How to access court records electronically

Locate a federal court case by using the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) or by visiting the Clerk’s Office of the courthouse where the case was filed.

Electronic Case Files

Federal case files are maintained electronically and are available through the internet-based Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service. PACER allows anyone with an account to search and locate appellate, district, and bankruptcy court case and docket information. Register for a PACER account.

  • Use the PACER Case Locator if you are not sure which specific federal court the case was filed. You may also conduct nationwide searches to determine whether or not a party is involved in a federal case. This database updates at midnight each day.
  • Access federal case documents in real-time if you know the specific court the case was filed in by logging into PACER.

Case files may also be accessed from the public access terminals in the clerk’s office of the court where the case was filed.

Paper Case Files

Most cases created before 1999 are maintained in paper format only. Access paper case files from the court, where the case was filed, or at one of the Federal Records Centers (FRCs). Contact the court where the case was filed for more information.

Phone Access to Court Records

All bankruptcy courts have a telephone information system, also known as the Voice Case Information System, that enables callers to obtain basic case information through a touchtone phone. This is free to use and available 24 hours a day.

Court Opinions

Court opinions are available for free on PACER to anyone with an account. Additionally, access to court opinions from many appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts are available for no fee in a text searchable format through a partnership with the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO), consistent with the E-Government Act.

Older Historical Court Records

When court records and case files are eligible for permanent preservation, they are transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for storage and preservation. These records can be accessed directly from NARA.

  • Electronic and paper court records retained at the court site can be viewed at the courthouse for free, however there is a fee of 10 cents per page to print from a public access terminal.
  • There is a fee of 10 cents per page to access a file through PACER, with a maximum charge of $3.00 per document. Users are billed on a quarterly basis. Fees are waived for anyone accruing less than $30 in a quarter. Learn more about how PACER fees work.
  • There is a $64 fee to retrieve a document for viewing that is from the Federal Records Center. See the Electronic Public Access Fee Schedule for details.

Fee Exemptions for Researchers

Individual researchers working on defined research projects intended for scholarly work can use the attached form (pdf) to request PACER fee exemptions from multiple courts. In accordance with the EPA fee schedule, the request should be limited in scope, and not be intended for redistribution on the internet or for commercial purposes.

Please note, if you are seeking a fee exemption from a single court and/or for non-research purposes, contact that court directly.

Research Database

Define the data needs for research using the Federal Court Cases Integrated Database (IDB) provided free of charge by the Federal Judicial Center. The IDB has case data (not documents) for criminal, civil, appellate, and bankruptcy cases that can help researchers refine their requests.

Other Court Records

Information on accessing opinions and case-related documents for the Supreme Court of the United States is available on the court’s website.

Most court documents are available online, but judges may seal case records in some circumstances. Here is an overview.

Online Access

Most documents in federal courts – appellate, district, and bankruptcy – are filed electronically, using a system called Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF). The media and public may view most filings found in this system via the Public Access to Court Electronic Records service, better known as PACER. Reporters who cover courts should consider establishing a PACER account and becoming familiar with the system. Users can open an account and receive technical support at pacer.gov.

Most documents in federal courts are filed electronically using CM/ECF. The media and public may view most filings found in this system.

Documents not available to the public are discussed in Sealed Documents and Closed Hearings. Even in public court documents, however, some information is not available. Federal rules require that anyone filing a federal court document must redact certain personal information in the interest of privacy, including Social Security or taxpayer identification numbers, dates of birth, names of minor children, financial account information, and in criminal cases, home addresses.

Once case information has been filed or updated in the CM/ECF system, that information is immediately available through PACER. Some courts provide free automatic case notification through Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds or through read-only CM/ECF access. In courts where RSS is available, PACER users can opt to receive automatic notification of case activity, summarized text, and links to the document and docket report.

For cases that draw substantial media and public interest, some courts have created special sections of their websites, called “Cases of Interest” or “Notable Cases,” where docket entries, court orders, and sometimes, trial exhibits may be posted. Some courts also use an email/text alert service during high-profile cases, to alert reporters to major filings and other information.

Older Documents

Most documents and docket sheets for cases that opened before 1999 are in paper format and therefore may not be available online. Paper files on closed cases eventually are transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) or they are destroyed in accordance with a records retention schedule approved by both the Judicial Conference of the United States and NARA.

Any search for older paper documents should begin by contacting the court where the case was filed. As a secondary source, such documents may be available from NARA.

User Fees

User fees are charged to access documents in PACER, and the current fee structure is available at Electronic Public Access Fee Schedule. Fees are billed quarterly, and all fees are waived if the bill does not exceed a specified limit in a billing quarter.

Written opinions are published on court websites and are available for free on PACER. Many courts also publish free, text-searchable opinions on the Federal Digital System, or FDsys, operated by the U.S. Government Publishing Office.

Electronic records can be viewed in the clerk of court’s office for free, as can any paper records that have not been destroyed or transferred to the National Archives. But per-page fees are charged for printing or copying court documents in the clerk’s office.

Sealed Documents and Closed Hearings

Some documents are not ordinarily available to the public. As noted in Privacy Policy for Electronic Case Files these include unexecuted summonses or warrants; pretrial bail and presentence reports; juvenile records; documents containing information about jurors; and various filings, such as expenditure records, that might reveal the defense strategies of court-appointed lawyers.

In certain circumstances, judges have the authority to seal additional documents or to close hearings that ordinarily would be public. Reasons can include protecting victims and cooperating informants, and avoiding the release of information that might compromise an ongoing criminal investigation or a defendant’s due process rights.

  • Courts sometimes seal documents that contain sensitive material, such as classified information affecting national security or information involving trade secrets.
  • Criminal case documents and hearing transcripts are sometimes sealed to protect cooperating witnesses from retaliation.
  • The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for protective orders during discovery to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.
  • Bankruptcy court records are public, but under the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, the court may withhold certain commercial information, any “scandalous or defamatory matter,” or information that may create an undue risk of identity theft or other injury.

When a party to a case moves to seal a document or to close a hearing, a record of the motion can be found in PACER. Media organizations sometimes file motions opposing such requests.

Generally, when a party to a case moves to seal a document or to close a hearing, a record of the motion can be found in PACER. As noted in Media Access in Brief, media organizations sometimes file motions opposing such requests.

Civil litigants may ask judges to issue a protective order forbidding parties from disclosing any information or materials gathered during discovery. Deposition records often remain in the custody of the lawyers, and the media do not have a right of access to discovery materials not filed with the court.

When a civil case is settled, that fact is usually apparent from the public record. However, the terms of settlement and any discovery records may remain confidential.

The Federal Judicial Center provides comprehensive explanations of these issues in two downloadable booklets: Sealing Court Records and Proceedings: A Pocket Guide and Confidential Discovery: A Pocket Guide on Protective Orders.

How to search for an electronic court record

Portal users may search for a record by entering a party name or case record number (e.g., docket number or traffic citation number) after clicking on the “Smart Search” button on the Portal start page. If there are electronic record(s) that match the search criteria entered, the system will display a list of the case record(s) for you to select from. Once a record is selected, the system will display the Registry of Actions (ROA)(formerly called the case docket sheet) for the case. Additional court records are viewable via the Portal as provided in the Maine Rules of Electronic Court Systems (RECS).

Users may search for and view records with or without registering for a Portal account. There is no cost for registering for an account.

Document Charges

Court documents available through the Odyssey Portal are available for download and purchase. The cost is $1 per page. There is no document charge for parties and attorneys of record who have registered for “elevated access” to their cases.

eFileMaine filers

Parties, attorneys, and other eFileMaine users must access filings other than their own filings through the Portal. Parties and attorneys of record must have “elevated access” to view all filings in their cases. See how to request elevated access.

Maine Rules of Electronic Court Systems (RECS)

Access to electronic court records is governed by the Maine Rules of Electronic Court Systems (RECS). RECS “weigh[es] the importance of both public access and protection of privacy in court records in the context of an electronic case management and filing system” and creates three broad categories of access:

  • Records accessible by the public remotely;
  • Records accessible by the publiconly at a courthouse where eFiling is available; and
  • Records accessible only by parties, attorneys of record, and other case participants.

RECS provides that certain information, data, documents, and cases are “nonpublic” (restricted from public access).

What court records are accessible remotely?

Currently, the following court records may be searched for and viewed remotely:

  • Traffic tickets (citations) (statewide)
  • The Registry of Actions (ROA) and additional court records for many types of civil cases (in the Bangor District Court, Penobscot Superior Court, and the statewide Business & Consumer Docket), including:
    • Business and Consumer Docket cases;
    • Personal injury tort;
    • Non-personal injury tort;
    • Contract;
    • Declaratory or equitable relief;
    • Constitutional/civil rights;
    • Title to real estate and related proceedings;
    • 80B/80C appeals and other civil appeals;
    • Money judgments; and
    • After judgment, if the plaintiff prevailed, in Forcible Entry and Detainer (FED or eviction), small claims, and foreclosure cases.

As eFiling is expanded to additional case types, access will be available for the following types of cases as provided by RECS:

  • Criminal;
  • Juvenile;
  • Protection from abuse and protection from harassment; and
  • Civil violation cases.

What court records are only accessible at a courthouse?

Court records that are not otherwise deemed nonpublic pursuant to RECS, are accessible at a courthouse where eFiling is available via a Public Access Computer (PAC) for the following types of cases:

  • Divorce, annulment, or judicial separation;
  • Parental rights and responsibilities cases, including the establishment or enforcement of a child support obligation;
  • Establishment of parentage;
  • Grandparent or great-grandparent visitation;
  • Protection from abuse and protection from harassment (when eFiling is available for these case types);
  • Forcible entry and detainer (FED or eviction) (before entry of judgment);
  • Foreclosure (before entry of judgment); and
  • Small claims (before entry of judgment).

Legacy cases

Court records for closed or inactive cases (sometimes called “legacy cases”) are not available as electronic records except in traffic cases. A request may be made for a court record by contacting the clerk’s office in the court where the case was handled. See also the Request for Records Search instructions and form.

Related Links

  • Instructions for requesting elevated access to electronic case records (PDF)
  • Form to request elevated access (PDF) to be used by parties and attorneys
  • Case Search Identifiers for Maine eCourts (PDF)
  • Rules of Electronic Court Systems (RECS) (PDF)

Search for a Case

Learn options to find case information.

Filing Electronically

Find court specific information to help you file a case electronically and developer resources.

Manage Your Account

Create a PACER account or log in to manage your account and pay a bill.

Move to NextGen CM/ECF

Is your court migrating to NextGen CM/ECF? Follow these steps to prepare in advance.

What is PACER?

The Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service provides electronic public access to federal court records. PACER provides the public with instantaneous access to more than 1 billion documents filed at all federal courts.

Registered users can:

  • Search for a case in the federal court where the case was filed, or
  • Search a nationwide index of federal court cases.

The PACER Service Center can assist you at (800) 676-6856 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or by email at [email protected] .

What if I cannot find the case I am looking for?

If you cannot locate a case when searching a federal court’s case records by case number or party name, try using the PACER Case Locator. This will generate a listing of nationwide court locations and case numbers where a party is involved in federal litigation. If you cannot find the case party through the PACER Case Locator, then contact the federal court where you think the case was filed for assistance.

How much does it cost to access documents using PACER?

Access to case information costs $0.10 per page. Depending on format, billable pages are calculated in two different ways. For HTML-formatted information, a billable page is calculated using a formula based on the number of bytes extracted (4,320 bytes = 1 billable page). For PDFs, the actual number of pages is counted (1 PDF page = 1 billable page).

The cost to access a single document is capped at $3.00, the equivalent of 30 pages for documents and case-specific reports like docket report, creditor listing, and claims register. The cap does not apply to name search results, reports that are not case-specific, and transcripts of federal court proceedings.

NOTE: If you accrue $30 or less of charges in a quarter, fees are waived for that period. 75 percent of PACER users do not pay a fee in a given quarter.

The $0.10 per-page charge is based on the number of pages that result from each search and accessing each requested report or document online. The charge is not based on printing that search or document. Read some examples of how charges are generated:

Enter party name “johnson, t” and receive two pages of matches. The charge is $0.20.

Enter case number 01-10054 and select Docket Report. The docket is 10 pages, so the charge is $1. You may enter a date range to limit the number of pages by displaying entries for the date range rather than all entries in the report.

Select a link within the docket report to view a document. The PDF document is five pages, so the charge is $0.50.

This charge applies to the number of pages that results from any search, including a search that yields no matches (a charge of $0.10, one page, for no matches).

Read the fee schedule for electronic public access services. Find out when PACER is free or tips to limit fees.

This page is about electronic records and tells you:

  • WHAT is an electronic court record,
  • WHO can look at an electronic court record, and
  • HOW to look at an electronic court record.

If your court does not keep electronic records, you will need to go to the courthouse in person to look at paper records.

Find Your Court

For jury duty, traffic tickets, or local court information, find your trial court:

What is an electronic court record?

When someone files a case in court, the court will keep an official record about the case. Information about you may be contained in a court record. For example, if you file a lawsuit claiming another person owes you money, your name and how much money you are asking for will become part of the court record.

A court may keep a record in paper or electronic format. A record kept in electronic format is known as an electronic record. An electronic record can only be viewed on an electronic device such as a computer, tablet, or cell phone.

Who can look at electronic court records?

The public is allowed to look at court records for most cases. However, there are some court records the public is not allowed to see. This happens when a law or court order makes a record confidential.

Examples of confidential cases include “juvenile dependency” (when a child is removed from their parents) and “juvenile delinquency” (when a child is accused of committing a crime). Court records for these cases are not available to the public.

In other cases, there are certain documents in the case file that are not available to the public. An example of these is a fee waiver application. The public may be able to see part of the court record but would not be able to see this document.

Even when the public is not allowed to look at a court record, there will still be certain people who are allowed. For example, if you are a party in a case, you can look at the court record even if the public cannot.

How can I look at an electronic court record?

There are two ways to look at electronic court records:

  • On a computer at the courthouse.
  • On a computer, tablet, or smart phone anywhere with an internet connection, such as your home, or the public library. This is known as “remote access.”

How you can access an electronic record depends on your relationship to the case. If you are a party, you have full remote access. If you are a member of the public, there may be limits on what you can see through remote access.

Remote Access by the Public

If it can, a court that keeps electronic records must allow the public to see them at the courthouse or through remote access. But there are several exceptions to remote access in sensitive cases such as divorce, child custody, civil harassment, and criminal. These exceptions strike a balance between the public’s right to know about the court’s business and individual privacy.

For example, if you saw a news story about a criminal trial and wanted to look at the court’s electronic record about the case to find out more, you would need to visit the courthouse and see the electronic record there. In some special situations where there is an unusually high level of public interest in a criminal case, a judge may allow remote access to a criminal electronic record. But this is not typical. Normally, you would need to visit the courthouse.

As another example, if you and your spouse were getting a divorce, information about you and your marriage could be in an electronic record. But the public could not look at the electronic record using remote access. Members of the public who wanted to see the electronic record would have to visit the courthouse.

You can see a complete list of case types where the public can only see electronic records at the courthouse. View rule 2.503 of the California Rules of Court.

Keep in mind, all or part of a court record may also be confidential by law or court order. In that case, no one from the public would be able to view the electronic record at the courthouse or through remote access.

Remote Access by Parties and Other People Related to the Case

Certain people, such as a party or a party’s attorney can always use remote access, if available, to look at the full electronic court record.

The sections below will give you more information about the people who can have full remote access to electronic records. The sections below only apply if the court is able to provide remote access. Not every court may be able to provide remote access. Even courts that are able to provide it may not yet be able to provide it to everyone listed below.

  • Party — If you are a party, you can use remote access to look at electronic records of your case. The other party in your case can also look at the electronic records.
  • Person Authorized by a Party — If you are a party, you need another person’s help, and you want that person to use remote access to look at electronic records of your case, you can authorize that person to do so. This does not apply to electronic records of criminal, juvenile justice, or child welfare cases. It also does not apply to confidential electronic records. Even if you are a party in those kinds of cases, you cannot authorize just anyone to look at the electronic record. But, if you have an attorney, your attorney can still see the electronic record.
  • Party’s Attorney — If you are a party and you have an attorney, your attorney may use remote access to look at the electronic records in your case. If your attorney works in an organization such as a law firm or public defender’s office, other people working in the organization may also use remote access to view the electronic records. This is only if they are assisting your attorney with your case. Paralegals, legal secretaries, interns, and other attorneys are all example of people who may be assisting your attorney with your case.
  • Court-appointed People — Sometimes the court will appoint people to participate in a case who are not a party’s attorney. For example, a child’s interests can be impacted by a case where the child is not a party. If so, the court may appoint someone to look out for the child’s interests. As another example, the court may appoint an investigator to find information. In situations where the court has appointed a person to participate in a case, that person is allowed to use remote access to view electronic records to fulfill the responsibilities the court assigned.
  • Legal Aid Staff — Sometimes legal aid organizations have lawyers represent parties before a court. When that happens, the legal aid lawyer, just like any lawyer representing a party, is allowed to use remote access to look at the electronic records in the party’s case. Often though, legal aid organizations may provide more limited scope services like a brief consultation, help understanding the procedures in a case, and help with forms and documents. If you go to legal aid for help with your case, the legal aid staff may be authorized to use remote access to look at the electronic records in your case with your consent.
  • Government Staff — State and local government agencies often need staff to view court records in the performance of government functions. Staff from these agencies may be authorized to view records using remote access. For example, a city police department or county probation department may need to look at electronic records in criminal matters. You can see a list of state and local government agencies and the types of electronic records their staff may see using remote access. View rule 2.540 of the California Rules of Court.

Search for a Case

Learn options to find case information.

Filing Electronically

Find court specific information to help you file a case electronically and developer resources.

Manage Your Account

Create a PACER account or log in to manage your account and pay a bill.

Move to NextGen CM/ECF

Is your court migrating to NextGen CM/ECF? Follow these steps to prepare in advance.

What is PACER?

The Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service provides electronic public access to federal court records. PACER provides the public with instantaneous access to more than 1 billion documents filed at all federal courts.

Registered users can:

  • Search for a case in the federal court where the case was filed, or
  • Search a nationwide index of federal court cases.

The PACER Service Center can assist you at (800) 676-6856 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or by email at [email protected] .

What if I cannot find the case I am looking for?

If you cannot locate a case when searching a federal court’s case records by case number or party name, try using the PACER Case Locator. This will generate a listing of nationwide court locations and case numbers where a party is involved in federal litigation. If you cannot find the case party through the PACER Case Locator, then contact the federal court where you think the case was filed for assistance.

How much does it cost to access documents using PACER?

Access to case information costs $0.10 per page. Depending on format, billable pages are calculated in two different ways. For HTML-formatted information, a billable page is calculated using a formula based on the number of bytes extracted (4,320 bytes = 1 billable page). For PDFs, the actual number of pages is counted (1 PDF page = 1 billable page).

The cost to access a single document is capped at $3.00, the equivalent of 30 pages for documents and case-specific reports like docket report, creditor listing, and claims register. The cap does not apply to name search results, reports that are not case-specific, and transcripts of federal court proceedings.

NOTE: If you accrue $30 or less of charges in a quarter, fees are waived for that period. 75 percent of PACER users do not pay a fee in a given quarter.

The $0.10 per-page charge is based on the number of pages that result from each search and accessing each requested report or document online. The charge is not based on printing that search or document. Read some examples of how charges are generated:

Enter party name “johnson, t” and receive two pages of matches. The charge is $0.20.

Enter case number 01-10054 and select Docket Report. The docket is 10 pages, so the charge is $1. You may enter a date range to limit the number of pages by displaying entries for the date range rather than all entries in the report.

Select a link within the docket report to view a document. The PDF document is five pages, so the charge is $0.50.

This charge applies to the number of pages that results from any search, including a search that yields no matches (a charge of $0.10, one page, for no matches).

Read the fee schedule for electronic public access services. Find out when PACER is free or tips to limit fees.

Contact for How to search court dockets

eAccess

Online

The Details of How to search court dockets

What you need for How to search court dockets

You can access public electronic Trial Court case docket information in person or online. You can access electronic case information for SJC and Appeals Court cases here.

  • To access electronic case information for attorneys, see view electronic case information through the Attorney Portal
  • To find judicial calendars, see view court calendars
  • To get a copy of your divorce record, please see Get a copy of your divorce record
  • To find old court records, please see Accessing Court Archives.

You’ll need a public terminal computer, which you can find at any Massachusetts courthouse, County Registry of Deeds sites or a supported browser:

  • Internet Explorer, Version 7 or higher
  • Firefox
  • Chrome

How to view How to search court dockets

In person

State Courthouses

Trial Court case information is available at designated public access computers located in District, Boston Municipal, Probate and Family, Superior, Housing, and Land Courts and County Registry of Deeds sites.

The public access PCs run the eAccess application and allow searches by name, case type, and case number. The search results display case information, including party, event, docket, and disposition details. However, you can’t view case documents. Actual case documents are available for public inspection in the Clerk, Register, and Recorder’s Offices.

Contact Information

Overview

Broward County Clerk of the Court is now offering Electronic Certified Court Documents for purchase on the Clerk’s website. Each electronic certified document uses advanced encrypted features to produce a tamper proof electronic certified document that will include a unique Clerk of Court digital signature.

With Electronic Certified Documents, local governments are taking steps to serve a digital society and tackle document fraud while increasing efficiency.

Benefits of Electronic Certified Documents are:

  • Online
  • Real-time
  • Convenient
  • Secure
  • Efficient
  • Environmental friendly

Purchase Documents Online

Electronic certified court documents are now available for purchase on the Clerk’s website. Only viewable electronic court documents may be purchased online.

In order to purchase an Electronic Certified Court Document on the website, the document must be in a viewable electronic format. If the case and/or document you are looking for is not available for viewing on the website, you may submit a Court Records Request, or you may view or obtain court records in-person.

How to Purchase Electronic Certified Court Documents Online:

  • Perform a Case Search to locate the case.
  • On the Case Search results page, select the case number to view the case detail.
  • Select the red Purchase Certified Copies Online button.
  • Accept the terms of service to start the purchase process.
  • Select all the documents you would like to purchase and click on the green $ Purchase Selected Documents button to start checkout process.
  • Upon completion of purchase, you will receive an email from [email protected] with links to the certified documents. The amount of time it will take to deliver the Electronic Certified Document(s) will depend on your email server. It is normal to have to wait for a couple of minutes before receiving an email to your inbox.

Verify Electronic Certified Document

Clerk E-Certify provides two fast and easy ways to verify and authenticate both your printed copies and your electronic certificates that have been issued by the Broward County Clerk’s Office.

To better explain how to verify a document, a video has been provided on this page.

The Broward Clerk of Courts provides two fast and easy ways to verify and authenticate printed copies and electronic certified copies.

Users may simply enter the Unique Reference Code from the original record and we will return you the authentication results.

How to access court records electronically

Users may upload an electronic certificate file and we will perform an automated authentication.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of electronic certified court documents?

Who is the signing authority for electronic certified court documents?

Is it legal to use electronic certified court documents of court records?

Can I order electronic certified court documents online and access them now?

Do electronic certified court documents have a wet seal?

Will electronic certified court documents be accepted by other agencies?

Can I reuse the electronic certified court documents I purchased?

How long are electronic certified court documents available for download?

Do electronic certified court documents expire?

What if I’m unable to locate an electronic court document online?

What if I do not receive an email with a link to the electronic certified court documents?

How can I tell if an electronic certified court document is authentic?

Can I open an electronic certified court document in a software other than Adobe Reader?

What technology is used to ensure that the documents are tamper-proof and valid forever?

What technology is used to ensure the validity and legal effect of the electronic certificates generated by Triedata’s Clerk E-Certify?

What types of Electronic Court Documents are available Online?

Access to online court documents are governed by the Florida Courts Technology Standards. and are available for access based upon the court type, case type and the year in which the case was filed. Only viewable electronic court documents can be purchased online.

If the case and/or court document you are looking for is is not available for viewing on the website, you may submit a Court Records Request, or go in person to the appropriate Clerk of Court Service Location to order, purchase or view copies of court records. Older court documents can only be purchased from the Archives Division.

Below is a summary of the types of electronic court documents that are available for access online.

Civil Court Records – Filed on or after 04/01/2013

  • Circuit Civil
  • County Civil
  • Family, including Divorce Records (Attorney of Record or Registered User access is required)
  • Domestic Violence (Attorney of Record or Registered User access is required)
  • Probate (Attorney of Record or Registered User access is required)
  • Guardianship (Attorney of Record or Registered User access is required)
  • Mental Health (Attorney of Record or Registered User access is required)

Juvenile and Adoption Court Records – Filed on or after 01/06/2014

  • Juvenile Delinquency (Attorney of Record or Registered User access is required)
  • Juvenile Dependency and Adoption (Attorney of Record or Registered User access is required)

Criminal Court Records – Filed on or after 01/06/2014

  • Circuit Criminal Felony
  • *Traffic and Misdemeanor NOTE:*Traffic and Misdemeanor cases filed prior to 2011 were routinely purged from the main system and can only be obtained by submitting Court Records Request or in-person.

Legal Resources for Digital Media

If you’re hunting for information, consider a visit to the courthouse, where you can sift through resource-rich court records or attend (sometimes colorful) court proceedings.

Courts are centers for dispute resolution. They are public forums in which societal norms and values, as reflected in laws, are used to address and correct wrongs. While a number of laws govern the court system, none is so deeply-ingrained as the presumption that court proceedings should be open to the public.

If you are wondering how attending court proceedings or combing through court records might be valuable to you, here are several great reasons to consider acquiring — and publishing — information available from the courts:

You’re interested in reporting on justice or the functioning of the court system

Some believe that courts dispense justice; others believe that the law is divorced from justice. One good way to explore this issue is by attending a trial. Non-traditional journalists have already had highly visible success in covering court proceedings, as seen in the 2007 trial of Lewis “Scooter” Libby. A blogger from Firedoglake.com gained press credentials, live-blogged the trial, and provided the public with what the New York Times described as the “fullest, fastest public report” that traditional reporters used to fact check their stories. Salon applauded Firedoglake for producing “insightful” and “superb” coverage “that simply never is, and perhaps cannot be, matched by even our largest national media outlets.” In this case press credentials were necessary due to the intense public interest, but usually they’re not needed for courtroom access.

If you are interested in reporting on justice or the functioning of the court system, you should review the sections on access to federal court and state court proceedings for guidance on how to attend court proceedings. You may want to consult court records to get a better understanding of what is happening in court. For details, see State Court Records and Federal Court Records.

You enjoy publishing a good story

Attorneys engage in storytelling to win the case for their clients. Conflicts are inherently interesting, and the stories presented at trial tend to offer different interpretations of the truth. Tensions run high, and you may find yourself caring deeply about a previously unknown issue. As a result, courtroom dramas can make compelling subjects for blog posts and other website content. You need merely look at the Citizen Media Law Project Blog for evidence of this and the many fascinating “stories” we cover in the Legal Threats Database.

If you enjoy publishing a good story, you should visit the page on Access to the Jury and Trial Participants to find out how to properly contact court participants such as judges, lawyers, parties, witnesses, and jurors to get the juicy details that will bring your story to life.

You have a pre-existing interest in one of the parties in a court proceeding

If a certain person or institution interests you, following their footprints in court often yields a wealth of information. For example, as part of their coverage of the 1972 election, the Washington Post sent a young journalist on a low level assignment to attend the arraignment of five men who had been arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters. As the journalist paid close attention to the proceedings, he quickly realized that there were more questions that needed investigating. If Bob Woodward hadn’t attended that seemingly minor court proceeding, the Watergate story might never have been broken.

Besides the obvious value of attending court proceedings, there is a wealth of information available in court records about individuals, corporations, and other organizations that can further aid your investigations. See the sections on access to federal and state court records for guidance on how to access this information.

You enjoy historical research

Court records can be immensely helpful to historians in two major ways: specific court cases can illuminate a certain aspect of history, and court records in aggregate can show statistical trends that highlight social, cultural, or structural changes. For genealogists, court records can also reveal family relationships, places of residence, occupations, physical or personality descriptions, or naturalization dates. Refer to Genealogy.com and Ancestry.com for more information on how mine court records for information on your family.

If you enjoy historical research, you will find a wealth of information in court files, a growing percentage of which are now available electronically. The sections on access to federal and state court records should help you find the right place to look for the information you need.

Where to Begin

Now that we’ve whetted your interest in court proceedings and records, it’s time to do some research so that you will be able to get access to what you need. Before you jump into the materials in this guide, however, you should first determine whether the documents and/or proceedings you are interested in are associated with the federal court system or a state court system. The the page on Identifying Federal, State, and Local Government Bodies should help, as will a preliminary visit to the courthouse.

Once you’ve figured out what information you want and where it is located, you should browse the following sections to get a full understanding of your right to access court records and court proceedings:

  • Access to Federal and State Courts: Describes your right to attend court proceedings and access court records.
  • Access to Jury and Trial Participants: Explains how to properly contact court participants such as judges, lawyers, parties, witnesses, and jurors.
  • Remedies if You Are Denied Access to Court Proceedings: Outlines the procedures you should follow if a judge closes a court proceeding you wish to attend.
  • Practical Tips for Accessing Courts and Court Records: While we can’t guarantee that you will get every court record or attend every court proceeding you desire, the tips listed on this page will help ensure that you take full advantage of the wealth of information available through state and federal courts.