General FAQs

  • How do I file a new suit in Federal Court?

    THIS INFORMATION IS PROVIDED MERELY AS A GUIDE, YOU SHOULD NOT RELY ON THIS INFORMATION ALONE. MOREOVER, ANY COMPLAINT MAY BE SUBJECT TO DISMISSAL ON A VARIETY OF GROUNDS.

    Generally, subject matter jurisdiction is based upon one or more of the following: (1) A civil action in which the United States, an agency, or department thereof is named as a defendant; (2) a civil action which arises under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States; or (3) when diversity of citizenship exists and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.00.

    A civil action is commenced by filing a complaint with the Court. The filing of initial papers in civil cases, such as Complaints, Notices of Removal, Notices of Appeal, and Petitions for Writ of Habeas Corpus can be filed electronically by making payment through Pay.gov. Cases subject to sealing or restricted access (e.g. qui tam or social security) and applications for any court order to show cause should not be filed electronically. Counsel should refer to Local Rule 65.1(b) when filing an Apllication for an Order to Show Cause.

    If not filed electronically, the filing of initial papers in civil cases should be accomplished by Paper Filing accompanied with a disk or CD ROM containing the signed document in PDF format. In a case removed to the federal, parties are requested to provide electronic copies of all documents previously filed in state court.

    A party who is not represented by counsel must file documents with the Clerk as a Paper Filing.Pro Se Litigants (a party representing himself or herself) should refer to the Procedural Guide for Pro Se Litigants. The Procedural Guide for Pro Se Litigants is available here in pdf format (it is a large file, you may want to right click and save file to view off of hard drive), or at all divisional offices, at no extra cost.

    Pursuant to Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the complaint should contain (1) a short plain statement of the basis of the court's jurisdiction, (2) a short plain statement of the claim, and (3) a demand for judgment for the relief sought. Rule 10 directs that the names of all of the parties are to be included in the title of the action.

    Your complaint must be legibly handwritten or typewritten on 8" x 11" paper. The complaint must be signed by an Attorney admitted to the Bar of this Court, or by the pro se plaintiff.

    In order for the complaint to be filed, it must be accompanied by the filing fee of [Click here for current fee ]. If your client, or the pro se litigant, is indigent and unable to pay the filing fee, you must petition the court to proceed in forma pauperis.

    Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as revised effective December 1, 1993, governs service of a complaint. If a summons is presented to the clerk and it is in proper form, it will be issued and the summons will be forwarded to you. You will be responsible for the prompt service of the summons and complaint upon the defendants in accordance with the procedures set forth in F.R.Civ.P. Rule 4. If you are given leave to proceed in forma pauperis, the United States Marshal may complete service upon the defendants. The United States Marshal may require you to give additional information for the completion of service upon the defendants.

    If the in forma pauperis petition is denied by the Court, you will be required to pay the filing fee in order for the complaint to be filed and your action to be commenced.

    A Civil Cover Sheet (JS44) needs to be completed and presented at the time the complaint is submitted to the clerk. Civil Cover Sheets are also available from all three offices and can be found on the courts website under "Forms"

  • How do I get a document verified for use in an action involving another country?

    For actions involving a member nation under the Hague Convention, an apostille can be issued. The purpose of the convention is to simplify the procedures by which official documents of one country are authenticated for use in another country.

    For authentication of documents in cases on file with this court, contact the district clerk's office in the division where the case originated, or where the case file is located.

    For authentication of birth, marriage, and death certificates signed by a city or local official, contact the State or Local Bureau of Vital Statistics.

  • How can I see sealed pleadings?

    A sealed pleading is only accessible by an Order of the Court. The attorney requesting to see the sealed pleading should also present some form of identification to the Clerk's Office before the pleading is made accessible.

  • How do I get a transcript?

    To request a transcript of a proceeding held before a District Judge you must contact the court reporter or the ESR operator directly. Please refer to the Directory of Official Court Reporters for contact information. For proceedings held by Magistrate Judges please refer to the Contacts for Requesting Transcripts/Magistrate-Judges. The court reporter may require a deposit for each transcript order.

  • Can I look up cases for the whole District of New Jersey in your division?

    Our computer records cover the entire district. Microfiche records for parties in cases opened between 1920 through May 1990 are available in each division for the entire district. From 1981 through May 1990 the microfiche are divided into case type (civil, criminal, Magistrate Cases, and miscellaneous). See Procedures for Search Requests.

  • How far back does a certificate of search go?

    Generally, searches go back ten years, unless otherwise requested. Search Request must be made in writing accompanied by a check for [Click here for current fee ]. See Procedures for Search Requests.

  • How far back do the case and party microfiche records go?

    Information on party names for case opened from 1920 to May 1990 are available only on microfiche in any divisional office.Computer records begin in May 1990.

  • How do I get a docket sheet, pleading, etc. from an archived case?

    The Trenton Office maintains the Civil Dockets from 1981, Criminal Dockets from 1970, Magistrate Case Dockets from 1954, and Miscellaneous Dockets from 1954. Any docket sheets prior to these years are maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration, which is located at 201 Varick Street, New York, New York 10014 (212-337-1300).

    You can view all docket entries from May 1990 to the present through thePublic Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER)service or on the public terminals in each divisional office. For information on how to subscribe to PACER, please go to http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov

    To obtain a pleading that has been archived at the Federal Records Center in Lee Summit, Missouri, the Clerk's Office will give you necessary information to contact the Federal Records Center (816-478-7079). Please see Federal Records Center information. You may make an appointment with the FRC to view a file or ask to have a pleading faxed or mailed to you. You may also have the Clerk's Office request the file for viewing for a fee of [Click here for current fee ].

  • What case records are available in your office?

    Each division has its own case files for all pending cases, as well as case files opened since January 1, 1999 and subsequently closed. The files may be viewed and/or copied in the appropriate office.

    To locate a case number or party name for cases filed since 1990 in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, you may search on a public terminal for pending or archived cases in any divisional office.

    Cases opened before May 1990 may only be searched through microfiche records by party name. Each division has a set of microfiche for the entire district for cases opened prior to May 1990. Cases filed between 1981 and May 1990 are categorized by the type of case (civil, criminal, Magistrate cases, and miscellaneous). You may have to search several sheets of microfiche if you know only the party's name but not the case type.

    If you need to view or copy an archived case file, the Clerk's Office will give you necessary information to contact the Federal Records Center (FRC) in Lee Summit, Missouri (816-478-7079). Please see Federal Records Center information. You may make an appointment with the FRC to view a file or ask to have a pleading faxed or mailed to you. You may also have the Clerk's Office request the file for viewing for a fee of [Click here for current fee ].

  • What are the procedures for Searching a name or case number?

    Each division has its own case files for all pending cases, as well as case files opened since January 1, 1999 and subsequently closed. The files may be viewed and/or copied in the appropriate office.

    To locate a case number or part name for cases filed since 1990 in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, you may search on a public terminal for pending or archived cases in any divisional office. You may also register for internet PACER access at http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov

    Cases opened before May 1990 may only be searched through microfiche records by party name. Each division has a set of microfiche for the entire district for cases opened prior to May 1990. Cases filed between 1981 and May 1990 are categorized by the type of case (civil, criminal, Magistrate cases, and miscellaneous). You may have to search several sheets of microfiche if you know only the party's name but not the case type.

    If you would like the Clerk's Office to perform a name search, please send a written request with a check or money order (made payable to 'Clerk, U.S. District Court') for [Click here for current fee ]. We will need to know the party's name. Any information about the case number, year or division where the case was filed, and/or the name of the Judge assigned to the case will be helpful. You may mail your request to any divisional office. Searches generally go back ten years, unless otherwise requested.

    If you need to view or copy a case file that has been archived, the Clerk's Office will give you necessary information to contact the Federal Records Center (FRC) in Lee Summit, Missouri (816-478-7079). Please see Federal Records Center information. You may make an appointment with the FRC to view a file or ask to have a pleading faxed or mailed to you. You may also have the Clerk's Office request the file for viewing for a fee of [Click here for current fee ].

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