Use of Dockets to Get the Snapshot of a Case

By Aamir Abdullah

Explaining the Features of a Docket Report Using the Thomson Reuters Enterprise Centre GmbH et al. v. ROSS Intelligence Inc. (C.A. No. 20-613-LPS) Case

A picture worth 1000 words.
A picture worth 1000 words.

There is an old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Unfortunately, the law is a battle of words. In so far that every aspect leading to a final judgment, decree, and the like are, for the most part, based on written documents. From the initial complaint to the final verdict, words are used to provide information of a case. Nary an image to be found.[1]

Thankfully, in some regards, there is a way to get a “snapshot” of the goings on in a legal battle. An image might be gleaned from examining a case’s docket report. Sure, the viewer will still be required to read what has happened, but it is much less reading compared to going over each individual filing.


1) It goes without saying that a docket report can still be dense. This is because each docket report lays out the transactions that have occurred in a trial. Therefore, an inquirer should be prepared to spend some time reading the text of each entry of a docket report to truly grasp the events that have transpired up to that point in time. Of course, to get the clearest image of what happens in any case, an inquirer should review all of the filings made.

2) Additionally, depending on the jurisdiction, a person should expect to pay for access to a case’s docket report. This charge may either be direct or indirect. A direct charge may take the form of a fee levied by a specific jurisdiction to retrieve and provide information of a given case.[2] An indirect charge may take the form of an inquirer paying for parking at a judicial building or law library, paying for gas to get to said location where the docket report may be attained, or even paying in the form of time spent to determine where to pull a docket report.[3]

3) Finally, the docket report will obviously not shed light on the granularity of a given case. To see the trees from the forest, as it were, an inquirer will need to view each and every filing made in a given case. Or, in the alternative, simply wait to read the final judgment from the judge.[4]

Docket Report Basics

When examining a Docket Report, one should note that there are three prominent sections. These sections are:

  • The title of the case,
  • Information concerning parties and attorneys in the case, and
  • The docket entries

Case Title

This section provides the date of filing, judge assigned to the case, and the jurisdiction. When looking at the docket report for the Thomson Reuters Enterprise Centre GmbH et al. v. ROSS Intelligence Inc. (“Westlaw v. ROSS”) case, one should easily be able to locate that information. Note that some docket reports, like the one used for Figure 1, provide more information, such as the “nature of suit,” the “cause,” and whether there was a jury demand.

West v. ROSS Case Title Section (Pulled from Bloomberg Law)
West v. ROSS Case Title Section (Pulled from Bloomberg Law)

Parties & Attorneys

This section provides information concerning the name of the plaintiff & defendant, as well as the names, addresses, & contact information for their respective attorneys of record. It should be noted that this section provides plenty of information to contact relevant attorneys to a case.[5] However, their specific role in the case is not so easily gleaned. For the Westlaw v. ROSS case, dozens of attorneys are listed based on who they represent – Thomas Reuters Enterprise Centre GmbH, West Publishing Corporation, or ROSS Intelligence Inc.[6]

Docket Entries

This section provides a clear picture of the various filings made in a case. Provided in this section are:

  1. The “entry number,”
  2. A filing date for each entry number, and
  3. A description of the document filed.

For the Westlaw v. ROSS case, as of July 24, 2021, there have been 59 entries. The last entry was filed on July 12, 2021. The document filed was a “Notice of Service.” Figure 2 provides an image of the docket entry.

59th Entry in Westlaw v. ROSS  case.
59th Entry in Westlaw v. ROSS  case.

As can be seen in Figure 2, the entries in a case’s docket report may still be filled with quite a bit of text. Thus, it can be assumed that a docket reports can become quite lengthy. Fortunately, it is significantly less text than the sum total of text within the documents filed with a court.

Word cloud pulled from the text of the docket entries in the Westlaw v. ROSS case.
Word cloud pulled from the text of the docket entries in the Westlaw v. ROSS case.


Other than images provided as evidence in a legal matter, lawyers duel with by written words.[7] When not participating in the battle of words, there is seemingly no quick way to get caught up with what has occurred in a case. Fortunately, docket reports provide wonderful snapshots. From the first entry to the final decree, the entries in a docket report can help paint a picture of the actions taken in a case.

Notes Between Us (NBU) is a blog about conversations and topics of interest to the writers. The writers are expressing their personal opinions solely. Their essays represent their personal beliefs and not that of their workplaces or any organization they are associated with.

[1] Note, images, pictures, and the like may be used as evidence; imagery playing a part but not providing real substance.

[2] Notoriously, PACER charges patrons to run a search to access information held within its system.

[3] Law libraries tend to have access to legal research tools that provide docket reports.

[4] Note, an interested party will still need to read something if s/he wants to know about a case.

[5] Do not contact an attorney working on a case if you are not part of the case, such an act can be viewed as rather annoying.

[6] Note, that attorneys can represent clients in a variety of ways, such as: by acting as both as attorney for the plaintiff and the counter-defendant. These are merely designatory titles, that simply provide a “role” the attorney is taking for a given matter.

[7] And, verbal words at hearings and trial.