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Features - Free and Fee Based Appellate Court Briefs Online

By Michael Whiteman, Published on September 18, 2005
This guide provides researchers with the ability to quickly find appellate court briefs. Part one lists sites where free copies can be obtained of federal and state appellate court briefs. Part two lists sites where briefs can be obtained for a price. If you need to find briefs that are not available online, or are too old to be online, please refer to the following publication for a listing of archives and libraries that have holdings of appellate court briefs. Peter Scott Campbell & Michael Whiteman, A Union List of Appellate Court Records and Briefs: Federal and State, (Littleton, Colo.: F.B. Rothman, 1999).

If you know of other sites (free or otherwise) that provide appellate court briefs online please e-mail the author (whiteman@nku.edu) so that he can do periodic updates to this guide.

Updated: September 17, 2006 - September 28, 2007 - January 13, 2009

Free Appellate Court Briefs by JurisdictionFree Appellate Court Briefs from Government Agencies, NGO’s and other organizationsFee Based Appellate Court Briefs Online

1. Free Appellate Court Briefs by Jurisdiction

United States Supreme Court

American Bar Association
The American Bar Association now is offering access to briefs from America’s highest court. The site archives briefs dating back to the 2003-2004 term and you can find them by case name or date argued. All briefs are in PDF.

FindLaw
Contains briefs from decided cases and those cases awaiting oral argument. Covers from the 1999/2000 Term to present.


Federal Circuit Courts

4th Circuit
Briefs are available from 2008 forward. Briefs are currently available via the 4th Circuits’ PACER system. (Note there is a charge for retrieving these briefs).

7th Circuit
Contains briefs under the heading “Case Information.” Briefs are available as far back as 1998, although more complete from 2000 onwards.

8th Circuit
Briefs are available from 2000 forward. Briefs are currently only available via the 8th Circuits’ PACER system. (Note there is a charge for retrieving these briefs).

9th Circuit
Briefs are available from 2008 forward. Briefs are currently available via the 9th Circuits’ PACER system. (Note there is a charge for retrieving these briefs).

10th Circuit
Briefs are available from 2008 forward. Briefs are currently available via the 10th Circuits’ PACER system. (Note there is a charge for retrieving these briefs).

11th Circuit
Briefs are available from 2008 forward. Briefs are currently available via the 11th Circuits’ PACER system. (Note there is a charge for retrieving these briefs).

State Appellate Courts

Connecticut
Beginning with May 2007 you will find somewhat spotty access to briefs from cases before the Connecticut Supreme Court.

Florida
Contains briefs from 1992 forward with some retrospective ongoing.

Idaho
Not actually online briefs but a database that allows you to look up a case and see if a library in Idaho has a copy of said brief.

Kentucky
Contains briefs from 2000 forward with some retrospective ongoing.

Massachusetts
Beginning with its September, 2007 sitting, briefs filed in most cases scheduled to be argued before the Supreme Judicial Court will be available on this website shortly before the sitting. Hyperlinks to the briefs may be found on the Case Docket pages, just above the Docket

Michigan
Contains briefs from the April 2002 through the present with synopses of case.

Minnesota
Beginning with 2002 issue statements from the briefs submitted to the court can be viewed. Beginning with 2005 select full text briefs can be viewed.

Mississippi
Begins with appellate briefs filed in October of 2007.

Missouri
The briefs are located with the docket sheet for the court. So you need to know on what day your case was scheduled to be argued before the court.

Montana
Contains briefs from June 2000 forward.

New York
Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division: Second Judicial Department
Briefs are available for appeals calendared between January 2004 and approximately 6 months prior to the present date.

North Carolina
Contains Briefs from 1999 forward. From the main page, under the link for Library click on Browse.

North Dakota
Contains briefs from 1999 forward under the heading “Briefs-Supreme Court.”

Ohio
“Contains briefs submitted to the Ohio Supreme Court. Coverage is spotty and begins in late 2006. To find briefs, pull up the docket sheet for the desired case.”

Oregon Supreme Court and Appellate Court Briefs - Demar Batchelor Law Library (Washington County, Oregon)
The Washington County Law Library maintains a bank of digital Oregon appellate court briefs (listed below). To find out if the briefs you are seeking are available in digital format, please email the Law Library at lawlibrary@co.washington.or.us, with your name and contact information and the case name, docket or case number/citation. If possible, please specify which party’s briefs you need.
138 Or App to present: selected briefs;
179 Or App and 201 - 204 Or App: complete volumes;
315 Or to present: selected briefs;
332 and 337, 338 Or: complete volumes;
All briefs for PERS, Measure 37, Li, and O’Donnell-Lamont cases.

Texas
Contains briefs dating back to 1999, although only a limited number of briefs are available from 1999 and 2000.

Virginia
Web site does not give full access to the records and briefs. The University of Richmond's Muse Law Library maintains a page where researchers can look up a Virginia Supreme Court Case by official reporter citation and amongst the information listed is a listing of any briefs associated with the case that is held by the law library.
Heinonline is now providing a limited (yet growing) number of Virginia briefs online to subscribers.

West Virginia
Supreme Court of Appeals
Briefs are available from January 2005 to the present. To find a brief click on the “argument docket” for the day your case was argued and the briefs are attached to the docket.

Wisconsin
Contains briefs from November 1992 forward.

Wyoming
Begins with 2008, look up the case by docket number in the free case management system. Briefs will be included with the docket sheet. The date of coverage is not exact, but it covers 2008 forward.

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2. Free Appellate Court Briefs from Government Agencies, NGO’s and other organizations.

American Bar Association Standing Committee on Amicus Curiae Briefs
The Brief Bank contains amicus briefs filed by the ABA since 1998.
Various sections and committees of the ABA place briefs on their individual websites.

American Civil Liberties Union
Contains Amicus briefs from 1996 forward.

American Intellectual Property Law Association
Contains Amicus briefs filed since 1995.

American Psychological Association
Contains summaries of Amicus briefs filed since 1962, full text of the briefs is available for some of the older briefs and for all the briefs from 2001 forward.

Anti-Defamation League
Contains the full text of Amicus briefs filed since 1948.

Appellate.net
Contains over 200 Merits briefs, Amicus briefs, and Petitions for a Writ of Certiorari filed by the law firm of Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP in the Supreme Court, Circuit Courts and various State Courts.

Atlantic Legal Foundation
Contains Amicus briefs, various dates.

BriefBank: http://briefbank.samuelsonclinic.org or http://fusion.sims.berkeley.edu/briefbank
BriefBank is a free, community-supported resource that collects and redistributes briefs in the area of law, technology, and public policy. BriefBank is housed at the School of Information Management and Systems and is administered by the Samuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinic at Boalt Hall School of Law, UC Berkeley.

Cato Institute
Contains Amicus briefs, various dates.

Constitutional Accountability Center
To access amicus briefs submitted by the CAC in both state and federal appellate courts click on the link for "Our Cases" and then "Legal Briefs".

Department of Justice
The briefs available on this site should include essentially all briefs, other than responses to petitions in IFP cases, filed by the Solicitor General with the Supreme Court July, 1998 to the present. There are also some older briefs available, as follows:
1993-1996: Selected merits briefs and responses
1986-1990: Selected merits briefs and responses
1982-1985: Selected merits briefs

Department of Justice-Americans With Disabilities Act Cases
Briefs arranged by ADA section.

Department of Justice-Antitrust Division-Appellate Section
Briefs filed in the Appellate Section available from 1993 forward.

Department of Justice-Civil Rights Division-Appellate Section
Contains all merits briefs filed since Sept. 1, 1999 by the Appellate Section and selected briefs filed prior to that date.

Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor
Briefs from 2001, listed by division within the Department of Labor.

Electronic Frontier Foundation
Contains briefs from cases in which it was involved. No general briefs page, to find a brief look for the case or topic you are interested in.

Electronic Privacy Information Center
Contains Amicus briefs and other legal documents, various dates.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Briefs which have been selected for inclusion on this web site, are those which have generally been filed in the United States Courts of Appeal, and which discuss significant legal issues which could affect the manner in which employment laws are interpreted.
For an index to the EEOC Brief Bank, please see: http://www.thememoryhole.org/eeoc/brief_bank_index.htm

Federal Labor Relations Authority
Contains briefs prepared and filed by the Office of the Solicitor in litigation involving the FLRA. From 1997 forward.

Federal Trade Commission
Selected Amicus Briefs in federal and state appellate courts from 1998 forward.

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
Contains briefs (Amicus and party originated) from 1995 forward.

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
Contains briefs from organization and others, various dates.

Public Citizen: Litigation Group
Contains briefs filed by the “Litigation Group” a public interest law firm begun by Ralph Nader. Briefs are included on topics including federal health and safety regulation, consumer litigation, open government, union democracy, separation of powers, and the First Amendment. Briefs date back into the 1990s.

Securities and Exchange Commission
Selected briefs in federal appellate courts from 1996 forward.

Securities Class Action Clearinghouse
The Securities Class Action Clearinghouse is based at Stanford Law School. The Clearinghouse provides detailed information relating to the prosecution, defense, and settlement of federal class action securities fraud litigation. The Clearinghouse maintains an Index of Filings of issuers that have been named in federal class action securities fraud lawsuits since passage of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The Clearinghouse also contains copies of more than 6000 complaints, briefs, filings, and other litigation-related materials filed in these cases.

Trial Lawyers for Public Justice
A large collection of briefs divided into six broad topics: Civil Justice System, Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Class Action Abuse Prevention Project, Consumer & Victims' Rights, Environmental Enforcement Project, and Mandatory Arbitration Abuse Prevention Project.

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3. Fee Based Appellate Court Briefs Online

Even if your jurisdiction does not offer free access to appellate briefs online, there are some commercial vendors that provide briefs online for a fee.

Briefserve.com
Provides access to a comprehensive collection of briefs and appendices for all United States Court of Appeals from 1981 to present, and the U.S. Supreme Court from 1984 to present. Not all Court of Appeals cases are immediately available, those that are not can be ordered and they will be scanned and sent to the subscriber in .pdf format. New York and California Appellate court briefs are now available online as well.
The cost is $25.00 per brief.

The Daubert Tracker BriefBank
The Daubert Tracker has amassed a collection of over 10,000 briefs and other supporting documents from both appellate and trial courts relating to “gatekeeping” challenges to expert witness testimony. The documents are all in searchable PDF format and date back to 1993 and the collection of documents is updated daily. The Brief Bank may be searched for free and you may view the first 10% of the document for which you may have an interest in purchasing. If you find a document you’d like to purchase, the
cost per document is $15.00 for non-subscribers and $7.50 for subscribers.

LegalCaseDocs.com offers a collection of briefs, and other court documents, from a variety of jurisdictions. It is not comprehensive but the costs are low (typically anywhere from $19.95 per document).

LexisNexis
Coverage begins in 1979. LexisNexis provides coverage for State briefs and motions from all states. The coverage varies widely from state to state as does the comprehensiveness of content.

Florida Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2004.

Lexis also has briefs from Brief Reporter from Aug. 1977 through September 2001.

Virtual Docket
Delaware Chancery Court – coverage begins in Oct. 1998.
Delaware Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2000.
Virtual Docket.com is not the official docket, and users should not rely exclusively on the information as if it were official. Virtual Docket.com is a service of Parcels, Inc.

Lexis

United States Supreme Court Briefs - coverage begins in 1979.

Westlaw

United States Supreme Court Briefs

Full text of merits briefs (petitioners', respondents', supplemental, and reply briefs) and amicus briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court for cases in which certiorari has been granted or probable jurisdiction has been noted and for which oral argument has been scheduled. Coverage of merits briefs begins with the 1990-91 Term. Coverage of amicus briefs begins with the 1995-96 Term. Selected coverage from 1870-1990.
Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the US Supreme Court - Selected coverage begins in 1990 for granted petitions and 1995 for denied petitions.

United States Court of Appeals Briefs

First Circuit – coverage begins in 1976.
Second Circuit – coverage begins in 1981.
Third Circuit - coverage begins in 1982.
Fourth Circuit – coverage begins in 1976.
Fifth Circuit – coverage begins in 1972.
Sixth Circuit – coverage begins in 1978.
Seventh Circuit – coverage begins in 1987.
Eighth Circuit – coverage begins in 1980.
Ninth Circuit – coverage begins in 1973.
Tenth Circuit – coverage begins in 2000.
Eleventh Circuit – coverage begins in 1980.
District of Columbia Circuit – coverage begins in 1976.
Federal Circuit – coverage begins in 1983.
Armed Forces – coverage begins in 1998

Specialized Federal Court Briefs

U.S. Tax Court – coverage begins in 1999.

State Court Briefs

Alabama Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2000.
Alaska Court of Appeals – coverage begins in 2002
Alaska Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2002.
Arizona Supreme Court – coverage begins in 1999.
Arkansas Court of Appeals – coverage begins in 2001.
Arkansas Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2002.
California Court of Appeals – coverage begins in 1996.
California Supreme Court – coverage begins in 1988.
Colorado Court of Appeals – coverage begins in 2000.
Colorado Supreme Court – coverage begins in 1990.
Connecticut Court of Appeals – coverage begins in 2002
Connecticut Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2002.
Delaware Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2004.
District of Columbia Court of Appeals – coverage begins in 2002
Florida Supreme Court – coverage begins in 1991.
Georgia Supreme Court – coverage begins in 1990.
Hawai'i Supreme Court Briefs – coverage begins in 1998
Idaho Supreme Court – coverage begins in 1990.
Illinois Court of Appeals, First District – coverage begins in 1990.
Illinois Supreme Court – coverage begins in 1990.
Indiana Court of Appeals – coverage begins in 1992.
Indiana Supreme Court – coverage begins in 1992.
Iowa Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2003.
Kansas Court of Appeals – coverage begins in 1994.
Kansas Supreme Court – coverage begins in 1994.
Kentucky Supreme Court – coverage begins in 1999.
Louisiana Court of Appeals – coverage begins in 2005.
Louisiana Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2000.
Maine Supreme Judicial Court – coverage begins in 2001
Maryland Court of Appeals – coverage begins in 1999.
Maryland Court of Special Appeals – coverage begins in 2000.
Massachusetts Court of Appeals – coverage begins in 1999.
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court – coverage begins in 2000.
Michigan Court of Appeals - coverage begins in 2000.
Michigan Supreme Court – coverage begins in 1995.
Minnesota Court of Appeals – coverage begins in 2001.
Minnesota Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2001.
Mississippi Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2000.
Missouri Court of Appeals – coverage begins in 2005.
Missouri Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2003.
Montana Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2000.
Nebraska Court of Appeals – coverage begins in 2005
Nebraska Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2003
Nebraska Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2003.
New Hampshire Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2005
New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division – coverage begins in 1999.
New Jersey Supreme Court – coverage begins in 1999
New Mexico Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2000.
New York Court of Appeals – coverage begins in 1992.
New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department – coverage begins in 1997.
North Carolina Court of Appeals – coverage begins in 1998.
North Carolina Supreme Court – coverage begins in 1999.
North Dakota Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2003.
Ohio Court of Appeals – coverage begins in 2004.
Ohio Supreme Court – coverage begins in 1990.
Oklahoma Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2007
Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court – coverage begins in 1997.
Pennsylvania Superior Court – coverage begins in 1994.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court – coverage begins in 1994.
Rhode Island Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2000.
South Carolina Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2007
South Dakota Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2003.
Supreme Judicial Court of Maine – coverage begins in 2001.
Tennessee Supreme Court – coverage begins in 1999.
Texas Court of Appeals – coverage begins in 1999.
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals – coverage begins in 1998.
Texas Supreme Court – coverage begins in 1997.
Utah Supreme Court – coverage begins in 1998.
Vermont Supreme Court – coverage begins in 1999.
Virginia Court of Appeals – coverage begins in 1999.
Virginia Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2003.
Washington Supreme Court – coverage begins with 2002.
West Virginia Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2004.
Wisconsin Court of Appeals – coverage begins in 2000.
Wisconsin Supreme Court – coverage begins in 1991.
Wyoming Supreme Court – coverage begins in 2004

Footnote

1 This material was originally published as Appendix B in: Michael Whiteman, Appellate Court Briefs on the Web: Electronic Dynamos or Legal Quagmire?, 97 Law Libr. J. 467 (2005)

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