Utah Court Records
What are Utah Civil Court Records?
Utah civil court records are official documentation that provides details of factual information following civil court proceedings in the state. These records include transcripts, statements of evidence, audit reports, exhibits, tapes of depositions, docket sheets, motions, petitions, briefs, court decrees, and other similar documents written or recorded electronically as part of the civil court’s deliberative process. In accordance with the Utah Code of Judicial Administration (4–202.02), court records are either public or confidential depending on the case type, nature, and sensitivity. Interested members of the public may find Utah civil court records in the jurisdiction where the case was heard.
Cases Heard by Utah Civil Courts
Different trial courts in the state of Utah have powers to hear civil cases within their individual jurisdiction. These courts generally handle legal disputes between people or institutions such as breach of contract, cases of defamation, tort (personal injury) claims, property damage, negligence resulting in injury or death, landlord/tenant matters, equitable claims, and other similar cases.
What information is contained in a Utah Civil Court Record?
The information contained in Utah civil court records are case-specific and primarily depends on the proceedings and actions of the case. However, all records share similar index information which may include:
- Name and personal information of parties involved
- Assigned Attorney(s) information
- Case information (court type, court location, case number, case type, case status)
- Case filing date
- Hearing dates, time, and location
- Claims and counterclaims
- Financial summary
- Findings/Sentence information
- Judge and division assigned to the case
Understanding the Utah Civil Court Structure
The Utah State Constitution tasks the judicial branch with the interpretation of state law through a fine legislative process carried out by the various courts with differing powers in the state. These courts oversee the resolution of public and private disputes that may arise within their respective jurisdiction. The state operates a simple court system composed of two appellate courts - Supreme Court and Court of Appeals; and three trial courts - District, Justice, and Juvenile courts.
- Supreme Court: constitutes the court of final authority over appeals from lower courts. Such appeals may include all civil cases other than domestic relation cases decided at the district courts. The Utah Supreme Court also offers advisory jurisdiction over questions of law and all unethical judicial practice by the learned counsels.
- Court of Appeals: hears appeals from lower courts and also reviews cases handed over to it by the Supreme Court. Composed of 7 judges, the court particularly hears appeals over domestic matters.
- District Courts: the district courts are the courts of general jurisdiction over all civil, criminal, probate, domestic relations, and small claim cases. They also accept and hear appeals from the justice courts.
- Justice Courts: these are courts of limited jurisdiction that exercise geographical authority over violation of ordinances and small claim civil cases.
- Juvenile Courts: they oversee cases committed by adolescents and teenagers not greater than 18 years of age. They also hear family-related cases involving children neglected and/or abused.
Are Utah Civil Court Records Open to the Public?
Consistent with the Utah Court Rules, non-confidential civil court records are public records made available for viewing, inspection, and retrieval by interested members of the public. Essentially, included materials are general case information such as the case number, case status, civil case type, civil judgment, attorney name, the amount in controversy, daily calendars, and filing date. In sharp contrast, sealed, private, or protected records may be exempted in part or fully from public view to ensure the security and protect the primary purpose for which the records were sealed. Requests for access to these records are only granted to authorized individuals allowed by the special provisions of law or court order. Some confidential records include;
- Adoption and paternity proceedings
- Consent on abortion performed on minors
- Termination of parental rights cases
- Proceedings for disease testing
- Juvenile delinquency cases
- Records revealing the identity of a confidential informant
- Mental health evaluations cases
- Tax returns from income
- Financial statements filed in a case about child/spousal support
- Some marriage license information
- Reports filed by a physician concerning the medical condition of an alleged disabled adult
- Reports filed by a guardian regarding the property of an alleged disabled adult
How to Find Civil Court Records in Utah
The appellate, district and juvenile courts are the courts of record in the state of Utah. Interested persons may access civil court record filed in these courts through the following means:
- By submitting a record request in person
- By searching the state’s online court website
- By requesting for records via mail
How to Obtain Utah Civil Court Records Online
Utah courts provide online access to records via a variety of platforms. For instance, the appellate courts maintain an online Case Search portal, which enables members of the public to remotely access records from the comfort of their homes. However, a subscription is required before the access request is granted. Also, the courts provide Opinions and Arguments search tool on their website. Users are required to input/choose the case year, the case number, as well as the court name. The district courts also maintain a unified case search tool where civil records may be examined, and copied. Subscription is also required and case-specific information is critical to search.
The district, juvenile, and appellate court reporters digitally record court hearings. Copies of each recorded hearing are available at the court location. Older records filed in the past 50 years or less in the appellate, district, juvenile, probate, and justice courts are archived in the state’s repository. Interested members of the public may utilize the case search tool provided by the Archived Court Records website.
Note that payment may be required before some records are accessed and if copies are also requested, additional charges may apply.
Publicly available records are also 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 Do I Access Utah Civil Court Records in Person?
Step 1. Identify the Court and gather Relevant Case Information
Different courts offer access to specific civil court records based on their jurisdiction. For instance, the justice courts are usually the courts of interest in small claims case records while the district courts handle major civil cases. Cases appealed to appellate courts may be examined in the Supreme Court or court of appeals.
Step 2. Visit the Courthouse and Render a Record Request
Courts in the state of Utah provide local guidelines on the process of searching through their court case records. Most district courts provide self-help public terminals where requesters can search and view cases using the case number or party names. Viewing the public access terminal constitutes the easiest, most efficient method of accessing court records. However, in such instances where the case number is not known or the requester is unable to find the individual or the record in the terminal, a request for assistance may be made to the court custodian who may require a search fee before the request is processed. Furthermore, requesters who do not know how to use the self-help center may submit a written request to the clerk of court especially if copies are needed. Some courts provide online request forms that can be printed from the court website and filled before visiting the court to simplify the process. Other courts may provide this request form in physical paper format.
Step 3: Pay the Required Fees and Obtain Copies of Records
While members of the public may view and inspect records for free, there is a nominal fee for obtaining copies of civil records. Additional charges may apply if certified copies are requested. The payment method and requirements vary from court to court and may depend on the number of pages intended to be copied. Prior to visiting the courthouse, requesters may contact the specific courthouse to ascertain the payment requirements explored by the court.
How Do I Obtain Utah Civil Court Records by Mail?
To obtain records by mail, the requesting party must first determine the specific court of interest and also gather relevant information. Some courts offer additional emailing services which may prove an easier method for internet-wise requesters. The clerk of court generally provides the mailing/emailing address and defines the steps necessary for exploring this option. To properly render an acceptable request, requests are required to send a written request which must include the case number, first name, last name, date of birth of one of the parties to the case, the specific document needed, a self-addressed stamped envelope, and a phone number to the court where the case was filed. For easier access, some courts provide a downloadable form that can be printed, completed and mailed to the court.
Note that the processing fee must be paid before the clerk attends to a request hence it is advisable for the requester to contact the clerk to ascertain both the cost of the sought copies and the payment method accepted by the court.
Are all Utah Civil Court Records Online?
Not all records are available online. For instance, court records older than 50 years may not be found online and can only be available in physical format at the secondary storage site where they are kept. Case-specific information is required for access and subscription is mandatory before explorers can attain access to copies of court records.