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How can county court verdict records be accessed?

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Quick Answer

A primary source for records of county court verdicts are the archive files of the county court in which the verdict was recorded. Although county court verdicts are a matter of public record, the information may not be available online or in a digital format; the records may be stored on microfilm, microfiche or on paper. Some county courts may only offer an online index of records or provide partial listings, and a researcher should be prepared with a working knowledge of the manual access systems that may be in use by a particular county court.

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Because county courts do not typically share their records with other jurisdictions, a number of county courts' record-archival systems may need to be researched when performing a comprehensive background check. A great deal of time and effort may be required because there is no centralized, or national, public access archival system in the United States and more than 7,000 county courts.

Online public access to information about private individuals has increased significantly in the United States and has become a matter of controversy. Third-party for-profit data-mining services have compiled profiles on private individuals that have been allegedly retrieved from public records. This has led to what critics have referred to as a "dossier society" and which has been attributed to a growing number of disenfranchised private individuals who are forced to carry the stigma of a former embarrassing or criminal record because of its inclusion in a county court's archive system.

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