Category Archives: Court Systems

More Online Court Options

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Just a little over two years ago, we reported on a new trend in some courts: allowing people to fight their traffic tickets by mail. That was a departure from the traditional choices of paying your ticket, or having to go to court in person to fight it. Yet only two months later, we reported on a newer trend in some courts: allowing people go fight their parking tickets online. Tellingly, we closed that post with the observation that “[a]s with any innovation that makes life easier, more are sure to follow. ”

In the last two years, … Read More

A New Type of Court Record

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CourtReference loves court records. Each of our state guides has links to many different kinds of court-related resources, but the most popular are the links to online court records. If your court doesn’t have records online – or if you need to see the original hardcopy – each CourtReference state guide provides contact information for every trial court in the state, so you can locate the court and arrange to see the records.

We like to talk about court records on this blog too; we’ve covered the things you need to know about court records here, the many new … Read More

Conciliation: A New Form of Dispute Resolution

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When people have a disagreement that can’t be resolved by simply discussing the problem, they may end up going to court for a resolution  – especially if the disagreement involves something as important as family issues or large sums of money. Going to court can be very expensive if you hire a lawyer, and it still costs some money (e.g., filing fees) if you don’t hire a lawyer. It’s very time consuming either way, especially if you don’t hire a lawyer.

And it’s not quick; courts are busy, many court systems are underfunded and overburdened, and it can be months … Read More

Contacting Courts

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When you use a state court directory on CourtReference.com, one of the first things you notice is that we provide contact information – address, phone, and fax – for every state, county, and local trial court in the United States.

Anyone looking for court information online is most likely interested in what types of information are available online from the court. The information sought could be online access to court case records, court calendars, lawyer referral services, downloadable forms, or any of the other online resource categories that we provide via links. The types and sheer volume of information … Read More

When Court Websites Come Up Short

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Businesses, organizations, units of government, even many individuals have websites. It’s no surprise that many courts also have websites. As with any other entity’s website, some court websites are better than others: easier to see what’s there, easier to navigate, with more content.

On some court websites, it’s obvious at first glance how to contact the court by mail and phone, how to search case records and court calendars, how to locate and download the forms you need, and how to pay fines online. An explanation of the court’s process; the types of cases the court handles; and links to … Read More

Mental Health Courts

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Lately there have been a disturbing number of news reports about mentally-ill people being shot by police. The need for better training of police to deal with the mentally ill has been amply covered by other blogs. But mentally-ill people who survive their encounter with law enforcement have a chance for better treatment from the court system – and that’s where this blog comes in.

Back in 2008 we touched on two different aspects of court procedure involving people with mental health problems. A court system’s involvement with a mentally ill person may occur when the person is facing involuntary … Read More

Ohio Municipal Courts: More Than Just Municipal

Part of our job here at CourtReference – in addition to making sure that court contact information and links to court websites and other resources are up to date – is to provide a brief explanation of each state’s trial court system. When you select a state on CourtReference, the next page you see has a list of that state’s trial courts, an explanation of each, and a chart showing which types of cases are heard by each court.

Most state trial court systems are fairly simple, with one or two levels of general-jurisdiction courts in each county. We’ve … Read More

Court System Changes: Realignment

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Last October’s post about court system changes discussed structural changes, such as combining different tiers of state trial courts into a single tier, transferring jurisdiction over some types of cases from one type of court to another, or placing multiple courts under a single administration. These changes are driven by a need for efficiency, both to decrease costs during times of tight budgets and to insure fairness in access to justice.

In July 2010, we discussed how municipal courts in New Jersey, driven primarily by budget concerns, are using shared services and consolidation agreements to combine several local courts … Read More

Juvenile Records – Sealing or Expungement

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In our July 2008 post about juvenile court records, we noted that most juvenile court records are confidential. This is done to protect the juvenile, on the theory that juveniles are more prone to bad decisions than adults (i.e., they do “dumb things”), but that they can be rehabilitated. Law enforcement agencies and the court system can see juvenile records, but the general public cannot.

Background checks for the purposes of employment and housing – and sometimes for college admission, financial aid, etc. – are the general public’s main interest in court records. Since most juveniles are not yet … Read More

WHY STATE COURTS MATTER.

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From our early civics lessons we know that there are two court systems in the United States judiciary-federal and state.  On this CourtReference site, we focus exclusively on the courts from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.  State courts have broad jurisdiction to interpret the laws that govern our everyday lives: where we live, where we work, with whom we marry, procreate, and divorce (or any combination thereof!), and where we ultimately may be laid to rest.  From cradle to grave, we abide by the laws of our resident state, and are subject to the rulings … Read More