The different types of state court records include civil and criminal case records, court dockets, and civil judgments, as well as verdicts in criminal trials. Many state court records are archived in online databases that include pending and closed cases. Electronic records are often only available as far as a certain date, but older records are made available to the public during the court clerk’s business hours. The clerk’s office is also responsible for redacting personal information that’s included in the court documents, such as social security numbers and other confidential records. Individuals who want to find records often need the names of plaintiffs or defendants or the case file number.
Civil and criminal case records consist of various legal pleadings filed with the court, trial transcripts, and court orders. Criminal case records will contain jury verdicts as well as other materials submitted to the court in connection to the case. For example, a case record may contain documents that were submitted by an expert witness to establish a party’s liability in a civil matter. Some of the pleadings that are often included in case records include complaints, answers, and motions. A motion is a written document prepared and submitted by attorneys or pro se litigants asking the court to make a ruling or to issue an order.
Court dockets are state court records that contain information about all of the pleadings and documents that were filed with a case. Dockets also list the legal proceedings for each case, including trial dates and motion hearings. Clerks often list the information in chronological order, which requires individuals searching the docket to either have the case number or the name of one of the parties to a case. Some jurisdictions only provide court docket information for civil and not criminal cases. External legal subscription services may also provide court docket information to the public for a fee.
Civil judgments are often included in state court records, and they can be searched by the public on the court’s website, in person at the court, or through a legal subscription service. A judgment is the court’s decision in a case, and it’s a written document that is included in the case record and the court’s records of judgments. Criminal verdicts are searchable as well, and these legal documents state whether defendants were found guilty or not guilty in the criminal trials that the court heard. Employers, financial institutions, and individuals filing a lawsuit often research judgments or verdicts to obtain background information on people they want to learn more about.