Skip to Main Content
GW Law Library
Research Guides

Court Dockets, Records, & Rules

About Court Dockets and Records

A docket is a "formal record in which a judge or court clerk briefly notes all the proceedings and filings in a court case." (From Black's Law Dictionary, 11th ed. 2019.) After a case is filed, the court assigns it a docket number, which is the court's case number or tracking number. The docket lists the judge, parties, and the attorneys of record, along with a summary of each document filed in the case, the date when it was filed, and the court case number assigned to the document.

A docket number may be composed of a number or letter indicating the court, a two-digit number to identify the year, the case type (either CV/cv for civil cases or CR/cr for criminal cases), a four- or five-digit case number, and the judge’s initials. For example, 1:21-cv-5678-MW is the docket number for the 5,678th civil case filed in the year 2021 and assigned to court number 1 and the Honorable Martha Washington.

Court records may include the case file containing the docket sheet and all documents filed in the case, as well as other documents generated during the proceedings, including, for example, trial transcripts and instructions to juries. The online availability of court dockets and records depends on the jurisdiction. Some have free online docket systems; others require a subscription to their docket system.

Note: to obtain Bloomberg Law, Lexis, or Westlaw credentials, send an email request to and include your full name, @law email address, GWID, graduation year, and service(s) for which you are requesting an account.

Federal Courts

Subscription & Fee-Based Sources:


Free Sources:


Historical Court Records:

State Courts

Subscription & Fee-Based Sources:

State Court Docket Systems and Sites:

Specialized Docket Services