Tag Archives: court systems

How Many Courts?

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Here at CourtReference, we’ve quite familiar with the court systems in every state. Unless you have business with courts in many different states, you may not be aware of how different court systems can be from state to state.

The basic structure is not so different; each state usually has a trial court in which the parties argue both the facts and the law in front of a judge or jury. The judge decides how to apply the law, and the judge or jury decides which facts are true and which are not – in other words, which party … Read More

Different Type of Court, Same Type of Name?

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We talked about about the different types of courts you might find in different states here, including the difficulty of figuring out which local court handles your type of case (and the fact that CourtReference helps you figure that out). If you know the name of each court in your area, you can go to CourtReference and see what types of cases that court handles.

But just knowing the name of a court may not always be enough, depending on where you live. For example, you would think that a “Municipal Court” would have jurisdiction over a particular municipalityRead More

How Not to Find Case Records

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Last month’s post was a refresher course about how to find case records. It did mention simply Googling “court records” (“case records” will produce similar results) before suggesting better options. I’d like to explain a bit more about why Google is not the most efficient way to find case records.

Each court system maintains its own case records, perhaps on a statewide or countywide database, or a court-specific database, or (yes, even in this day and age) in paper files in steel filing cabinets, or on microfilm (to be fair, that last method is mostly used for older cases that … Read More

How to Find Case Records: A Refresher

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Here at CourtReference, we get a lot of questions about court records. People want to know how to go about looking up a divorce record, doing a criminal background check, or looking up a will from the 1800’s.

Of course anyone can just Google “court records” to start the ball rolling. But if Google knows your location (and they do, they do!), the top search results will be for your area – and most of the rest will be for commercial websites that charge a fee to search. That’s why most of our questions are about how to find … Read More

Court Administration

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Every state court system has an administrative branch that manages the court system’s internal operations. It is most often named the Administrative Office of the Courts (as in Washington), but may also be called the Office of Judicial Administration (as in Kansas), Office of the State Court Administrator (as in Colorado , the Chief Court Administrator (as in Connecticut), the Division of State Court Administration (as in Indiana), the Director of State Courts (as in Wisconsin), and even the Office of the Executive Secretary (as in Virginia).

These administrative offices are usually under the … Read More

Complaints About Judges

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We talk about lawyers a lot on this blog, including how to complain about your lawyer. What if you have a beef with the judge? That may seem like a stretch; sure, you can complain about the lawyer you hired, but you didn’t hire the judge. Even so, if a judge takes an action that could be considered to be unethical, misconduct, or evidence of mental or physical incapacity, there are ways to complain.

The American Bar Association (“ABA”) has adopted a Model Code of Judicial Conduct that establishes general rules for judges to follow. In a nutshell, … 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

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

Court System Changes: Consolidation

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State trial court systems don’t change their structures often. Most are established by state constitutions, although some are established by acts of the state legislature. Some states have a mix of both; a prime example is Texas, which has both “Constitutional” County Courts (one in each county) and “Statutory” County Courts (commonly called Courts at Law; from none to many in each county, depending mainly on the county’s population). Given the difficulty of changing a state constitution, and the contentiousness present in most state legislative actions, it’s easy to see why court systems are generally left alone.

Texas actually … Read More