DRS: One of the best federal-court research tools you might not know about

Over the years, I have had numerous conversations with other attorneys about practice and procedure in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico.  I often mention that I use DRS to look up prior judicial decisions to analyze how judges have analyzed particular issues.  That often leads to someone asking me:   “What is DRS?”

DRS, which stands for Document Retrieval System, is a searchable electronic database of decisions by judges in this District.  DRS includes decisions of all types, even decisions that are unlikely to be included in paid legal research systems.  DRS is publicly available at no charge at this page which also links to a Query Syntax guide.

For example, suppose that one is looking for examples of decisions addressing Local Rule Civ. 83.3 (association or admission of non-member attorneys) of the Local Rules of Civil Procedure for the District of New Mexico.   Typing 83.3 into the search box yields 41 results.  Typing 83.3 AND associate into the search box yields a more-manageable list of 20 results.  As another approach, typing “Rule 83.3″~5 yields 14 results.

DRS allows searches to be filtered by assigned judges; authors (judges); nature of suit; event category; filing dates; case numbers; and case types.

DRS does not provide copies of the underlying motions or other briefing.  However, once DRS is used to identify cases or decisons of particular interest, one can use the PACER system to locate the related briefing for further analysis.

In short, DRS provides a cost-effective method for obtaining prior District Court decisions that may be relevant to preparing new court filings.

Disclaimer:  This blog posting is for informational purposes only.  It does not constitute legal advice and does not create any attorney-client relationship.