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Are Utah Court Records Public?

Yes, court records in Utah are public unless they are confidential or exempt from public disclosure. Most documents created by Utah courts are open for inspection and copying. The Utah Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA), enacted in 1991, permits public access to public records of government bodies at all levels. There are no limitations to the use of public records, and anyone can request them for their repositories without stating the purpose of the inquiry. Some documents are, however, exempt from this Act. Private information of government employees and individuals, records that have the potential of causing security issues if released, and health records of individuals are all exempt.

In Utah, most Appellate, Justice, and District Court records are public. Private court records can only be inspected and copied by the subject of the court records, their legal representatives, and a few other people. Some examples of private court records in Utah are medical records, petitions for divorce, adult guardianship, and motions for temporary orders in child custody cases. Other court records are closed from public disclosure in Utah. They include protected, sealed, and juvenile records. Rule of Judicial Administration 4-202.02(5), Rule of Judicial Administration 4-202.02(4), and Utah Rule of Judicial Administration 4-202.03(5) provides complete lists of each of these records, respectively.

What Shows Up on a Utah Court Records Search

Utah court records are formal written or digital records of what transpired during a trial or hearing. Various courts generate and maintain them and often consist of order or judgment books, case files, record books, docket books (also known as the register of actions), minute books (or journals), and record books.

There are several categories in which court records in Utah can be found, including public, private, sealed, and protected records. Most judicial, district, and appellate court documents are available to the public. Public records are available for anyone to view and copy under the Rule of Judicial Administration 4-202.02(2). Several judicial and court records, including those of the Utah State Supreme Court and numerous county district courts, are kept in the Utah State Archives. The archives also have records for justice, municipal, and probate courts. Agencies that create current documents still have access to the records they produce, including the Court of Appeals.

A person who wants to conduct a court records search may consult authorized custodians and repositories owned by the government of Utah, like the Utah State Archives, Court of Appeals, and District Court, which have been set up to enable individuals to access and study court records. Users can search a court record using a party name, case type, case number, type of court record, and jurisdiction, among others.

Judiciary records can be a valuable resource for studies of judicial administration, business, and corporate history. Instances of declarations of intention, applications for naturalization, depositions, and certificates of naturalization are frequently found in the district courts' records, which are important for genealogy research and demographic and immigration studies.

How Do I Find Court Records in Utah?

The first step to take when trying to obtain court records in Utah is to find out the courthouse and court type keeping such records. Utah uses a court case management system known as XChange. XChange maintains and makes available some Utah court records to interested persons. This case management system, however, provides access to public court records only. It is accessible at most district courthouses and by paid subscription. Some Justice Court locations may also offer free public access to XChange.

How to Obtain Court Records of District and Justice Courts

Records of cases handled by the District and Justice Courts are available at most district courthouses. Interested persons may verify the availability of free public XChange terminals from the District Court or the Justice Court. Otherwise, they may use the XChange paid subscription to find the records of interest. Xchange displays public record information as entered into the Courts Information System (CORIS) by court staff in the courthouses with the custody of such records. It provides information such as parties' names, documents filed, parties' addresses (only if available), hearings held, and assigned judges. Other information on court records captured by XChange are the judgments entered and the outcome of completed cases. Generally, XChange does not return any information on court records not open to public inspection. Besides the courthouses, free public Xchange access is available at the Utah State Law Library.

XChange search results on any district and justice records typically display the following data:

  • County home to the court where the record is kept
  • Court location
  • Case type
  • Case number
  • Filing date
  • First and last names
  • Birth Date
  • Party code
  • Case history

Interested persons can search district and justice court records on XChange using party names, business names, and dates. Note that a user account is required to use XChange. Users who are having trouble using the system can contact the Administrator via email using the word Xchange as the subject of the mail.

Interested persons can search district and justice court records on XChange using party names, business names, and dates. Note that a user account is required to use XChange. Users who are having trouble using the system can contact the Administrator via email using the word Xchange as the subject of the mail.

How to Obtain Appellate Court Records

Persons who are interested in finding Appellate Court records in Utah can do so by visiting the appellate clerk's office or using the Appellate Docket Search. A case's docket number must be known to use the docket search option. An Appellate docket number is an eight-digit number and must be entered correctly in the search field. The Appellate Docket Search provides records of the Appellate Court cases from 1986 to date. Contact the office of the appellate clerk to obtain any document not available on the database. The contact information and physical address of the Utah State Appellate Clerk's Office are:

450 South State Street, 5th Floor
Salt Lake City, UT 84114
Phone: (801) 578-3900

Once an Appellate Court case is closed, its original briefs are moved to the Utah State Law Library, Utah State Archives, Brigham Young University law library, and the University of Utah law library. Interested persons can obtain such briefs from these locations, as indicated below:

  • Utah State law library has Supreme Court 1929 and 1940s, docket # 4922-4932 and 6190, and Court of Appeals 1986 to date briefs
  • Utah State Archives has Supreme Court 1888-1961 briefs.
  • Brigham Young University Howard W. Hunter law library has Supreme Court 1895 to date and Court of Appeals 1986 to date briefs.
  • The University of Utah James E. Faust law library holds Supreme Court 1895 to date and Court of Appeals 1986 to date original briefs.

How to Conduct a Utah Court Record Search by Name

Court record name-based searches can be conducted online by visiting the official Utah Courts website. A Utah Court record search by name is majorly conducted through the provided online third-party website. This can be located in the court records section on the website.

In order to retrieve variations on the name and any occasions in which a middle initial may have been used, anyone who wants to do a name-based search for Utah court records must first enter the last name while inputting the first name with an asterisk.

How to Get Court Records Online for Free

The court's third-party online management system makes public district and justice court case information accessible. Individuals may obtain public district and justice court records at no cost via:

  • District Courthouses: Court records using the third-party website may be accessed for free at most district courthouses and justice courts in Utah. To confirm that access to the third-party website is free in a courthouse, record seekers can get in touch with the district or justice court.
  • Utah State Library: Free access to the third-party website may also be obtained at the Utah State Library.

However, PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) charges a modest fee for every page downloaded or viewed online.

Considered open to citizens of the United States, court records are available through both traditional, government sources, and through third-party websites and organizations. In many cases, third-party websites make the search easier as they are not limited geographically or by technological limitations. They are considered a good place to start when looking for a specific record or multiple records. In order to gain access to these records, interested parties must typically provide:

  • The name of the person listed in the record. Juveniles are typically exempt from this search method.
  • The last known or assumed location of the person listed in the record. This includes cities, counties, and states.

While third-party sites offer such services, they are not government sponsored entities, and record availability may vary on these sites when compared to government sources.

What Shows Up on Utah Judgment Records?

Judgment records in Utah are documents that show the outcome of a lawsuit. Generally, judgments are based on a jury's verdict or a judge's examination of case facts and issued based on applicable state laws.

Court clerks are responsible for entering the judgment into the court docket and maintaining the custody of the judgment record. Interested members of the public may obtain copies of these records per the Utah Government Records Access and Management Act.

To obtain the judgment record in a case, visit the clerk's office in person during business hours and provide the case number and the names of the parties involved in the case. The court administrative staff will also require payment of applicable fees before processing the request. These fees are payable in cash or with money orders, certified checks, and credit cards.

Judgment records vary in content, depending on the case type. Still, the nature of information in Utah judgment records is similar. Persons who obtain Utah judgment records can expect to see the litigants' names, the judge's name, the judge's conclusion on the lawsuit, and the judgment issued per state laws.

Are Utah Bankruptcy Records Public?

Bankruptcy Records are public in the state of Utah. Available records include complex financial data of people, whether individuals, firms, or organizations, who have become insolvent and consequently filed for bankruptcy. The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Utah utilizes a digital audio recording system for court sessions. The Clerk's Office also offers all audio recordings for $32.00. To get a typed transcript of a hearing, the applicant must complete and submit the Notice of Transcript Order Form (Non-Appeal) to the transcriptionist.

Note: If a resident wishes to obtain a transcript for an appealed case, the person must file a transcript order form l with the court and provide a copy to the transcriptionist.

Records of bankruptcy, as well as writs, judgments, and Utah Liens, are maintained and disseminated per the provisions established by Utah's public information act. Interested parties may view or copy these documents by contacting a record custodian in the jurisdiction where the petition was filed for execution.

How to Find Bankruptcy Records in Utah

Individuals seeking bankruptcy records may obtain them through the following methods:

  • Bankruptcy Court: Requests for records can be made via mail and sent to the clerk's office or in person at the courthouse at:

Frank E. Moss US Courthouse
350 South Main Street, 3rd Floor
Salt Lake City, UT 84101

  • Making use of the public computer at the courthouse
  • Registering for a PACER account and accessing case data using a personal computer
  • Calling an automated service called McVCIS by phone.

Individuals seeking to acquire bankruptcy court records may conduct a search by case number, party name, Social Security number, or tax identification number.

Can You Look Up Court Cases in Utah?

Yes. There are various options for performing a Utah court case lookup. Generally, interested persons may visit the court locations where such proceedings are being tried and look them up. Looking up court cases at courthouses, however, usually attract nominal charges. Similarly, most courts in the counties maintain court case search portals on their websites where anyone can find their case of interest. The Appellate Docket Search portal contains the Appellate Court cases. Members of the public must know cases' docket numbers to be able to look up court cases on this portal.

Utah Court Case Lookup Exemptions

The vast majority of court records in Utah, including those from district and appellate courts, are generally accessible to members of the public. However, there are court records that are not accessible to members of the public; they are:

  • Private Records: These records can only be seen and copied by the parties involved, their attorneys, and a select few individuals. Many instances of private documents include:
    • Divorce petition
    • Protective order request
    • Adult guardianship petition
    • Motion to waive fees
    • Motion to waive the waiting period for divorce
    • Child custody case motion for temporary orders
    • Impact statement for victims' records
    • Medical record

Individuals seeking more information on private court records may obtain it at the Rule of Judicial Administration 4-202.02(3)

  • Sealed Records: Information concerning the existence of the case is not made public in these types of situations. A court must be asked for permission to unseal records if someone wants access to them. Sealed records include:
    • Adoption records
    • Expungement records

More information on sealed records may be obtained at the Rule of Judicial Administration 4-202.02(4)

  • Protected Records: A lawyer's work product, records protected by the attorney-client privilege, court security plans, and some private corporate records fall under this category. The Rule of Judicial Administration 4-202.02(5) contains the full list of records that are protected in Utah.
  • Juvenile Court Records: Juvenile court records are not open to the public. They are divided into two groups: legal records and social records. Who has access to a record depends on its type. The Utah Rule of Judicial Administration 4-202.03(5) possesses the full information on confidential juvenile court records.

How to Find a Court Docket in Utah

A Utah court docket is a formal document that keeps track of several cases by providing a concise listing of forthcoming court hearings and filings so that they may be easily identified. The majority of court dockets typically include a docket number, the case's history, the decision date, the name of the court the case is currently in, the questions raised in the case, and the names of the parties, judges and attorneys of record. In general, court dockets are regarded as public documents.

The information found in dockets and court filings occasionally helps academics better understand why a court produced a specific decision or opinion, even if these resources are not regarded as "case law" and do not have precedential value. There are public access computers in the clerk's office through which members of the public may search for court docket records. From those terminals, dockets and case documents can be printed.

Types of Courts in Utah

The Supreme Court and Court of Appeals are the two appellate courts in the Utah State Court System. The District, Juvenile, and Justice Courts are the trial courts. The Judicial Council and the Administrative Office of the Court are the two administrative bodies. Each of the state's eight judicial districts houses a district court as well as juvenile and justice courts:

  • Supreme Court: Utah's Supreme Court, sometimes known as the "Court of Last Resorts," is presided over by five justices who each hold a 10-year term. It hears appeals from all district court civil cases - aside from instances involving domestic relations - as well as capital and first-degree felony proceedings. The Judicial Conduct Commission's hearings, lawyer disciplinary actions, and constitutional and election-related disputes are also within the Supreme Court's purview.
  • Court of Appeals: Usually, seven judges with six-year tenure preside over the Court of Appeals for Utah. All appeals from district courts and juvenile courts involving domestic violence and criminal offenses lower than a first-degree felony are heard by the Court of Appeals. A first-degree felony criminal case may also be heard by it, along with any other cases that the Supreme Court transfers to it.
  • District Court: The District Court is the state trial court with general jurisdiction, presided over by 77 judges and 10 court commissioners. Some of the cases heard are:
    • Civil cases
    • Domestic relations cases
    • Probate cases
    • Criminal cases
    • Small claims cases
    • Appeals from Justice Courts
  • Justice Court: Justice Courts are locally funded and run courts made up of 77 judges and spread out over Utah. It hears the following cases, among others:
    • Class B and Class C misdemeanor cases
    • Traffic and parking infractions
    • Small claims cases
    • Violations of local ordinances
  • Juvenile Court: Juvenile Court is a state court with jurisdiction over minors under the age of 18 who break a state or local law. It is presided over by 30 judges. Every matter involving a child who has been mistreated, neglected, or who is dependent falls under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court.

Civil vs Small Claims Courts in Utah: Understanding the Difference

Utah Small Claims Courts are a division of Justice Courts where anyone may sue another person or a business for claims of $11,000 or less. An individual who sues is called the plaintiff, while a sued person is known as the defendant. Defendants and plaintiffs do not have to get legal representation in Utah small claims cases. Court rulings in small claims cases can only award monetary judgments. The prevalent small claim cases in Utah include wage claims, landlord-tenant matters, car accidents, and tatty repair services. Generally, any individual can file a civil lawsuit that can be settled by a money judgment of not more than $11,000.

Parties involved in a small claims case may appeal a court judgment, although it is not entirely an appeal but a new trial. Such a request must be filed with the justice court that gave the previous rulings within 28 calendar days after judgment or dismissal. This is known as trial de novo. A District Court Judge hears small claims appeal at a courthouse within the county where the small claims trial was held. It takes an average of 45 days to get a judgment in Utah small claims cases.

A plaintiff can only file a small claims case where the defendant lives or where the basis of such a case originated. The filing fee for claims of $2,000 or less is $60, more than $2,000 but less than $7,500 is $100, while between $7,500 and $11,000 is $185. The filing fee for an appeal is small claims is $235.

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