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What are the Different Types of Circuit Court Records?

By Lori Smith
Updated May 17, 2024
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Circuit court records are generally available for public perusal in common law jurisdictions. The materials contained in any given file may include docketing information, motions, depositions, rulings and transcripts for civil, criminal or family court proceedings. The reasons people may want to examine circuit court records vary. Attorneys, paralegals and law students may wish to review these documents so they can gather information for research purposes. The public may just want to satisfy curiosity, review information about their own trials or obtain certified copies of previous judgments for an upcoming case that has been reopened.

Criminal cases involving felony crimes are often heard in a circuit court. A jury or bench trial may be conducted, and a verdict is ultimately rendered. If a defendant is found guilty of a crime, he may wish to appeal the decision with the assistance of his attorney. Certain information that is contained in circuit court records may prove to be very important to a defendant's case.

For example, if during the course of a criminal trial, a defense attorney made a particular motion and the judge ruled unfavorably, the lawyer might need to obtain the certified transcript of the court proceedings. He may believe that the judge erred in his ruling or another form of injustice occurred. In some cases, he can appeal to a higher court and request that a decision be overturned. He may also ask for a new trial if he has a legal reason for doing so. In order to prove his claim, a defense attorney might need copies of the documents contained within the circuit court records to assist an appellant judge in making an appropriate, legal ruling.

Transcripts and other pertinent documents are also maintained for family law cases involving divorce and other issues. Anything that is submitted to the court by either party is typically contained within circuit court records. For example, if two people are getting a divorce, they may be required to complete financial affidavits to show proof of their income. Copies of these documents are housed within the file that contains all of the information about their particular case.

At any time, if either person wants to review the information, they can usually request access to it. In most cases, he or she can ask the court for certified copies of specific documents from the file. This is typical in cases that are being reopened for the purpose of modification or when an individual simply loses his or her copy of a final judgment. Regardless of the reason for the request, circuit court records are usually easy to obtain in most common law jurisdictions.

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