In short, a trial docket sheet is the list of cases a judge must review. The list, or docket, is a pretty loose schedule for the judge to follow, as they have the ability to rearrange the “schedule” as they see fit. When your case is placed on the docket, it is assigned a case number.

What does my case number mean?

This number typically dictates the order in which your case will be taken to trial, however, as mentioned before, the judge has the authority to change the order in which cases will be taken to trial.

Sometimes, the judge is presented with a one-week docket, meaning the cases on that docket must be tried within one week. These cases will likely be shuffled to other dockets, effectively moving them higher up on the list. Don’t be discouraged by a high case number, awaiting trial for a little longer provides your lawyer with even more time to work on your case. Often, cases that keep being pushed for trial reach a settlement or plea agreement.

What information is included in a docket?

Information provided on dockets as well as who has access to viewing them varies between states and sometimes, even from one county to another. Because the information provided on a docket can have so much variation, the order in which the information, as well as the docket, may vary as well. For the most part, all dockets include the same base level information.

The first section lists details including the name of the court where the proceedings are taking place, the status of your case, the type of case, the docket number—which differs from the case number, the date the case was filed, the ruling judge’s name, as well as any related cases.

The next section, which is much shorter, includes the involved parties and contact information for both parties’ attorneys.

The third and final section provides documentation of every filing submitted throughout the duration of your case.

What does it mean to file?

Filing is the official submission of all documentation concerning a case to the appropriate clerk(s). These files will likely include anything from complaints to petitions and stipulations. But what exactly do these terms mean? A legal complaint is the initial document filed with the legal system. Whether you are the plaintiff (the party filing the complaint) or the defendant (the party the complaint was filed against, this filing will likely be the first note on your docket.

Often, the terms petition and complaint are found to be interchangeable, however, they do differ slightly. A complaint requests the court to provide monetary compensation for damages incurred, whereas a petition simply makes a ruling, deeming one party guilty or financially responsible.

A stipulation is a deal that an attorney’s representing parties have agreed upon, which will (hopefully) quicken the legal process, shortening your time spent in the courtroom and saving you money spent on a lawyer.

 Who has viewing access to a docket?

In most cases, anyone in the general public can access information regarding your case. For example, utilizing a case lookup site such as the MD judiciary case search, users will be able to gain access to both criminal and civil case records. Typically, for criminal cases, the public will have access to just about all information regarding the case. For cases concerning minors or family matters, such as divorce, information is not granted to the public.  

Hopefully, the topics we have discussed have provided you with a better understanding of some common legal terms regarding your case.