Judicial Records California: How to Get Free Judicial Records in the State of California?
The California Rules of Court have established a number of provisions applicable to judicial records and their access to the citizens of the state. The Rules of Court include appellate courts, trial courts, state courts, the Supreme Court of California, and the Judicial Council of the state. You can request for and inspect any judicial records under this rule unless the courts have specifically made some records exempt. Your right of access is not guaranteed, and the courts may seal records according to their discretion.
You can access docket information, the motions of a party in a lawsuit, their pleadings, the evidence produced by either party, the order and final decision of the court, and written transcripts. You can also access search and arrest warrants, statements of victims, probation officer reports, details of a settlement agreement if any, and the testimony of the grand jury. The testimony will also include details of the convict's indictment if they were found guilty.
- Some records are filed away as sealed and exempt by the courts, including:
- Records of mental evaluation
- Adoption and foster care records
- Grand jury testimonies that do not convict or indict the individual
- Secrets on trade and commerce
- Discovery records
- Court records involving victims or criminals who were minors
- Disclosing the details of the case can greatly affect the defendant's safety or their right to a fair trial
- One or both the parties have an interest in keeping the particulars of the case sealed; the concern of the concerned parties far outweighs the public interest
Requesting judicial administrative records
A judicial administrative record is classified as any information that relates to the conduct of people's business. Judicial administrative records include contracts, policies, procedures, expenditure records, and budget expenses. You can request access to judicial administrative records from the Judicial Council of California by filling out this form and sending it to the following address via fax, mail, or email.
Public Access to Judicial Administrative Records
Legal Services / Leadership Services
455 Golden Gate Avenue, 5th Floor, California 94102- 3688, San Francisco.
(415) 865- 7796
(415) 865- 4272
The council has to give you a response within 10 days. The 10 day period can only be extended to 14 days, but not more than that. All records will become available to you, except for the ones exempt by law.
Each superior court in California also keeps its administrative records. To access the judicial administrative records of a particular court, you can either contact them in-person or request the records online. The way you can request records differs according to the way each court houses its information.
Requesting case records
To access records of a specific case in California, you have to contact the court where the document was originally filed. You will find the following information in individual courts:
- Case records, including filings, complaints, opinions, and briefs
- Information and assistance on Jury service
- Records of name changes
- Inheritance records, including will testaments, conservatorships, and estate records
- Records of traffic violations such as tickets
- Divorce records
If you are not given access to the requested records, you can ask the clerk for the order stipulating the sealing of the records. If this order does not exist, you are being wrongfully denied of the record. Conversely, if such as order exists, you can move to court to challenge this decision. If the court feels like your request is legitimate and that you will not misuse the information found in the records, they will grant you access to the records.
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