The full texts of court opinions are available online at no charge. Opinions have been posted since April 16, 2005, as required by the E-Government Act of 2002.
An opinion is defined by the Judicial Conference of the United States as any document issued by the court "that sets forth a reasoned explanation for a court’s decision." The definition excludes routine, non-substantive orders, such as scheduling orders or rulings on motions for extension of time. For the purposes of posting opinions online, judges decide, on a document-by-document basis, whether what they have written qualifies as an opinion.
Opinions are part of the federal judiciary's Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. To access the court's opinions, you must register for PACER. You will be asked for a credit card number. Viewing the opinions is free. For a current PACER fee schedule, visit PACER website.
You may also register for PACER online here.
Once you have registered:
- Go to the Eastern District of Virginia's main PACER page to log into the PACER system.
- Click on "Reports", which is located in the blue bar at the top of your screen.
- Click on "Written Opinions," which is located under the heading "Criminal and Civil Reports".
- Limit or expand your search using the search boxes for case number, party name, filing date, etc.
- Click on the "Run Report" button.
- Click on the numbers in the "Doc. #" column to read the full texts of the opinions.