Monthly Archives: December 2007

Identity Theft and Online Court Records

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Online access to court records have created significant risks of identity theft due to the publication of personal information such as social security numbers, dates of birth and financial information. The volume of personal information that currently exists online and the potential costs to remove personal data are astronomical. Currently, some states are working to remove personal data from online records, but it is ultimately up to the individual to take steps to protect their personal information.

More information is available at the Free Public Records Directory blog.… Read More

Online Help for FOIA and Government Records

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In a March 13, 2007 article entitled “Getting Your Government Files,” US News and World Report describes several resources for access to government records via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA):

For general requests:

“an easy-to-use FOI letter generator.”

For an individual’s files:

“relevant forms from the Freedom of Information Center.”

For open meetings and other open records:

“The Reporters Committee has a handy guide.”

Another resource related to FOIA is, an online service that offers “an unprecedented level of access to government documents by allowing users to browse, search, … Read More

Access to Adoption Records: The Debate Continues

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on November 11, 2007:

It’s among the most divisive questions in the realm of adoption: Should adult adoptees have access to their birth records, and thus be able to learn the identity of their birth parents?

… Kansas and Alaska never barred adoptees from seeing their birth certificates. Since 1996, six other states — Alabama, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Tennessee — have decided to allow access to all adult adoptees.

From the Chicago Tribune on November 12, 2007:

Adoptees are the only Americans, who, as a class, are not permitted to obtain their original

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What Everyone Should Know About Court Records

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This material is adapted from an update to the CCJ/COSA Guidelines and is presented here to highlight general information about access to court records. While public access rules and exceptions are different for every state, there are several broad concepts that generally apply to all courts.

1. What are court records?

Court records include any document, information, exhibit, or other thing filed in a court case by the parties or their lawyers. Examples of court records include complaints, petitions, answers, motions, transcripts, calendars, minutes of a court proceeding, docket entries, court orders, decrees and judgments.

Court records also include documents, … Read More Site Launch

      No Comments on Site Launch was developed with the intent of providing our users with a means to discover where court records can be found in any given state or county.  But just providing links to court sites isn’t enough.   The number of courts offering online access to court records is increasing every day, and that’s great.  But, there are thousands of courts that don’t offer any online presence and people still need to get at the records.  So, we’ve tried to at least provide contact information for every court system.

 What we have not seen an improvement in is the information provided by … Read More Overview

      No Comments on Overview is designed to help users navigate the complex world of the trial court systems in the United States. Each state has its own court structure and rules as to where cases are filed, handled and tried. This site seeks to assist casual and regular participants in the legal system by providing overviews of the state court structures as well as court contact information. We also provide links to online court resources including case searching, court dockets, court opinions and self help tools.

The Home Page provides links to all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Once on a … Read More

Improved court information

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A little over a year ago I realized that the Public Records Free Directory was not doing a very good job of helping users get the information they needed about courts and court records. Our links and descriptions for court websites ( and often the linked sites themselves ) lacked information about the scope of records available  and even less about where a particular court fits in to the overall court system.  

If, for example,  we’re looking to search for criminal court records in a given county, we first need to know what courts might have criminal cases and then … Read More

Summit County, Ohio naturalization records

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The  Summit County, Ohio,  Clerk of Courts has recently made a database of naturalization ( immigration ) records available online. Records from 1850 through 1991 are included. Search by name, country of origin, or file year. Results include document images of the citizen’s U.S. Naturalization Service Declaration of Intention form which contains origin information, physical description, address, and other personal information. There are quite a few naturalization record systems online, but this is the first one I’ve seen that contains records this recent or that includes images of the application documents. Check it out from our Summit County, Ohio Public Read More