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Access to Court Records

I. Electronic Case Files

Cases and proceedings filed with the U.S.Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota in 1999 and thereafter are maintained electronically and are available through the internet-based Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service.

To access court records through PACER, one must first register for a PACER login and password (see www.pacer.psc.uscourts.gov). While there is no charge to register for PACER, there is a $.10 per page charge for access to court records. If, however, a user's access does not exceed $15.00 (150 pages) in a calendar quarter, PACER fees are waived, effectively making this service free for most users.

For PACER assistance:
(201) 301-6440 (San Antonio) or (800) 676-6856 (outside San Antonio)
 
Electronic court records may also be accessed without charge from the public terminals in the Clerk's Offices in DuluthMinneapolis and St. Paul. However, there is a $.50 per page charge for printing of any document. 
 
PRIVACY
 
On September 14, 2010, the Judicial Conference of the United States amended the policy on privacy and public access to electronic case files by restricting public access through PACER if documents in bankruptcy cases (including claims) that were filed before December 1, 2003, and that have been closed for more than one year. For these cases filed before December 1, 2003:
  • The docket sheet and docket information will remain available to the general public via PACER.
  • Documents that were previously unrestricted are now available only to court users, case participants, and anyone using the public terminals in the clerk's offices.
  • Copies of documents (except those under seal) can be obtained from the clerk's offices at a cost of $.50 per page.
  • Access to documents in bankruptcy appeals filed in the district courts, bankruptcy appellate panels, and courts of appeals for bankruptcy cases filed in the bankruptcy court prior to December 1, 2003 will be similarly restricted.

II. Paper Case Files

Cases filed before 1999 were created and maintained in paper format only.  Certain of these bankruptcy case files (e.g., cases filed in 1940 or earlier, cases filed under certain provisions of the Bankruptcy Acts of 1898 and 1978, cases filed under chapter 12 of the Congressional Act of 1986, cases designated by the court or the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) as historically significant and a small sample of cases randomly selected for preservation) are permanent records.  Generally, all other non-electronic bankruptcy case files are considered temporary records, and subject to destruction 15 years after case closing in accordance with NARA’s records disposition policy.

The clerk’s office can provide information on the status of a non-electronic case file and, if the file has not been destroyed, can determine its location.  Even if a case file has been destroyed, the clerk's offices can provide basic case information (e.g., case name, number, chapter, filing date, discharge date if applicable), a copy of the paper docket for the case, and may provide a Certificate regarding entry of discharge upon request.

If a file has not been destroyed, the file or copies of documents from it can be retrieved through the clerk's office for viewing and copying.  Record retrieval and copy fees must be paid prior to processing the retrieval or copy request.

Alternatively, the requestor can request copies directly from the National Archives and Records Administration Offices in Chicago or Kansas City.  In this case, the specific case and location information (transfer and box numbers) must be obtained from the clerk’s office BEFORE a request for record retrieval can be made. Request Request records online, or by mail, fax, or email from the National Archives and Records Administration website.

III.  Voice Case Information System (VCIS)

Basic case information is available through the Voice Case Information System (VCIS) using a touchtone phone.  VCIS, which is free and available 24 hours a day, allows callers to search cases using a name, case number, social security number or tax identification number.

Callers dialing VCIS can listen to bankruptcy case information, including debtors' names, case disposition, bankruptcy chapter, reported assets, case status, discharge date and more.  In addition, an interactive voice response system provides case information in Spanish. 

To access VCIS, dial 1-866-222-8029.  When prompted to "state the name of the court that you want to connect to," state "Minnesota."