Tag Archives: public access

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

Misconceptions About Court Records Availability

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While keeping up with developments in court systems, court records, and related online resources, we at CourtReference frequently encounter discussions about the difficulty – or ease – of finding court records online. We’ve discussed the many types of court records available online, right here on this blog; see our posts about More Court Records (Jan 2012),  What to Know Before Searching (Dec 2010), Jurisdiction and Court Records (Oct 2008), Court Records Basics (Aug 2008),  and Where to Find Criminal Records (Feb 2008).

Yet many people still have trouble finding court records. “There’s no such thing as free court records online” … Read More

There’s an App for That…

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Yes, it does seem like there’s an app for everything. What about court calendars and other case information? Although some courts don’t have that information online, many do – and a few are providing apps to make that same information available on mobile devices.

There are many apps available to track important cases, mostly U.S. Supreme Court cases. There are also many apps that provide access to state and federal laws and court rules. So far, these are commercial products available at the app store, but neither available from nor sanctioned by court systems.

Some appellate-level courts, such as the … Read More

Utah Ahead of the Curve in Online Access to Statewide Court Records

In any given state, you could typically expect to find maybe one or two statewide court records databases online. Utah is unusual in offering five different means to search court records online. This means easier, faster access to various trial court records, and CourtReference offers links to all of them from its Utah Court Case Records Search page.

Although in other states you may be able to search court records through a particular county’s resource, statewide resources offer the advantage of being able to search for cases even if you do not know the county where the case was heard. … Read More

State Attorneys General Provide Legal Resources and Legal Research for Free

Generally when we hear about state attorneys general in the news, it is because they are suing tobacco companies, or defending high-profile state laws in court. But state attorneys general (“SAGs”) can also be a good resource for guidance on everyday legal issues. SAGs are tasked with providing legal protection to their state’s residents, which means pursuing big lawsuits sometimes, but also providing guidance on issues such as consumer fraud, elder abuse, and victims’ rights.

The websites of various SAGs provide a variety of resources. The Arizona SAG site, has a section on what to do about annoying telemarketers … Read More

Law Libraries for You

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Need to do some legal research? Look up a case, a statute, books on a particular legal topic, or a specific legal document? Try the law library; it’s easier than you think. There is at least one law library in your state that is open to the public; in some states, there is one in every county. And like public libraries, law libraries are putting their catalogs and other resources online.

Check your state’s CourtReference guide’s Self Help and Legal Research resource category and look for the word “library” on the page. You’ll find the closest law library and links … 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