How Do I Read a Docket Number?

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Docket numbers are used in the court system. They are a way of labeling and organizing individual cases. Each case is identified with a letter followed by a series of numbers. The entire docket number will tell the reader the year, month, regulations and type of case. It will also tell whether or not the case is closed. Reading a docket number is fairly simple and doesn't require much legal knowledge.

Read the first letter of the docket number. This letter determines the year of the case. The letters run A to Z and represent from 26 years ago to the current year. For example, if the current year is 2011 and the case takes place in 2011, the first letter will be a "Z".

Look at the second letter of the docket number. This number represents the year in which the case took place. The numbers run from A to L and represent January through December.

Look at the first number of the docket number. This represents the room in the courthouse where the case is taking place. This number and room name will vary depending on the particular courthouse and county.

Observe the next number in the docket number. This represents the regulations of the case. This number and its relation to the type of case will depend on the courthouse and county. An example of a regulation in relation to real estate cases could include rent stabilization.

Read the next four numbers in the docket number. These numbers are put in a sequential order specific to the case to allow for each number to differentiate from other cases that may have taken place in the same month, be the same type and have the same regulations. Without these four numbers, there could be sequential repeat docket numbers.

Read the last two letters of the docket number. These letters refers to the type of case. Examples of case types are criminal, family and small claims among others. Types can also be more specific within a type, such as landlord-tenant cases under a real estate type.


An additional "Z" on the front of a docket number represents a closed case. If no "Z" exists, the case is open. Even if the first letter of the docket number is a "Z" representing the current year, this does not mean that the case is closed. There would have to be another "Z" before the "Z" representing the year.



About the Author

Kim Sarah has been a writer since 2000. Her work has appeared on NECN, WCTR-TV3 and in the "Torch" university newspaper, among other publications. Sarah received a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Worcester State University and a Master of Arts in journalism from Roosevelt University. She is also studying nursing and computer science at Indiana State University.