Colorado Civil Court Records
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What are Colorado Civil Court Records?
Colorado Civil Court Records are official reports of cases decided at the state’s civil courts during its judicial proceedings. These records are maintained in case files and encompass various information such as transcripts, tapes of depositions, motions, petitions, briefs, order, judgment, minute order, docket sheets, calendars, and other similar documents written or recorded digitally as part of the civil court’s deliberative process. Interested members of the public may find Colorado civil court records in the jurisdiction where the case was heard. However, pursuant to the Colorado Court Records Policy, any court record not sealed by statute or court rule may be accessed, viewed, and copied by the public upon request. Essentially, it is the due diligence of the court clerk to respond to these requests.
Cases Heard by Colorado’s Civil Court
Civil cases in the state of Colorado include all kinds of legal actions that are non-criminal in nature as it applies to the settlement of disputes between private citizens and entities. Therefore, cases heard by the state’s civil courts may include all breach of contract cases, disputes involving negligence that resulted in injury or death, family-related cases, tort claims, landlord-tenant disputes among many others.
Who can Access Civil Court Records in the State of Colorado?
The Colorado Court Records Policy furnishes the public with the right to access, inspect, and copy most civil records. These records are filed and managed in the specific courthouse where the case was heard and may be retrieved by interested members of the public upon request. Furthermore, statutorily sealed confidential records are not available for public perusal hence unauthorized requesters receive a “No such records exist” search result. However, access to these records may be granted to individuals with a court order. The clerk of the court is the official custodian whose major responsibility is to complete all requests for case-related information within the court’s jurisdiction. Also, requesters must bear in mind that the clerk of each court may make local policies as regards to inspection of civil records and all other records maintained in the court.
What Information is Contained in a Colorado Civil Court Record?
The information contained in a Colorado civil court record depends primarily on the case itself and also on the proceedings and actions performed as regards to the case. However, all civil case records share similar general characteristics which include:
- Names/biodata of parties involved
- Gender and Race of the parties involved
- Assigned Attorney(s) information
- Case number (including court type, court location, case year, case class, case sequence)
- Case filing date
- Case status
- Claims and counterclaims
- Financial summary
- Findings/Sentence information
- Judge and division assigned to the case Judgment amount ordered
- Scheduled events and scheduled event status
Understanding Colorado’s Court Structure
The state of Colorado operates a bifurcated court system primarily composed of appellate courts and trial courts. In addition, there are several other administrative and specialized courts including small claims courts, probate courts, juvenile courts. The appellate-level courts consist of the Supreme Court and the court of appeals. The trial courts are made up of district courts, county courts, and water courts.
Colorado Appellate Courts
Headquartered in Denver, the Colorado Supreme Court has seven justices and serves as the court of last instance for all civil and criminal matters in the state. It exercises sovereign jurisdiction over petitions as regards to lower court decisions. In addition to its legal duties, it also offers advisory opinions over administrative law.
Courts of Appeal
The Colorado Court of Appeals also has no original jurisdiction over civil matters. It functions as the court of last resort over cases decided upon by the lower courts. Its determination of an appeal is final unless the Supreme Court decides to review the case. It also functions to review the decisions of the various state administrative agencies. Located in Denver, the court has 22 judges each sitting in a panel of 3 members to hear cases.
Colorado Trial Courts
They serve the courts of general jurisdiction over civil and criminal case matters. Having 22 district courts in the state, they have overlapping jurisdiction with the appellate courts, each exercising advisory decisions over cases from lower courts. However, the district court hears appeals only when the case hasn’t been taken to the appellate courts.
These are courts of limited jurisdiction over minor civil and criminal case matters. They handle civil cases under $25,000 as well as misdemeanors, felonies (before transfer to the district courts), small claims, and protection orders.
The seven water courts in Colorado are special courts which preside over the determination of water rights, use and administration of water rights, use and administration of water, and all other water matters in the state.
Are Colorado Civil Court Records Open to the Public?
In Colorado, civil court records not held by statute are public records and publicly accessible information in court records may be inspected and copied by anyone upon request. Typically, this publicly accessible information may include general case information such as the case style, case number, the presiding judge’s name, attending parties and attorneys, the major events in the case, the case history events, and record information. However, some records may be exempted from public view by law because revealing such information may pose harm to the primary parties to the case. Also, various civil records may be rendered confidential or sealed by court rule and hence limited to only authorized individuals. Some of such records include:
- Paternity and adoption case records
- Domestic relations and juvenile cases records
- Records of mental health proceedings
- Financial reports
- Birth and death certificates
- Drug/alcohol treatment documents and reports
- Health status evaluation reports
- Psychological evaluation reports
- Social security numbers and financial account numbers
- Personal identification numbers
- Information revealing the identity of sexual offense victims
How to Find Civil Court Records in Colorado
Depending on the convenience of the requester, Colorado Civil Court records can be obtained by various methods. Interested members of the public can opt to obtain records:
- By submitting a record request in person
- By searching the state’s online court website
- By requesting for records via mail
- Through third party aggregate sites like CourtRecords.org
How to Obtain Colorado Civil Court Records in Person
Interested individuals may obtain civil court records in person by the following steps:
Step 1. Gather Information
Requesters must first identify the specific court where the case was heard. After identification, the requester is required to visit and submit a written request to the court clerk. To successfully submit a valid request, interested parties must provide case-specific information required to identify the record. Some of the information required includes:
- The case ID/docket number
- Names of the primary parties in the case
- Approximate date the case ended
- Location of the courthouse
- Name of the presiding judge
- Type of lawsuit
Step 2. Visit the Courthouse
Most courts allow members of the public access to view, inspect or make copies of public civil court records. Viewing and inspection may be done at terminals located in the courthouse during normal business hours. Copies of court records may be obtained by submitting a written request to the court clerk. However, it should be noted that the clerk may deny a request if it does not provide sufficient information to identify the record being sought. Most clerks provide same-day request services, that is, providing the records on the same day it was requested. However, older records may be stored in other locations other than the courthouse in which case, requesters may be asked to return.
Step 3. Pay the Fees for Copies
Although the Colorado courts charge no fee for viewing and inspecting court records, it stipulates a fee for making copies of court records. Also, additional charges may apply for certified copy requests and the exact fee payable is determined by the court and the number of pages intended to be copied. The payment may be made in cash, by check, or online depending on the request method and the clerk’s available payment options.
How to Obtain Colorado Civil Court Records by Mail
Persons who are unable to conduct research in person may submit record requests by mail. However, requesters must first establish that the clerk of court offers this service. To obtain civil records by mail, requesters may send a record request form or a written request containing the case number, case name, document title, appropriate fees and self-addressed stamped envelope with appropriate return postage to the specific court. The mail-in request method varies from county to county and details on how to request records by mail can be found on the official court’s website or by contacting the clerk of court. The website also provides details on the cost of securing certified copies and photocopies of civil court records using this method. Additional search fees may apply if the requester doesn’t provide a case number. Requesters must also determine if the court accepts written requests and/or there is a request form that can be printed out from the clerk’s online page.
How to Obtain Colorado Civil Court Records Online
Electronic search has the advantage of allowing citizens the privilege of searching, inspecting, and copying civil court records without the need to physically visit the courthouse. The Unified Judicial System of Colorado operates an Online Case Management System designed to provide public access to civil court records of Colorado’s courts. Civil court records are primarily managed by the district courts and County courts of the State. As such, most civil court records are available on the individual web docket tools of the courts accessible by clicking on the specific county name on the Portal.
The Colorado judiciary also maintains a central docket sheet/ search portal which contains information generated during the appellate and trial court hearings. In accordance with the provisions made by the Colorado public record policy, the information accessible to remote searches are limited to the party names involved in the case, case information such as case number, case judge, scheduled date, time and location of court proceedings, orders and decrees, judgment and relevant documents that serve as evidence. On the other hand, information which specifically identifies jurors, victims, witnesses, and impartial parties are excluded from the web portal. These records typically require in-person or mail-in requests to be retrieved from the court clerk. All information available on the unified web portal may be accessed for free. However, an additional search fee may apply if the case number is not known.
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 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.
Are all Colorado Civil Court Records Online?
No, all Colorado civil court records are not online. Recent civil court cases are maintained in the unified online state portal while older records of filed cases may be unavailable in digitized format. This means that such records can only be viewed in paper print form by walk-in visits and cannot be viewed online until they are imaged and uploaded by the court clerk. Also, online access to confidential civil court cases, such as records of family part proceedings among many others is protected from public view.