No Caption, No Problem.
Imagine you’ve just had an all-day deposition and forgot to get a copy of the caption. The job is an overnight and you’ve got a job tomorrow. Frightening, no? No! There’s some hope for you. In 2015, New York State declared that almost all lawsuits were required to be e-filed. Most deposition work here is filed with the Supreme Court of the State of New York. Therefore, you head on over to WebCivil Supreme with all the job information you have. You can see all documents filed on a case, including the summons and complaint, or the complaint. The complaint is the document that initiates a lawsuit, and it has the caption of the case.
Federal Cases are searchable through PACER. You’ll need some kind of information to find the case. If you are totally lost, more often than not, a New York City case will be filed with the Southern District of New York or the Eastern District of New York. Be aware that, as of writing, PACER charges a fee of about 10 cents per page. As of writing, PACER will only charge you if you accrue a bill of more than fifteen dollars in a quarter, about 150 pages in three months.
For those searching a criminal case, you can login as a public user and search through WebCrims. Cases that have been dismissed and sealed will not appear. WebCrims, from personal experience, as of writing, is not as useful and has less complete data than WebCivil Supreme.
The Last Resort.
When all else fails, head on over to Google and type in the case. It helps if you know when the case was filed. Keep in mind, court index numbers usually have the year they were filed in the number. For example, a case that looks like Smith v. Butterscotch 2017/204567 was filed in 2017. With the prevalence of e-filing, there is a good chance documents from the case you are looking up leaked their way onto the internet for free.