Do you want to retrieve federal dockets for free? You have an option—RECAP. It is an innovative—and free—alternative to the federal courts’ official online retrieval system, PACER. For each filed document you download on PACER, you are charged a fee. RECAP, however, makes some of those documents free. RECAP collects documents through its users. Any person accessing PACER with Firefox or Google Chrome can install a browser extension called RECAP. For each document the person purchases from PACER, RECAP will automatically copy it and send it to the RECAP database. The document is then available to the public to download for free.
Not surprisingly, the coverage is unpredictable because RECAP maintains only those documents that another user has downloaded with the RECAP browser extension. But it is still a good source to find briefs, motions, and pleadings that have been filed in federal district courts (and better than Justia). In addition, if you install RECAP on your browser and are on the PACER site, RECAP will notify you of any documents available for free from the RECAP database.
As shown below, you can search dockets by keywords, court, case name, and date, but you cannot search the full text of filed documents.
Before you search the RECAP database and benefit from other users, download the RECAP extension so that the dockets you purchase from PACER will be added to the RECAP database. Do not be a mooch and only take dockets from RECAP. Nobody likes a mooch.