How to Search Texas State and Federal Court Dockets

, Texas Lawyer

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These larger counties offer free sites (without registration) with docket information: Fort Bend County; Collin County; Nueces County; Galveston County; Bexar County.

Sometimes the search feature at a court web site is well hidden (or new), so, if in doubt, call the clerk to verify.

Texas Judiciary Online.This state site has dockets and opinions for the Texas Supreme Court (also has audio and video of oral arguments), Court of Criminal Appeals and the intermediate appellate courts. Users can search by case name, attorney, case number and date. The CaseMail service lets users track a particular case.

Obtaining documents from courier services and courts. Westlaw Court Express, Bloomberg Law and LexisNexis all offer a courier-service option. They will go to the court and make copies of any dockets or pleadings not available online. They offer speedy service, but it is usually expensive.

A less expensive option is to contact the courts directly. If a court has no online search, a user usually must mail a written request and enclose a check for $5-$10. If pleadings are needed also, clerks can almost always make copies of documents (usually $1 per page).

However, turnaround can take weeks, and payment usually needs to be mailed in advance. Some clerks take credit cards over the phone. This option works if users are not in a hurry (does that ever happen?).

The court coverage is always in a state of flux, so these are the counties covered as of the date of this writing.

Searching this patchwork of dockets is never a simple process. That's why law librarians sigh deeply when asked about a comprehensive search in Texas courts. We look forward to the time when courts are required to accommodate efiling and more search capabilities are provided.

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