Forum Rules (Everyone Must Read!!!) (updated: 04/28/2015)

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Finding similar cases on pacer

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  • Finding similar cases on pacer

    My case has several rare-ish characteristics and I'm wondering if there's any way to try and locate similar cases.

    It seems strange that there isn't a way to search the content of filings or at the very least the text description on the docket report. Even just filtering for only joint asset cases would be good step, info that's in the main case overview.

    Am I correct in assuming there's no way to do that sort of thing without expensive commercial tools?
    Filed Chapter 7, January 2013. 341 Meeting, March 2013.
    Discharged as Asset Case w/ Stipulation, May 2013. Closed, May 2014.
    South Florida foreclosure: last payment, October 2012. Lis pendens, November 2013.

  • #2

    Have you posted about your rareness in these forums?

    If you are, and are not seeing the answers you hope to see, it is probably because, A. Nobody really knows (a rare case); B. All cases are different, and though one case might offer hints to how your case might fall, nobody can be sure; or C. The answers are here but they are not what you want to hear.

    Searching PACER, even if it were possible, would likely not give you the answers (guarantee?) that you hope to find. However, I suggest that a good BK Attorney in your area would be able to point to the likely outcome, even if that likely outcome is "I don't know." That is why the call it "practicing law" - there are no real guarantees.


    • #3
      Thought so, but figured I'd make sure.

      I prefer to think of my lawyer as a novel editor and me as pro se. It's the same reason I do all my taxes myself. But I recognize the importance of not filing pro se in my case.

      It also comes down to turn around time with lawyer Q&A, so I try to research things on my own and make note of the q for my next email or discussion with the lawyer to verify what I found.

      An example of where pacer made me feel better is with the asset list. Many threads in here recommend keeping it generic, against the notes of the Trustee guide and the directions themselves really. But then seeing that in action on successfully discharged and closed cases with somewhat similar assets helps reassure me.
      Filed Chapter 7, January 2013. 341 Meeting, March 2013.
      Discharged as Asset Case w/ Stipulation, May 2013. Closed, May 2014.
      South Florida foreclosure: last payment, October 2012. Lis pendens, November 2013.


      • #4
        To answer your original question, no, PACER is entirely useless as a research tool.

        On a side note, someone has trust issues I am curious, if your lawyer tells you something different than what "you found", which one do you trust. Let me ask you this: do you do this process with other professional services, i.e. do you research the electrical code before calling an electrician? It just seems like a colossal waste of time. I am not saying don't do any learning, but there is a difference between "getting context" and "researching." For example, learning what bankruptcy is, how it might help and getting an overview of the different chapters is helpful, gives you context. But once you go to the point of looking up specific bankruptcy code sections, trying to find case law, thinking it might be helpful to research PACER, now you are defeating the purpose of hiring a professional and truly wasting your time. What if you devoted that time to making more money, to your family, to exercise; your life would be much better off.

        Time is a finite resources, you can't make more of it, and once its gone, you can't get it back. The reason you hire a professional is to SAVE you the time of learning the topic and doing it yourself, so you can spend your time in other beneficial ways. Many debtors seem to forget that (or never really understood it) when they go down the bankruptcy path.

        Just providing some perspective. Also, keep in mind, you hired your attorney to DO your bankruptcy, I doubt you paid him or her enough to educate you on the finer points of bankruptcy.
        Last edited by HHM; 01-28-2013, 10:56 AM.


        • #5
          I could be mistaken, but you must know the case number of the case you are interested in researching on PACER. There is no other way to get where you want to go therein. There are probably privileged accounts held by judges, attorneys, and law enforcement officials who actually need access to many records, but the general public can only view one record at a time.


          • #6
            Originally posted by kornellred View Post
            I could be mistaken, but you must know the case number of the case you are interested in researching on PACER. There is no other way to get where you want to go therein. There are probably privileged accounts held by judges, attorneys, and law enforcement officials who actually need access to many records, but the general public can only view one record at a time.
            Sort of, but not in the way I think the OP intended. In any event, with the public access and what attorneys have available, what you see is what you get. With higher admin access you can filter on more variables, i.e. you could filter all cases in July where a 506 motion was filed. PACER, like any database, can provide "event" level research so long as the event is captured as a separate variable, but it cannot provide "content" level research. For example, a PACER admin could filter and find all Motion for Relief from stay filed within in a certain time frame and within certain BK chapters, but they would get the MFRS on both houses and cars, so you would need to manually sort for MFRS on houses. But if you were looking to find "Motion for relief granted because of "x" reason", PACER can't do that.


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