Because of the Freedom of Information Act that was established in 1967 gaining public access to court information has become easier. The act gives the public the right to request and access records from any federal agency. There some exemptions to the rule and if the record falls under one of the nine exceptions that were established by Congress that information is not required to be released to the public.
How to find public access to court information from your state
Every state has court information that is available to the public. Finding these records are not as hard as you would think because most data is now searchable online from Judicial branch websites, search services, sheriff websites and more. The county clerk has a big job with many different facets of day to day operations. One of those tasks is to keep track and file public record data for future use. The clerk’s responsibility will be to get record weather in paper or digital form filed and kept safe.
Use google to find the case search in the state you want
Google is a good tool in finding the correct judicial branch or another courthouse that the record could be found at. Here is how to do it.
Google: “California Court Case Search” Change the state to the state you’re looking to access public court information from. Keep in mind that not all courts will have online searching. But that is okay. If you are at an official courthouse website search for links that say:
- Online Searching
- Online public record search
- Search court case files
- Search court dockets
When searching and you cannot find an online search method then you should contact the courthouse directly by phone or email and ask what methods they have for viewing public access to court information. You may have to visit the courthouse directly or the clerk can guide you another way to search digitally.
Try a search service
Try using a search service to find public access to court information directly online. This is a simple and effective way to find all types of court data and records. Names are run against federal, state, and county data sources online from around the United States.
Reports are confidential and depending on what search service you use reports can be run unlimited amounts of time within a certain time period. Because of this, using a search service is an essential part of finding public data for the general public.
Try PACER Case Locator
PACER is an electronic public access service that users can use to gain access to case and docket information online from a district, federal, and bankruptcy courts. Databases are updated on a nightly basis. There is also a cost associated with using PACER.
A single document is capped at $3.00. Case information cost 0.10 per page. Keep in mind that just like other public record services some information is not available. Certain data could be redacted or removed by law.
Gaining access to court information is not as difficult as it once was when a trip in person was the only way to scan and view court documents. Now, anyone can view court information directly from a PC, smartphone, or tablet from anywhere an internet connection is made.
Using one of the above methods will allow for viewing of public records, It may not be a bad idea to use multiple methods above to build a complete report on someone’s background.