Plain and simple: a docket is a timeline that shows you the history of a court case from cradle to grave. And sometimes beyond the grave, if you are dealing with zombie debt. Dockets are very useful tools for attorneys – and clients – to determine and develop strategy. Pro tip: if you meet with an attorney who has not looked at your docket or does not know how to use a docket, run. RUN. R. U. N.
Every time a client comes to me for help defending them in a lawsuit, my first plan of action is to pull the docket that correlates with my client’s case. How do you “pull” a docket? (It’s an archaic phrase for a relatively easy modern process, I know.) Three simple steps to pull a docket in Florida:
- Go to Google. (Or your search engine of choice.)
- Type in the county that you were sued in (it should say it at the top of your court paperwork) followed by clerk of court. Example: Broward Clerk of Court, Miami Dade Clerk of Court, Brevard Clerk of Court, etc. Click on the link to the official clerk website, and follow the directions to access Court Records. (All counties in Florida electronically file court documents; however, the process for obtaining a docket is different for each county).
- Fill in the information (usually your first and last name should be sufficient, unless you have a highly common name, then you may want to try different identifying information like case number (which is also on your court paperwork) or plaintiff’s name) and press the magic button (aka submit). And voila! You should see a link to your court case. Click and revel in the docket glory.
Pulling a docket is also a useful tool to determine whether you have actually been sued. Sometimes people are sued and they don’t even know it. Shocker, I know. But it happens more often than you think. Many times a person is not served with process or not properly served, and therefore that person has no clue that they were even sued. If you suspect that someone has sued you, check to see if there is a docket. If there is no docket, you weren’t sued. If there is, well, time to speak to an attorney. And if you were sued by a creditor, you can speak with an attorney like me!
Sidenote: I love dealing with consumer cases. They are like really awesomely awesome jigsaw puzzles just waiting to be solved. Bring me your toughest student loan or credit card or garnishment or judgment questions – I would love the opportunity to try and solve the puzzle! And my family would appreciate it too, because I would be too busy to nag them to clean up.
But, I digress. The moral of this story is CHECK THE DOCKET. Use it. Love it. Understand it. Or find an attorney that does. Like me. (Shameless plug).
Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor does this article purport to give legal advice. Everyone’s situation is different. If you have legal questions, you should contact a licensed attorney. Written by Shera E. Anderson, Esq. in Sunrise, Florida.