Public Access to Court Info

Public Access to Court Info

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Public Access to Court Info
When attempting to conduct research on prior cases or judicial actions, it is important to know what public access to court info is available.  The public is generally permitted to see almost all decisions made in a court of law.  However, there may be some types of lawsuits or cases handled by a court in which the public is not entitled to view the final conclusion. 
The following are examples of court information the public is entitled to review:
1. Any court decisions, in which a case is resolved through a jury verdict or final decision by a judge, can be viewed by the public.  A court may require a reasonable fee, however copies must be made available to the public.
2. Most courts must provide access to pleadings and other legal documents filed by private individuals in a court of law.  While some sensitive materials, such as top secret government documents or victim information in sexual crime cases may be blocked, the public is generally allowed access to this court info.
While the above are ways in which the public can access court info, below are some examples of court info that cannot be obtained by the public:
1. Any private settlement, in which the court did not make the final decision, is not publicly accessible by the public.  These settlements are instead private agreements between the two parties and are not considered actions of the court.
2.  Certain criminal convictions, which are done under seal, block public access to the court info.  Generally, these are minor criminal records that have passed a certain amount of time.  These criminal records are blocked from public view.  

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