bankruptcy court records

Introduction

When people or companies file for bankruptcy, they do so in a federal bankruptcy court.

Bankruptcies are governed by federal law. There are no state bankruptcy courts.

There usually are a number of federal bankruptcy courts in larger states, each responsible for a particular geographic area.

For a list of bankruptcy courts by state, check the FindLaw site.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, there is the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California, which has branch courts in Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Rosa.

People and companies usually file for bankruptcy in the bankruptcy court that covers the area where they reside or are headquartered.

Each federal bankruptcy court has an alphabetical index on a computer terminal that lists the names of people and businesses that have filed for bankruptcy, the dates of the filings and the case numbers.

To look at the bankruptcy court file, copy down the case number in the index and present it to a clerk, who usually will ask you to fill out an order form.

Very few bankruptcy courts provide indexes to their cases or any of their court filings online.

Instead the federal courts use a proprietary electronic filing system called PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) for court cases, including bankruptcy. You have to set up an account and pay fees to access documents via PACER.

For information on PACER, go to the PACER Service Center website.

Filed under: Public Records