Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Searching For Maryland Court Documents

As most of us are now aware, searching for Maryland dockets is readily available through the Maryland Judiciary Case Search. However, what if you are searching for the actual documents (as opposed to simply the docket text) filed in a Maryland case (eg., complaints, motions, etc)? Is there a resource that provides that? The good news is that there are a couple of options available for this research; the bad news is that you'll have to pay for it. Lexis and Westlaw both have databases of MD trial court filings. In Westlaw, the database is Maryland Trial Court Filings (MD-FILING) and in Lexis the database is Maryland State Pleadings (MDPLDG). (You can also use Courtlink by selecting "Maryland Circuit Courts" in the Document Text Search option). Keep in mind that Westlaw sometimes attaches case documents to the docket sheet. For Maryland federal cases, in Westlaw use the Maryland State and Federal Trial Court Filings (MD-FILING-ALL) database and in Courtlink select "Maryland" and "US District Courts" in the Document Text Search option. Although full-text federal court documents are available through Pacer, Pacer does not allow you to search these documents. Outside of Lexis and Westlaw, you'll most likely have to call the court. Lexis and Westlaw also both offer Maryland briefs databases.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Searching Maryland State & Federal Cases-For Free

If you're looking to search 4th Circuit and Maryland State cases, consider using The Public Library of Law, or PLOL. Although Findlaw has offered the ability to search 4th Circuit cases both by party-name (select "4th Circuit" from the drop down menu) and by full-text for some time, the search functionality in Findlaw is limited and difficult to use. Using PLOL, you can search 4th Circuit cases back to 1950 and Maryland state appeals cases back to 1997. Simply click on the "Advanced Search" link and then select your court from the drop down menu. PLOL ranks your search results by relevance and bolds your search terms in the results list--making it easier to find your case on point. To view the full text of the case, you must register with the site, but registration is free. Note that Maryland Federal district courts are currently not available on PLOL.