Since there are few if any identifiers found by searching the online content available of a federal court case, it is often necessary to view or obtain the physical case files. Most closed federal bankruptcy, civil, criminal, and court of appeals case files are physically stored at one of the 14 Federal Record Center locations of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
Until recently most of the NARA locations provide a research room where the public may view case files onsite, often by appointment. However, over the past several year seven NARA locations in Atlanta, Boston, Dayton, Denver, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Washington have closed their research rooms to the public to view court documents.
Effective October 1, 2011 six more NARA locations in Chicago, Fort Worth, Lee’s Summit, Lenexa, Riverside and San Bruno will not permit the public to physically view the files. The only NARA office still permitting onsite record access is the Anchorage Alaska office.
Since case files may no longer be viewed, copies must be purchased. The fee for a “copy package” of preselected documents or of the docket sheet is $35.00. The entire case file is $90. Add $15.00 for certification.
All of the NARA Federal Record Centers participate in an online ordering system for record access. Most of the Centers also accept requests by mail, fax, telephone or email.