Docket (court)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A docket in the United States is the official summary of proceedings in a court of law.[1][2] In the United Kingdom in modern times it is an official document relating to delivery of something,[2] with similar meanings to these two elsewhere. In the late nineteenth century the term referred to a large folio book in which clerks recorded all filings and court proceedings for each case,[3] although use has been documented since 1485.[4][5]

Historical usage[edit]

The term originated in England; it was recorded in the form "doggette" in 1485, and later also as doket, dogget(t), docquett, docquet, and docket.[4] The derivation and original sense are obscure, although it has been suggested that it derives from the verb "to dock", in the sense of cutting short (e.g. the tail of a dog or horse);[4] a long document summarised has been docked, or docket using old spelling. It was long used in England for legal purposes (there was an official called the Clerk of the Dockets in the early nineteenth century), although discontinued in modern English legal usage.

Docket was described in The American and English Encyclopedia of Law as a courts summary, digest, or register. A usage note in this 1893 text warns that term docket and calendar are not synonymous.[6]

A 1910 law dictionary states the terms trial docket and calendar are synonymous.[7]

United States[edit]

In the United States, court dockets are considered to be public records, and many public records databases and directories include references to court dockets. Rules of civil procedure often state that the court clerk shall record certain information "on the docket" when a specific event occurs.[citation needed] The Federal Courts use the PACER (Public Access Court Electronic Records) system to house dockets and documents on all federal civil, criminal and bankruptcy cases, available to the public for a fee.[8]

The term is also sometimes used informally to refer to a court calendar, the schedule of the appearances, arguments and hearings scheduled for a court. It may also be used as a metonym to refer to a court's caseload as a whole. Thus, either sense may be intended (depending upon the context) in the frequent use of the phrase "crowded dockets" by legal journalists and commentators.[citation needed]

Supreme Court[edit]

In its meaning as calendar, the docket of the United States Supreme Court is different both in its composition and significance. The justices of the Supreme Court have almost complete discretion over the cases they choose to hear. From the large number of cases which it receives, only 70 to 100 will be placed on the docket. The Solicitor General decides which cases to present on behalf of the federal government.[9]

Court docket links[edit]


Supreme Court
Court of Appeals

Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) is a system for public access to court records, subject to payment.

Federal District Courts


  • Docket Alarm, Inc. provides a search engine and alerts for Federal Court dockets and bankruptcies, as well as providing programmatic access via an API.[10]
  • is a PACER alternative website that provides all queries including dockets for U.S. bankruptcy courts.[11]
  • is the oldest docket portal on the internet. In addition to linking to all PACER courts, it also links to all state court dockets.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sutton, John R. (1985). "The Juvenile Court and Social Welfare: Dynamics of Progressive Reform". Law & Society Review. 19 (1): 107–146. doi:10.2307/3053396. JSTOR 3053396.
  2. ^ a b "docket Meaning, definition in Cambridge English Dictionary".
  3. ^ Cockcroft, James; Garland, David Shephard; McGehee, Lucius Polk; et al., eds. (1896–1905). The American and English encyclopedia of law. Vol. 9 (2nd ed.). Edward Thompson company. OCLC 21556933.
  4. ^ a b c Oxford English Dictionary 2nd ed. Definition of "... brief, summarized statement ... abstract, abridgement, digest, minute" described as obsolete and historical. "A memorandum or register of legal judgements". "A list of causes for trial" given as U.S. usage
  5. ^ 1641 Les Termes de la Ley; or certaine difficult and obscure words and termes of the common lawes of this realme expounded: Docket is a little peece of paper or parchment written, that conteineth in it the effect of a greater writing.
  6. ^ Williams, Charles (1893). The American and English encyclopedia of law. Edward Thompson Company.
  7. ^ Black, Henry Campbell (1910). A LAW DICTIONARY CONTAINING DEFINITIONS OF THE TERMS AND PHRASES OF AMERICAN AND ENGLISH JURISPRUDENCE ANCIENT AND MODERN. West Publishing. p. 385. The name of docket or trial docket sometimes given to the list or calendar causes set to be tried at a specified term prepared by the clerks for the use of the court and bar
  8. ^ Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (2013-04-01). "Electronic Public Access Fee Schedule". Retrieved 2013-08-11.
  9. ^ Scardino, Franco (2009). The Complete Idiot's Guide to U.S. Government and Politics. Alpha. ISBN 978-1-59257-853-5.
  10. ^ "Checking The Court Docket Manually Is So Outdated: Docket Alarm API". ProgrammableWeb.
  11. ^ Stephanie Gleason (18 April 2012). "New Website Launches Bankruptcy-Focused PACER Alternative". WSJ.