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Court Records Free Reference and Directory

Page history last edited by Tom Johnson 15 years, 5 months ago

Resource of the Week: Court Records Free Reference and Directory

By Shirl Kennedy, Senior Editor

Off the Shelf: ResourceShelf Newsletter http://www.resourceshelf.com/

Number 375                                         September 11, 2008



If you work with public records at all, you quickly realize that

different states and different jurisdictions have all kinds of

laws/rules/quirks about what they will or will not make available

online. Florida, where I work, is an 'open records' state - which

means, in practice, that we are pretty darn spoiled because the amount

of public information you can access free via the Internet here is

awesome. Not so in other locales, where it can often end up costing

serious money to obtain a document.


But since free is good - particularly in these economic times when

everybody's budget is lean - doesn't it make sense to try fishing for

what you need on the Web before contacting a vendor? And let's face

it... court records are confusing, especially if you don't work with

them regularly. Even if you know your way around the court system in your

state, it is often quite different in other states. And so the Court

Records Free Reference and Directory - provided by Northwest Location

Services ("Finding People Since 1990") - is a valuable resource:

   Access to trial court records varies from state to state, and many

   trial courts offer online access to court records or court case

   information through statewide judiciary or individual court

   websites. Use CourtReference.com to find online court records and

   contact information for trial courts in every state and county. To

   help make a search for court records more targeted and effective,

   CourtReference.com also offers a summary chart of the types of

   cases heard by each type of court in each state, as well as more

   detailed information about the jurisdiction of each type of court.


   CourtReference.com lists links to online court record search

   services offered by statewide trial courts, individual trial

   courts and government agencies. In addition, there are links to

   other online legal resources from courts, government agencies, bar

   associations and non-profit legal services organizations.

   Statewide and local links include online access to court records,

   online court case information, court dockets, court calendars,

   published court orders, legal information, legal research, self-

   help tools, online court forms, court services, online payment

   services for court fines and fees, free legal services and lawyer

   referral services. Links to online legal resources offered by

   individual courts are listed in the Court Directory, with court

   location and court contact information for every state and county.


Basically, all you have to do here is choose a state and click. Voila!

You get a nicely written and formatted guide to that state's court

system. At the top of each page, you will find a few search options -

a dropdown menu that offers directories of courts by county; a search

box that helps you find court records by town or zip code; a dropdown

menu that helps you locate court resources by category (e.g., case

records, dockets, opinions, online fine payments, etc.); and, finally,

a dropdown menu that allows you to hop to a different state page.


Note that there is a 'Public Records Search' form directly below these

options; this is basically an advertisement for Intelius, which is a

pay service.


Keep scrolling down the page for a brief, lucid explanation of the

state's court system. At the bottom of the page is a useful chart that

tells you where to find which kinds of cases. Keep in mind that you

will not necessarily have Web access to these documents, but at least

you will have some idea of where you should be looking.


You might also be interested in the Court Records Blog associated with

this resource.


And these folks offer a Free Public Records Directory:


   Use of our links is absolutely free , although some state or

   county agencies may charge fees for accessing public records. All

   links indicate whether online public records searches are

   available for free, as paid services, or not available online.

   Where no online search options are available, we attempt to

   provide contact information for the appropriate agency.


It has its own associated blog, as well as a discussion forum that is

organized by state.


Bonus Resource: Court Records Free Reference and Directory is oriented

toward state courts. Interested in federal courts? Bookmark this one:

+ A Journalist's Guide to the Federal Courts


   Federal judges and the journalists who cover them share much

   common ground. One clear area of mutual interest is accurate and

   informed coverage of federal courts. A Journalist's Guide to the

   Federal Courts is intended to assist reporters assigned to court



   There are justifiable and distinct differences between

   the three branches of government and the access they grant the

   news media. Most of the work of federal courts is performed in

   open court and decisions, and in most cases court filings are

   available on the Internet. This primer is aimed at helping

   reporters who cover federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy

   courts - the cases, the people, and the process.


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