may sign up for a PACER account at any time by visiting the PACER Registration page. Electronic access to the Court's written opinions is free of charge.  A written opinion is defined by the Judicial Conference of the United States as "any document issued by a judge or judges of the court, sitting in that capacity, that sets forth a reasoned explanation for a court's decision." When you access a case record, you may select a "Written Opinions Report" under the Reports menu to identify written opinions in that case. Pleadings, motions, and other documents may be accessed for a fee: retrieval of such information is charged at $0.08 (eight cents) per page. However, no charge is owed until a PACER user accumulates $10 or more of fees in a given calendar year. A full breakdown of the District's Electronic Public Access Fee Schedule is available.

PACER recently introduced a new party and case search tool, the PACER Case Locator. Users need to have registered with PACER in order to use the Case Locator. You can learn more about the Case Locator by visiting: http://pcl.uscourts.gov.

For individuals interested in learning more about researching using PACER, the PACER User Manual is an excellent place to start. The District of Oregon has no formal position on the use of the RECAP extension for Firefox.

Older Cases (earlier than 2000)

E-filing of cases began in 1997, but many cases pending during 1997 and 2000 were not necessarily managed electronically. The District maintains paper records for active cases where appropriate, and sends records from closed cases to the National Archive on a regular basis. The older the case, the more likely it is that you will have to search the Archive to retrieve copies of documents in that case. There are fees associated with archive research - click here to view the current fee schedule for record retrieval, duplication and delivery.