How do you get courthouse records?


Quick Answer

Court records can be obtained online, by mail or in person. Not all courts afford access to court records in the same way, so any court from which records are sought needs to be contacted individually, according to the National Center for State Courts (NCSC).

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Full Answer

The NCSC website provides links to online court record access available for every state. Courts in the United States are separated into federal and state courts. For federal courts, every state is separated into federal judicial districts, such as the Southern District of New York. Each of these districts have a clerk’s office where any court file for civil and criminal cases within that judicial district can be viewed. The clerk’s office will also respond to requests for records that are mailed in to the court, according to the Federal Court website. For both in person visits and mail-in requests, the clerk’s office may charge a fee for copying records.

Federal courts also have an online system to access federal civil and criminal case records called PACER. This system is available to the public, but there is a charge for accessing some records. State courts include state supreme courts, appellate courts, circuit, district or superior courts and local or municipal courts, and each may offer record access differently. Many times a state online court record search will provide separate record checks of civil and criminal cases, such as the Oregon Municipal Court. Federal court records that have been archived can be found at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, according to their website.

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