Sabrina I. Pacifici is the Editor, Publisher and Web Manager of LLRX.com. Jeff Bosh is the Associate Librarian at Sidley & Austin in Washington, D.C.
CourtEXPRESS.com has significantly enhanced their web site since we wrote our article on the service last July (//www.llrx.com/features/courtexpress.htm). They have added new courts, more powerful search features, and are scheduled to add web-enabled retrieval of pleadings, memoranda and opinions from selected courts. These new features have furthered CourtEXPRESS.com’s goal to be a single interface for document retrieval and delivery directly to the legal professional’s PC.
Recently, CourtEXPRESS.com added docketing search capability from the Supreme Court. The user needs to know the docket number of the case to be retrieved. The cost is $5 per search for those with accounts, or $10 per search for credit card users. Additionally, CourtEXPRESS.com has added coverage of the United States Court of Federal Claims to their service. As for state courts, CourtEXPRESS.com’s coverage includes Connecticut and Los Angeles County Superior Court (see Image 1). While lacking in scope in comparison to Courtlink/Casestream’s state focus, coverage of the LA Superior Court is beneficial to a California practitioner.
CourtEXPRESS.com has also added a search feature allowing for subject specific search queries to retrieve docketing information in a particular area of expertise. Used as a current awareness tool, this service allows the user to monitor on a daily, weekly or monthly basis all cases filed in federal courts by Nature of Suit listings. Recurring searches can also look for specific litigants and attorneys facilitating a method by which attorneys can see what is happening with potential clients and opposing counsel.
Image 1: Los Angeles County Superior Court docket Sheet
Image 2: Order Track Notes section
CourtEXPRESS.com has also added an “Order-Track” system to their service that enables users to monitor the status of the documents they have requested (see Image 2). Information provided includes where the retrieval process stands at any particular moment, which employee at CourtEXPRESS.com is responsible for the work, their phone number and their e-mail address. This eliminates the need to place telephone calls to determine the status of your document retrieval request.
Later this summer, CourtEXPRESS.com will release a service enabling users to pull dockets from selected Federal District and Bankruptcy Courts and allowing selection and downloading of the requisite pleadings and memoranda. This revolutionary step in document retrieval completes the process of pulling court filings from the distant courts directly to the desktop. CourtEXPRESS.com interfaces with the Pacer system to allow retrieval of scanned documents directly from the court. The court documents are in a .TIF format and CourtEXPRESS.com converts these documents to .PDF, a more universal format for end users.
The current list of courts that carry document imaging and are available through CourtEXPRESS.com are:
District Courts: FL Southern NC Western TX Northern
Bankruptcy Courts: Connecticut Delaware Texas Eastern Virginia Eastern West Virginia Northern
In the near future, the following courts will become available.
District Courts: ID MO Western NY Eastern NY Southern NC Western OH Northern OR SD TX Northern UT WA Western
Bankruptcy Courts: CA Eastern CA Southern FL Southern GA Northern IA Northern ID IL Northern LA Western MA MN NC Eastern
Bankruptcy Courts: NC Middle NC Western NV NY Southern RI SC SD UT WA Eastern WY
Some of these courts have full case documents, others just opinions. In addition, some of these systems are new and not completely public yet. At times, these systems are unavailable.
As an example, we ran a Nature of Suit search for all environmental cases (893) filed in the Southern District of Florida in the year 2000. The result was four cases, and we chose to pull Friends of the Everglades v. U.S. – EPA, et al. (1:00cv00935). We were provided with a list of all docket entries for this matter (thirteen in total), and were also provided with a price quote for each individual item (see Image 3). The cost is based on page count, at a rate of .25 cents per page. The complaint was 79 pages and the cost of retrieving the document was $19.75. We retrieved the document in Adobe Acrobat and had the choice of saving it to disk, printing it out on the laser printer, or e-mailing it to any individual or party. For a little less than $30 dollars, we were able to obtain a complaint from Florida in a little less than 15 minutes (see Image 4). A document retrieval company would have probably charged us around $130 to go to the court, pull the item, photocopy it and then express mail it. And this process would take 2 days to obtain the document.
While there are many ways to obtain docketing, court filings, pleadings, memoranda and opinions, CourtEXPRESS.com offers a single, web-enabled platform for interfacing with this information. You can use Pacer to access this information, work with software to interface with .TIF formats, but why bother. CourtEXPRESS.com is about to put in place a system that takes this administrative aspect of the process out of the end user’s hands, freeing them to more efficiently obtain the information they need using a single source web-enabled service.
Image 3: Docket sheet
Image 4: Cover page of downloaded complaint