A docket is a record of all the proceedings and filings in a case. In addition to providing helpful case information, a docket can be a useful first step to locate the court documents filed in a case.
Historically, court dockets and documents were mainly obtained by visiting the clerk of the court in person, and getting copies of records often involved fees. Since the adoption of electronic case management systems by courts, many dockets and court documents are now available electronically. However, not all are; some records are still only available in paper at the court, and some records may be sealed. The electronic availability of dockets and court documents varies by court and date. Generally, federal records are more readily available online than state records, and appellate records are more readily available online than trial records. It is important to note though that even for records available electronically, accessing them may still involve fees.
With that in mind, these resources are a good starting point, as they will direct you to records that are available electronically and provide contact information for clerks of courts to request records that are not available electronically.
You may also wish to consult our U.S. States Research Guides for more information about the electronic availability of dockets and court documents for a specific state court. For the U.S. Supreme Court, you may wish to consult our Supreme Court Research Guide.