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Finding Court Documents: PACER

A guide to the supreme courts of the US and NM and how the law library can help you interact with them


Students, please note that PACER is a pay-per-use service and download costs can mount quickly. Before using PACER, look for your documents using Lexis’s CourtLink.

If your use of PACER is for a law school purpose, consult with a reference librarian about using the library’s account. The librarian will check with the relevant faculty member to verify the purpose (for a case in Clinic, for research in a writing seminar, etc.) and will help you focus your search.


CM/ECF and PACER are the two components of the federal courts' online filing system:

  • CM/ECF  (Case Management/Electronic Case Files) allows litigants to electronically file and view federal court documents. Only litigants can use CM/ECF and they can only use it for cases they are litigating.
  • PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) allows anyone to to pay a fee and view documents filed using CM/ECF. Anyone can sign up for a PACER account, whether they are an attorney, law student, or member of the public. 

Although PACER offers tens of thousands of documents, it does not include the following:

  • State documents- PACER is a federal system only. Check the California Courts Find My Court and National Center for State Courts for information on similar state court systems.
  • Documents for certain federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Tax Courts.
  • Documents that were not filed on CM/ECF, usually because the document was filed before e-filing became widespread in the early 2000s or because the document was filed by someone who was not required to e-file (such as a self-represented litigant.)
  • Excerpts of the record- multivolume excerpts of lower court records filed in paper with the court as part of Court of Appeals cases.
  • Older documents that have been removed from PACER.
  • Documents that have been sealed to protect the privacy of the people involved.

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