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Case Records Get More Mobile

March 28th, 2015 · 1 Comment

Just a few years ago, some courts started making court records and calendars available via mobile apps; we talked about it here. Those services required an iOS, Android, or BlackBerry app to be downloaded to your mobile device.

Since we last covered this topic, more court systems have offered mobile app access to their case records, calendars, and other information. Examples abound:

In Illinois, the Cook County Clerk of Circuit Court offers downloadable iOS and Android apps that include case record searches, traffic ticket searches, court location information and mapping, a fee schedule, and contact information.

In Ohio, the Toledo Municipal Court court calendar and fine payment app that our previous post said was on the way has arrived. Even better, it also includes a case record search. From the Clerk of Court’s website, you can still run a traditional website search for case records and schedules, or online fine payments, from links in the left column. But you can get the same information via a web app, which you can download from a link in the right column.

The above services require an app download. Some court systems are now offering mobile searches via a web app, which does not require a download and can be used by any device. For example:

In Pennsylvania, Philadephia’s Court of Common Pleas still offers downloadable iOS and Android apps to access upcoming hearing lists and docket entries for civil cases. But it also offers a web app (no download required) to access hearing lists for upcoming criminal cases.

Kansas’s statewide District Court case records search is now optimized for mobile use; no app download is required, and the results are the same for all devices – but the service does require payment per search or by subscription, regardless of device.

Finally, South Carolina’s Charleston County Clerk of Courts now offers case record searches via a no-download web app called Court Plus. Just go to the website on your smartphone, tablet, or PC and run your search. You can search Charleston County Circuit Court and Family Court records by party name, case number, or attorney’s bar number. You don’t even have to register – but if you do, you get access to enhanced services such as notifications or the ability to create a list of “favorite” cases. (I’m not sure how one decides that a case is a “favorite” but at least they don’t ask you to “like” a case!)

Note that you can also search Charleston County Family Court cases using a traditional website. The information provided by the two services is not identical; the traditional website search provides more information about events in the case, while the Court Plus web app provides more information about individual filings. You can also search Charleston County Circuit Court cases on the South Carolina Judicial Department’s statewide public index website.

As you can see, access to court records, calendars, and other court information is expanding and being made available to devices other than your desktop PC. It seems like only a few years ago that the only access was a search of hardcopy documents in file drawers in your local court clerk’s office. To keep up with the latest developments in court information access, keep an eye on CourtReference.

→ 1 CommentTags: Court Calendars · Court Systems · Courtreference.com · Finding Court Records · Illinois · Kansas · News · Ohio · Pennsylvania · South Carolina · Technology

More Online Court Options

February 28th, 2015 · No Comments

Just a little over two years ago, we reported on a new trend in some courts: allowing people to fight their traffic tickets by mail. That was a departure from the traditional choices of paying your ticket, or having to go to court in person to fight it. Yet only two months later, we reported on a newer trend in some courts: allowing people go fight their parking tickets online. Tellingly, we closed that post with the observation that “[a]s with any innovation that makes life easier, more are sure to follow. ”

In the last two years, much more has followed. In the traffic ticket post, we noted a few Washington State courts that allowed ticket contests by mail; now there are many more. Along with the increased use of hearings by mail, several Washington courts now allow hearing requests to be submitted by e-mail – not only for parking tickets, but also for traffic tickets and other minor offenses. These minor offenses are called “infractions” in Washington. In order to respond to an infraction ticket, you can of course choose to simply pay the fine. But you can also request a mitigation hearing to explain the circumstances in hopes of convincing the judge to reduce the charges; or you can request a contested hearing in hopes of getting the charge dismissed.

The procedure adopted by many Washington courts starts with an online form on the court’s website, which you fill out with your contact information and a statement as to why you think the ticket should be reduced or dismissed. This form generates an e-mail which is sent to the court; the court then makes a decision and replies via e-mail. Some examples include Clallam County District Court,  Douglas County District Court, and Cheney Municipal Court.

Spokane County District Court even has an “eDeferral” program: You can request a deferral of your traffic ticket online; if granted, and you complete traffic school and stay ticket-free for a year, the charge will be dismissed. All this without leaving the comfort of your keyboard or touchscreen. Thurston County District Court even allows online deferral requests for non-traffic offenses, in addition to its online mitigation hearing request.

But wait! There’s more! If you are within the Jurisdiction of Pierce County District Court, you can request a mitigation or contested hearing by mail for an infraction, schedule a court date for an infraction, petition for an anti-harassment order or name change, and even start a small claims case – all online. Once you start a petition or small claims filing online, you can stop in the middle and then go back and finish it later. You can check the status online too.

Check CourtReference for your own state, county, and court, and check our Online Resources links (or the court’s own website) to see if your local court offers any of these technological time-savers.

→ No CommentsTags: Court Systems · Courtreference.com · Technology · Washington

A New Type of Court Record

January 28th, 2015 · No Comments

CourtReference loves court records. Each of our state guides has links to many different kinds of court-related resources, but the most popular are the links to online court records. If your court doesn’t have records online – or if you need to see the original hardcopy – each CourtReference state guide provides contact information for every trial court in the state, so you can locate the court and arrange to see the records.

We like to talk about court records on this blog too; we’ve covered the things you need to know about court records here, the many new court record resources being added here and here, technology and access issues here, tips for name searches here, and misconceptions about court records (including which are free and which are not) here.

We like court records so much that we’re always on the lookout for new ones, and more and more courts are putting their records online. We like to see new types of records too. Brief reports of procedural events are fine, but images of actual court documents are even better.

How about online recordings of court hearings? They have recently become available for some municipal courts in Washington State. They are provided by a private company, but they’re free to users. Here’s an example from the City of Bothell WA. Note that these audio sessions are not searchable by party name, case number, or other typical court record search options. But if you know the date of the case you’re interested in, you can listen to that day’s proceedings and it’s almost like being in the courtroom.

We have links to these on our Washington Courts Guide’s “Search Court Case Records” category page; just scroll down to King County to find links to five Municipal Courts’ audio sessions.

→ No CommentsTags: Courtreference.com · Finding Court Records · New Sites · Technology · Washington