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What are Idaho Civil Court Records?
Idaho civil court records are public records that contain information on cases filed, tried, and determined before the state’s civil courts. These records include general case information as well as details of summons, notice, orders, dockets, citations, waivers, motions, pleadings, sworn affidavit, witness testimonies, disposition, and other related information connected with civil court proceedings. Pursuant to Idaho Public Records Laws, interested members of the public may inspect these records upon request. However, in some cases, all or portions of a record may be considered confidential by law. Hence, the availability status is limited to only authorized individuals.
Cases Heard by Idaho Civil Courts
The Idaho State Judicial body hears a variety of cases. The court system is classified into specialized branches each handling specific cases with varying jurisdiction. The civil divisions of the state courts deal with cases that are non-criminal in nature, particularly personal controversies and disputes arising between individuals, business corporations and institutions. Some cases heard in the civil courts include:
- Disputes relating to a breach of contract
- Cases involving negligence that lead to injury or death
- Tort injuries or damage to properties
- Disputes involving libels, slanders, and defamation of character
- Cases involving civil rights infringement, tax suits, immigration, labor, and social securities
- Cases arising as a result of Property condemnation, intellectual property theft, forfeiture of property, or bankruptcy
- Employment matters involving workers compensation
- Prisoner’s civil rights cases and petitions
- Disputes arising from other statutes such as consumer complaints, etc.
Most civil cases in the state are heard in an open setting. Grounded in the Idaho State Constitution, the trial courts or “courts of first instance” are responsible for handling all civil cases, although unsatisfactory verdicts may be overruled by the appellate level courts.
Who can Access Civil Court Records in the State of Idaho?
In accordance with the Idaho Public Records Act (Section 74-102), all civil court records are presumed to be public unless otherwise defined by statute or court rule. The rule allows members of the public to view, inspect, and collect copies of civil records maintained by the state’s courts in varying capacities. However, some records are rendered confidential and as such, excluded from public scrutiny. Civil court records are generated and managed in the specific judicial district court or magistrate court where the case was handled. The clerk of the court serves as the official record personnel responsible for keeping and disseminating copies of court records upon request by interested parties.
What Information is Contained in an Idaho Civil Court Record?
The information contained in a full civil court record is determined by the documents generated before and during a civil case hearing. Other determinant factors include the civil procedures ordered by the sitting judge(s) as well as the jury formation. The broad or general case information are characteristically similar among cases and includes:
- Biodata detailing the names and personal information of the parties to the case
- The case filing date and headline
- Case information (court type, court location, case number, case type, case status)
- Case overview/ summary
- The names of assigned attorney(s) and presiding judge(s) in the case
- hearing dates, time, and location
- Claims and counterclaims
- Date of final disposition/judgment
On the other hand, information specific to a case is what makes the case distinct from others. They include motions, briefs, sworn affidavit, arguments, witness testimonies, plea bargains, proof of evidence, appeals, and other related information brought in court during the civil court hearing.
Understanding The Idaho Civil Court System
The State of Idaho operates a unified court system, organized to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and to carry out the administration of justice in accordance with the rule of law. To carry out the legal duties effectively, the various courts are divided into branches with differing powers and authority. The primary powers of each court are defined by the State Constitution based on hierarchical differences as follows:
- Idaho Supreme Court
- Idaho Court of Appeals
- Idaho Judicial District Courts
- Idaho Magistrate Divisions
- Idaho Small Claims Departments
- Idaho Tribal Courts
The Supreme Court of Idaho is the highest-ranking court in the state. Otherwise known as the court of last instance, it bears the sole power of reviewing civil cases appealed from administrative agencies or lower trial courts. The Supreme Court is also responsible for answering all questions of law as well as establishing administrative rules and guidelines followed by the entire court system. In special cases, the court exercises original jurisdiction over cases such as extraordinary writs, disciplinary actions to legal practitioners, and advisory opinions in claims against the state.
The Idaho Court of Appeals was created to relieve the caseload of the Supreme Court. Composed of 3-paneled judges, the court offers appellate decisions to cases assigned to it by the Supreme Court. However, civil cases within the supreme court’s original jurisdiction are considered exclusive and as such, cannot be heard in the state’s court of appeals. Fundamentally, the appeal court decision is usually final except in rare instances where the Supreme Court accepts a petition to review the pronounced verdict.
The District Courts in the State of Idaho are trial courts of general jurisdiction over major civil and criminal matters. Each of the 41 judicial district judges presides over cases involving civil suits greater than $10,000 monetary values, tort claims involving damage to property or personal injury, as well as contractual disagreements.
The Magistrate Divisions handle less serious civil claims involving monetary loss and damages not exceeding $10,000. The magistrate court judges also hear minor criminal misdemeanors, infractions, probate cases, domestic relations, and juvenile cases.
The Small Claims Departments are the people’s courts; so-called because they handle the most common civil cases in which the public is most familiar. The small claims courts are also managed by the magistrate court judges each sitting to consider civil cases with less than $4,000 in question. These courts also do not require attorney representation and a magistrate’s decision can be appealed to another magistrate if unsatisfactory.
Idaho Tribal Courts are federal courts of exclusive jurisdiction, each handling civil cases between members and non-members of the American Indian tribe.
How to Find Civil Court Records in the State of Idaho
Grounded on the Idaho Public Records Act, interested persons may view, inspect, and make copies of court records on demand. However, some records are sealed or rendered confidential by statute or court rule and thus restricted from public inspection. Public records must be accessible and the court custodians are tasked with providing channels from which the public can gain access to the records. The available methods for obtaining Idaho civil court records include:
- By making in-person requests to the court custodian
- By researching the online databases maintained in the different court websites
- By sending written mail-in requests to the appropriate court
How To Find Idaho Civil Court Records Online?
Adapting to the online judicial system of court administration, the Idaho state judiciary maintains a state-wide online search system from which the public can remotely access civil court records over the internet. This database; otherwise known as the iCourt system features publicly available information while keeping with the restrictions on confidential records. Generally, the online tools and resources featured by the Idaho courts include:
- The Idaho Unified Case Search Portal
- Idaho Supreme Court Hearings Archive
- Idaho Supreme Court Live Oral Arguments, court calendars, and opinions
Idaho Unified Court Case Search Portal (iCourt)
The Supreme Court of Idaho manages the unified case search portal, which allows members of the public the right to access civil court records electronically. A sign-up registration is not required when accessing this online service. However, in cases where compiled court data is requested, registration (by authorized individuals) becomes necessary. Essentially, the iCourt portal reveals the general case information when smart-searched using the case number, the full name of any of the parties involved, or by business name. To render a search by case number, the requesting party is required to input the case number in full or at least enter not less than four characters of the case number. While the complete case number search is precise, the incomplete “wildcard” search turns up all the results of cases bearing similar numerical arrangements.
Similarly, a full name search can be rendered using the last, first, and middle name suffix format. In conditions where the full name is not known, a wildcard search is possible by inputting a minimum of three characters followed by an asterisk (*) for the last name and a minimum of one character followed by another asterisk for the first name. Business names can also be searched using the smart search if the business name includes a comma. To do this accurately, the requester is required to include an asterisk in place of the comma without adding any additional character afterward. Additionally, the advanced filtering options provide an alternative method of rendering a civil case record search effectively. Click and navigate to the search type drop-down menu list; type the name, case number, or business name and then submit.
The Court Reporter of Idaho Supreme court maintains online records of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal oral arguments and court calendars. Opinion dockets including the Supreme Court Civil Opinions and the Court of Appeals Civil Opinions are also managed on the website.
District and magistrate court calendars are also maintained in their respective webpages.
Similarly, publicly available records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels
How to Access Idaho Civil Court Records in Person?
Interested persons may also access civil court records in Idaho by visiting the courthouse in person. Pursuant to the Public Records Law, parts or portions of a record may be unavailable via the online route hence limiting access to such records to in-person physical requests only. To adequately render a record request, the following steps are recommended:
Step 1: Find the Record Custodian
The various court clerks are responsible for generating, managing, and disseminating civil court records. As a standard rule for looking up civil court records in person, the requesting party should locate the custodian of the particular court in which the case was heard. Other relevant factors that may affect the storage site of a record is the status of the case, how long ago the case was closed, and local court storage guidelines. Most small claims civil cases involving $4,000 or less are handled in the small claims courts, civil claims less than $10,000 are heard in the magistrate courts while major civil case records are typically housed in the judicial district courts. Furthermore, old civil court records may be stored in off-site locations for which the requester may be asked to return. Records of cases reviewed by the appellate-level courts may be accessed in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, as well as from the particular district or magistrate court where the case was originally heard.
Step 2: Gather All Relevant Information
After ascertaining the location of the record of interest, inquirers may then proceed to gather case-specific information unique to the case. This relevant information limits the scope of the case search thereby saving time and resources. The court clerks may also have court records retrieval guidelines unique to the court. Essentially, the general case information required for inspecting these records includes the case number, names of the parties involved in the case, the approximate filing date, the date the case was closed, the appellate case number (if applicable), and the name of the presiding judge.
Step 3: Provide Identification and Fee Requirements (If Applicable)
Most often than not, inquirers are not required to provide proof of identification before a record request is processed by the court custodian. However, as established by the Idaho Code §74-102, the clerk of the court may request that the inquirer provide an ID prior to processing some confidential civil court records. Furthermore, as per the Idaho Code §31-3201, the clerk of the district courts charge $1 per page and $1 per seal charge for certifications. Additional search and copying cost fulfillment may be imposed in rare instances where a civil court record request is processed by the court custodian during non-business days and hours. The cost of searching and copying compiled court records are presumed to be covered by the taxpayers. As such, the state’s courts do not charge any fee for the first two hours of search or for copying paper records that are equal to or less than 100 pages. Additional charges may also apply for certified copies. Miscellaneous fees such as parking fees may be requested at the courthouse. Thus, requesters are advised to make adequate financial plans.
Step 4: Make the Request
During normal business days and hours, requestors are required to visit the office of the record custodians with the appropriate documents and information. An appointment schedule is recommended for a prepared visit. Most courthouses provide self-help kiosks and terminals where the record of interest may be viewed and inspected by the requesting party. If the record of interest is not available on the terminal, chances are that the record is sealed, the case is old, or that the requester is looking at the wrong courthouse. The information featured in the public terminals is general case information and if specific details and/or copies are needed, a manual record request form should be filed and necessary fees paid.
How to Obtain Idaho Civil Court Records via Mail?
To obtain civil court records by mail, residents must first establish that the court offers this service. Interested parties can confirm this by contacting the clerk of court using the Idaho County Courthouse Directories or by visiting the particular court’s official webpage. Mailing details, as well as the cost for copying official court records, can be found on most court websites. While the rules vary with different clerks, most courts require a physical address for mailing records. Payment for records may be made by credit card or check. Interested parties are advised to include a self-addressed stamped return envelope. Requesting parties are also required to query the clerk on other requirements limited to the court. Obtaining records by mail may take 3 days to 2 weeks depending on the court and associated difficulty in finding the record.
How To Request Compiled Court Data in Idaho
Compiled court data are aggregate records containing information on more than one individual court record. In accordance with the Idaho Court Administrative Record Rule 32(f), compiled court records are available to all members of the public, if and only if, the sought compilation is not exempt from public disclosure. As with other records, the court custodian is in charge of disseminating these records upon request. The acceptable request modalities are by in-person requests at the courthouse or by electronic mail. To successfully request records of this nature, the requesting party is first required to identify the records of interest while stating the date range of request, how the data may be used, and the targeted population the record may be distributed to. Additionally, the geographical area to be covered in the search should be indicated. In cases where any or parts of the compilation are confidential, the requesting party is required to seek approval from the Supreme Court by stating the purpose of requesting the record, how it may benefit the public at social and/or educational levels as well as the provisions for securing the confidential information.
Generally, the stipulated processing time of compiled court data depends on the volume needed, time of approval, and the confidentiality status of any of the records. As such, data compilation may take several weeks to complete. While keeping to the instructions, the requestor may then proceed to the courthouse in person or send in an email request.
In-person, make an oral or written request depending on the discretion of the court custodian, pay associated costs, provide proof of identification, and a work phone number. By email, complete and submit the Compiled Data Request Form to firstname.lastname@example.org
How to Access Sealed Civil Court Records in Idaho
Sealed civil court records in the state are records deemed confidential by the Idaho Court Administrative Rule. There are various conditions that may lead to automatic or eventual sealing of a civil court record. In many cases, parts or all of the records containing sensitive information are automatically sealed by state statutes. Additionally, persons who meet the conditions and eligibility criteria may also petition the court to have specific records sealed for a reasonable cause. While access to these records is generally restricted from the public, some persons such as parties to the case, the representative attorneys, law enforcement personnel, some court personnel, etc are furnished with the legal authority to inspect these records at will. Also, any member of the public with sufficient reason can petition the court judges for a court order or subpoena indicating the permission to have the record(s) of interest released to them. For a petition to be granted by Idaho state-licensed judges, the requester must provide sufficient reasons and evidence indicating the record's relevance in a legal matter.
Are all Idaho Civil Court Records Online?
The state of Idaho features an Odyssey case management system/database which is yet to be extensively utilized by all counties in the state. A straightforward answer to the question is No, all Idaho civil court records are not available online. Confidential records are subjected to a great degree of authorization scrutiny, as such online availability is not possible. Furthermore, some sensitive information such as social security numbers, passwords, etc is restricted from online public inspection to ensure the safety of the parties to the records. The information available online include:
- Case details - date, trial outcome, nature of the case, name of the presiding judge
- Biodata of the plaintiff(s) and the defendant(s) as well as any associated attorneys (if available)
- Financial summary information including all fees paid as regards to the case
- A detailed register of actions featuring all actions prior to, during, and after the case is closed