Many people find themselves curious about court records. Sometimes, it is just idle curiosity. Sometimes, it is a potential employer or other interested party who wants more details concerning a court case which effects them. After all, even major court cases may be decided well after media attention dies down, and the resulting records are simply published and forgotten about. Additionally, many persons wish to know more about the legal history of a person, especially if the person may have been less than good.
Historically however, persons curious about court records faced an uphill battle. The records were often poorly stashed at remote courthouses with little or no organization. Additionally, it ranged from difficult to impossible to look up court records in other states. Luckily, times have changed and court records are now widely available online. The development of this modern technology has rendered the problem of hard-to-find records relatively obsolete, though of course online technology isn’t perfect.
Currently, all state and federal courts are required to publish their records online and not charge for this service, excepting those legal decisions with national security or secrecy concerns. However, the nature and location of publishing vary from state to state. As such, a person looking to root through court records should consider visiting their local law library, or visiting a nearby college campus’s law department. There they will find that there are law librarians and law computers which can help them navigate the nuanced and obtuse nature of court records to find the ones they want. They may also be able to help explain the legal decision and the “legalese” it is written in.
There are also many free services on the internet which look to help a person obtain court records. Additionally, state-run websites may offer ways to help someone look through the court records of that state. There are also for-pay services, and while they claim to offer superior service, many are simply offering for pay what the state and other websites offer for free. Therefore a person looking to search through court records should be wary of such sites, which may charge exorbitant fees simply to give someone a look at what is readily available for free. Still, those who wish to look up court records regarding specific persons, rules or decisions can find those records readily available online and are encouraged to use websites or librarians to assist them in finding the relevant cases.