North Dakota Court Records
Court records in North Dakota are the official documentation of proceedings in the state's court system. They contain information about the details of cases, including parties involved, motions filed, evidence presented, and final rulings and judgments.
These records are essential in preserving the judicial process for public oversight. The state constitution guarantees public accessibility to court records in Article XI, Section 6. This law establishes the principle that the activities of the courts, as government institutions, must have transparency.
The provision mandates that all government entities, including courts, must make their records available for public inspection when required, except for documents specifically deemed confidential by law. Some exceptions exist to balance openness with privacy interests.
For example, the North Dakota Supreme Court Administrative Rule 41 excludes confidential personal information from court documents accessible to the public.
Details shielded include information about jurors, juvenile proceedings, files related to sexual assault restraining orders, and declarations and affidavits submitted for the warrant issuance. Parties can also make special requests to seal sensitive case information.
Overall, North Dakota Court Records document vital case proceedings while upholding public accountability of the judicial system through open access. Citizens can rely on these records to monitor due process and stay informed on matters of law.
Which North Dakota Courts Maintain Publicly Accessible Records?
When obtaining court records in North Dakota, it is essential to understand the structure of the state court system. By understanding the different components of the court system, individuals can identify the appropriate courts and procedures for accessing needed North Dakota Court Records.
In most cases, the North Dakota trial court system maintains court records and provides public access upon request. And this system consists primarily of the following types of courts:
North Dakota District Courts
North Dakota District Courts represent the primary trial court system in the state and hold broad jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters at the county level. There are 53 District Courts organized into eight judicial districts spanning the state.
District Courts adjudicate major criminal cases and civil lawsuits. For criminal matters, these courts have jurisdiction over all felony and misdemeanor charges. They may also take on municipal ordinance violations if the defendant requests a jury trial.
On the civil side, North Dakota District Courts cover a wide range of case types, including general civil suits, probate, juvenile issues, domestic relations, and mental health.
Each District Court has a Small Claims Division for minor civil claims under $15,000 as long as both parties accept the jurisdiction. Claims involving deception or misrepresentation can also be heard in Small Claims Court. More complex civil matters get assigned to the standard Civil Division.
Additionally, District Courts in North Dakota have their Juvenile Court Division with exclusive jurisdiction over cases alleging a minor is delinquent, deprived, or unruly. Juvenile proceedings remain confidential with special access procedures.
In certain situations, these courts hold limited jurisdiction over civil disputes arising in tribal territories, such as guardianship or enforcement of tribal court orders.
North Dakota Municipal Courts
North Dakota Municipal Courts comprise the local city and county-level courts with jurisdiction over minor criminal matters and ordinance violations. Approximately 87 Municipal Courts are operating statewide.
Municipal Courts' primary function is enforcing local city and county codes and regulations. It adjudicates infractions like traffic tickets, city parking violations, noise complaints, public nuisances, and minor misdemeanors when permitted by city code. Municipal Court judges can level fines and other limited sentencing for these violations.
Unlike District Courts, Municipal Courts in North Dakota do not hold jury trials. If a defendant faces Municipal Court charges carrying the right to a jury trial and makes a proper request, the case must be transferred to a District Court. Municipal Courts are not equipped to conduct jury proceedings.
While Municipal Courts handle high-volume caseloads around local regulations and minor crimes, they pass more severe misdemeanors and all felony crimes to the District Courts. Their jurisdiction is limited only to ordinances within their specific municipality.
The Supreme Court is the highest court and oversees the regulation of legal practice and court rule compliance. It also exercises discretionary appellate jurisdiction over cases from lower courts. On the other hand, the Court of Appeals serves as an intermediate appellate court, hearing appeals as assigned by the Supreme Court.
As head of the judicial system, these appellate courts also maintain and provide access to certain court records upon request.
What are the Common Public Court Records in North Dakota?
North Dakota offers public access to a wide array of court records that provide transparency into the state judicial system. Common publicly available court records in North Dakota include the following:
North Dakota Civil and Small Claims Records
Civil court records in North Dakota contain information regarding civil lawsuits held in the Civil Court Divisions of District Courts. These lawsuits involve disputes between private parties, organizations, or individuals seeking compensation for damages or injuries to their rights.
Civil Court Divisions of District Courts can handle civil claims involving any alleged damages or monetary compensation sought. Civil cases cover various matters, including contracts, malpractice, product liability, personal injury, real estate, estate issues, and corporate disputes.
Conversely, Small Claims Court is a division within District Courts in North Dakota that handles minor civil claims. The monetary limit for small claims jurisdiction is under $15,000. Common small claims cases involve consumer complaints, security deposit returns, faulty goods or services, and collection of debts.
Compared to Civil Court, Small Claims Court proceedings relax the rules around evidence submission and legal arguments to simplify the process. While Small Claims Court allows formal legal representation, litigants are not required to have attorneys in small claims cases. But cases that raise complex legal issues may get transferred to Civil Court.
Though the Civil Court Divisions and Small Claims Court Divisions in North Dakota have different jurisdictions and procedures, their records contain some common types of information. Both North Dakota Civil Court Records and North Dakota Small Claims Court Records can offer the following information:
- Names of the parties involved in the case
- Contact information like addresses for the parties
- Details about the nature of the dispute or lawsuit
- Dates of key events and court proceedings
- Any motions or requests filed by the parties
- Copies of evidence submitted, including contracts, invoices, correspondence, etc.
- Notes or transcripts from hearings and trial proceedings
- The final judgment made by the court
- Damages or settlement amounts awarded, if applicable
- Information about appeals, if any
How To Access North Dakota Civil and Small Claims Records
Civil court records and small claims court records in North Dakota fall under the jurisdiction of the District Courts. To access these records, individuals must contact the county District Court that handled the original case.
Each county maintains and provides copies of the records for civil suits and small claims matters filed in its District Court. Requesters must know the county and court location where the case was adjudicated to send the records request to the proper District Court clerk's office.
Many county District Courts in North Dakota now offer online portals to remotely request civil and small claims records. Users can complete request forms and make secure online payments through these websites. Documents can then be delivered electronically for convenience.
For counties without an online system, it will be necessary to submit records requests directly to the court clerk's office via mail, phone, or in-person visit. Utilizing standard forms and following established procedures enables the retrieval of civil or small claims records, with a copying charge applied per page.
Proper identification and case information, including party names and case numbers, are required with all requests.
North Dakota Criminal Records
North Dakota Criminal Records contain official documentation of an individual's arrests, charges, and convictions within the state. Also known as "rap sheets," these records compile information from North Dakota courts, police departments, corrections facilities, and other criminal justice entities.
Criminal records typically include personal details about the subject, like full legal name, known aliases, current and previous addresses, and dates of felony or misdemeanor arrests. By collecting this data from multiple sources, criminal records paint a comprehensive picture of someone's criminal past.
Maintaining and providing access to criminal records is a pivotal public service, enabling background checks for employment, licensing, housing applications, and general public safety needs.
How To Obtain Criminal Records in North Dakota
Most criminal records in the state are stored in online record systems operated by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NDBCI).
The NDBCI allows access to North Dakota Criminal Records through name-based background checks for approved purposes such as employment screening.
Individuals interested in conducting a criminal record search in North Dakota can apply by mail. To begin the process, applicants must complete a Request for Criminal History Record Information form.
Alongside the form, they must include a check or money order that covers the applicable fee. Finally, they must mail the application and payment to the address provided in the form.
Individuals also have the option to directly request detailed case information from the court or law enforcement agency that handles an arrest or conviction.
Accessing North Dakota Criminal Records comes with restrictions against misuse. Usage must comply with state law allowing background checks for lawful screening purposes. Understanding the proper procedures to retrieve criminal records enables informed decision-making while upholding individual privacy.
North Dakota Traffic Records
One of the valuable North Dakota Court Records is traffic records. These records, also known as driver abstracts, provide a detailed account of an individual's driving history within a specified period.
Managed by the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) for licensed drivers and state courts for traffic court proceedings, traffic records serve multiple interests and purposes for individuals, the state, and other concerned parties.
These driving histories compile details like license status, convictions, crashes, restrictions, demerit points, and other actions. Traffic records allow review of qualifications and conduct behind the wheel. It benefits insurance providers, employers, law enforcement, licensing agencies, and drivers.
However, personal information like birth dates and home addresses are exempt from public disclosure without consent under state and federal traffic record privacy laws.
How To Access North Dakota Traffic Records
There are several options for accessing North Dakota Traffic Records, including online, in-person, mail, and fax.
North Dakota driver license holders can conveniently request limited driving records through the NDDOT Drivers License Record Request System, accessible online.
To access the NDDOT online system, individuals must provide their name, date of birth, address, and driver's license number. They must also pay the applicable fee using a credit or debit card like Visa, Mastercard, or Discover.
Note that the NDDOT online system only provides limited driving/traffic records, not complete histories. Individuals must visit the Bismarck NDDOT office in person to obtain a lifetime record.
To receive a North Dakota Traffic Record by mail, individuals must complete the Request for Driver Abstract Form, enclose the required record fee (payable by money order or check), and mail the form and payment to the address provided. Sending mail-in requests also allows interested individuals to access complete records.
Lastly, individuals can request limited and complete driving/traffic records via fax. Faxing the request form above with payment details to (701) 328-2435 allows the NDDOT to fulfill partial and complete record requests through return mail.
North Dakota Probate Records
Probate records in North Dakota contain official documentation of the proceedings and filings involved in the legal process of administering and distributing a deceased person's estate. These records document the resolution of estate affairs following the deceased's will and North Dakota probate law.
Probate oversees validating the will, identifying assets, paying outstanding debts and taxes, and spreading the remaining property to lawful heirs and beneficiaries.
North Dakota Probate Records provide transparency into this court-supervised process. They may include wills, petitions for probate, inventories of estate assets, appointment orders for executors, final accountings, court proceedings, and certificates or orders distributing assets to heirs.
Accessing probate files allows family members and other interested parties to verify compliance, uncover fraud, and establish inheritance rights. Probate records also help establish clear provenance and ownership when purchasing assets from an estate.
As court records, probate files in North Dakota fall under public records law, with allowances to protect confidential personal data.
How To Access North Dakota Probate Records
To access a probate case file, interested parties must contact the specific county District Court that initially presided over the probate proceedings following a resident's death. Each county clerk of court maintains records for probate cases filed in its jurisdiction. Request forms, ID, and applicable fees are required to obtain copies of documents from the original probate case file.
Furthermore, many probate records have been digitized and made available online. Various online platforms provide access to North Dakota Probate Records, making research more convenient and accessible for individuals near and far.
The State Historical Society of North Dakota may offer an online database where users can search for and access some North Dakota Probate Records.
North Dakota Family Records
Family court records in North Dakota contain documentation from legal proceedings related to domestic matters within family law. It includes cases involving divorce, child custody and support, guardianship, adoption, domestic abuse protection, and juvenile delinquency or dependency.
North Dakota Family Records from courts itemize details about the involved parties and children, marriage and divorce petitions, financial disclosures, parentage determinations, custody evaluations, court motions, orders, finalized divorce decrees, adoption certificates, and juvenile case proceedings.
Access to these records allows individuals to uphold their legal rights, uncover potential fraud, trace genealogy and familial relationships, and identify concerns regarding children or vulnerable family members.
Probate Courts also rely on family records to establish heirships and benefit entitlements after a death. However, unless there is a specific cause, confidential details such as financial documents and the names of juveniles remain sealed.
How To Access North Dakota Family Records
To access North Dakota Family Records from courts, interested parties must contact the county-level District Court that initially heard the family law case.
Identification, record request forms, applicable fees, and sometimes confidentiality waivers may be required to release copies of case documents to authorized requestors. Redacted versions may be provided to protect private information.
North Dakota Bankruptcy Records
The maintenance of North Dakota Court Records primarily falls under the jurisdiction of the state trial courts. However, regarding bankruptcy filings and associated records, the responsibility lies with the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts for the District of North Dakota, an essential part of the federal court system.
North Dakota Bankruptcy Records document the court proceedings that outline the debt relief options available under federal law. It includes voluntary or involuntary petitions for Chapter 7 liquidation, Chapter 11 reorganization, Chapter 12 farmer debt adjustment, and Chapter 13 personal debt restructuring.
Details commonly found in bankruptcy filings include financial disclosures, lists of creditors and assets, repayment plans, creditor objections, court motions and rulings, trustee reports, and final debt discharges.
Accessing bankruptcy documents allows creditors to monitor case status and confirm the discharge of debts. Records also verify compliance with court-ordered plans. The public availability of bankruptcy records facilitates transparency around individual and organizational insolvency. However, personal identifiers and financial account numbers remain confidential.
How To Obtain Bankruptcy Records in North Dakota
There are various methods through which individuals can obtain bankruptcy records in North Dakota, and the following are the main approaches:
Bankruptcy Clerk's Office
The bankruptcy clerk's office in Fargo offers administrative support to the court and maintains bankruptcy records. Interested individuals can visit the office or contact them at (701) 297-7100.
The clerk's office offers various ways to obtain physical bankruptcy court records. They also provide copies of electronic bankruptcy documents filed before December 1, 2003, for a per-page fee.
Public Terminal at the Clerk's Office
For bankruptcy court files and documents filed before December 1, 2003, the public terminal located at the bankruptcy clerk's office provides access for public inspection. Interested individuals can view and print these documents with a per-page cost associated with the service.
Local Bankruptcy Court Filing System
Each bankruptcy court maintains its case information independently and locally. Inquirers seeking access to North Dakota Bankruptcy Records specific to the court can do so through the court's filing system. However, users must create an account before gaining access to the database.
Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER)
Individuals need a working subscriber account on PACER to access bankruptcy records online. PACER allows public access to case and docket information from various federal courts, including the North Dakota Bankruptcy Court. Interested parties can register for a PACER account online.
To effectively use PACER, requesters should have case locations and filing numbers. If unsure about the case location, the PACER Case Locator can be used to find the necessary information.
Does North Dakota Have a Case Search?
The North Dakota Court System (NDCS) provides online court record access through the state courts' case management system, Odyssey. It allows the public to perform case searches for criminal, traffic, civil, family, and probate matters across North Dakota jurisdictions.
To use the system, individuals must visit the North Dakota Courts Records Inquiry (NDCRI) portal and select their desired court location and record types. Users can search for detailed case information by entering parameters such as case numbers, party names, attorney names, citation numbers, and filing dates, depending on their selected case category.
Users can initiate the query after entering the appropriate search criteria into the lookup form. It searches the Odyssey system and returns a list of matching cases. Users can review the results and click case numbers for comprehensive case details.
If the desired North Dakota Court Records are unavailable through the courts' Odyssey case search system or NDCRI, requesters can also contact the clerk's office for the specific court that handled the matter. Additional identification and request forms may be required to obtain eligible records directly from the court clerk.
In certain instances, particularly for older or sensitive records, visiting the courthouse in person may be necessary. Individuals can learn about the procedures and requirements for accessing physical court records by consulting with the clerk.
Counties in North Dakota
- Golden Valley
- Grand Forks
Courts in North Dakota
List of Content
- Which North Dakota Courts Maintain Publicly Accessible Records?
- What are the Common Public Court Records in North Dakota?
- Does North Dakota Have a Case Search?