Connecticut Court Records Search
The term “court records,” also known as a case file, is defined by the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch as official court documents generated during a court case trial. A Connecticut court record provides information about events that occurred during a case’s trial, such as pleadings, exhibits, orders, and testimonies.
Under the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act, the general public is allowed access to court records through a process called a Connecticut court records search. Interested persons can conduct a Connecticut court records search in person at a court location or online through the state Judicial branch website. Generally, court records searches are conducted using different criteria, such as a case party's name, case number, attorney number, and property address. Record seekers can sometimes filter down search results by case type and district.
Are Connecticut Court Records Public?
The Connecticut Freedom of Information Act guarantees public access to all government records unless they are confidential. Records kept by the local or state government in the state can be accessed by interested persons, provided such records contain information relating to the public. Consequently, court records are available for public access, review, and copying, except such records, are exempted from public disclosure. For instance, court records of juvenile matters are confidential, although with some exceptions. C.G.S. 46B-124 states that the information of a juvenile case regarding delinquency proceedings or any part thereof shall be available to the victim of the crime committed by such a minor. The record availability shall be to the same extent as the record of a defendant case in a criminal proceeding in the regular criminal docket would be available.
When a court seals a record, the parts of the documents ordered sealed by the judge will be unavailable for disclosure. However, some portions of a court record will continue to be available for public access if such a file is only partially sealed. Any document sealed by the court will become accessible once the sealing order expires.
The Connecticut Freedom of Information Act was first enacted in 1975. According to the law, anyone may request public records, including court records, without a statement of purpose. There are also no restrictions on how individuals use public records once obtained. Some exemptions to the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act are:
- Trade Secrets
- Records of law enforcement agencies that have the potential of putting victims in danger
- Information that may compromise the security of any individual or entity
- Individuals home addresses
- Adoption records
- Any record, such as medical or personnel files the revealing of which may constitute an infringement of personal privacy
- Financial information and statements of personal worth
How Do I Find Court Records in Connecticut?
The first step to take when trying to obtain court records in Connecticut is to know the court keeping such records. Also, requestors must have the required data to help them initiate the search online using the website designed by the Connecticut Judicial Branch. The website is provided as a public service to facilitate the ease of finding records of cases filed after January 1, 1991, at the Supreme Court, Appellate Court, and Probate Court. However, this website may not provide case information about juvenile delinquents because it is confidential under Connecticut law. It also may not disclose parties' identifying information. Any court record not revealed using the website will be available at the local courthouses where they were filed and heard.
Connecticut Court Records Public Access
The Connecticut Supreme Court and the Appellate Court online provide remote access to Connecticut court case information. To use either database, users may:
Search By Case Name
Interested persons can search court records with case names (if known) using the Case Name Search. To do this, enter the partial or complete case name correctly in the Case Name field. Move to the Court drop-down box and select either the Supreme Court or Appellate Court to moderate the search or choose "Both" for a broader search. Knowing the date range will equally narrow the query, but requestors may leave the field empty to search the entire database. Hit the search button once done to display records related to the data supplied.
Search By Party Name
To find court records in the Supreme Court or Appellate Court using the Party Name Search, interested persons should input the party's name in the Party Name box. The party names may be entered in full or partly, but with the right spelling. Select the court type from the Court pull-down menu, choose the status of the case from the Status box, and then click submit.
Search By Docket Number
Individuals who know the docket numbers of the court records they seek from the Superior Court or the Appellate Court can use the Docket Number Search. The Supreme and Appellate Court docket numbers are a 5-digit number. Select the court type from the Court field and then click the search button.
Search By Attorney
The Anthony Search option allows interested persons to find records of the Supreme Court and the Appellate Court using either the Juris number or the Attorney name. A Juris number is a six-digit number. However, in a case where requestors do not know this number, they may check the Attorney radio button and input the partial or complete name correctly. Select the court type, case status, and the case file date from their respective fields, and then click the search button.
The Connecticut Judicial Branch created an online database of the Connecticut Probate Court records. To use this, interested parties should select the case type and district from the Case Type and District drop-down menus, respectively. They should also input the party's last and first names, choose the case status, and then hit the search button. Note that this portal contains Probate Court records from January 5, 2011, to date. Any search result displaying cases before 2011 may be sketchy.
Instructions on finding other forms of court records in Connecticut are on the Connecticut Judicial Branch website. Persons who seek to obtain certified copies of court records should contact the local courthouses where such files are kept and inquire about the action steps. Copying and certifying court records at court locations often attract some nominal fees. For instance, a charge of $3 per page applies to obtaining copies of court records and an additional payment of $1 per page for expedited copies.
Considered open to citizens of the United States, public 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.
How to Conduct a Connecticut Court Record Search by Name
Interested persons can conduct a Connecticut court record search by name by visiting the state of Connecticut Judicial Branch case lookup directory. On the directory, links to different court record search portals are provided. Record seekers can use these to look up court records generated in different types of court cases. These include supreme and appellate, civil, family, criminal, motor vehicle, housing, and small claims cases.
For instance, clicking on the Supreme and Appellate court cases look-up link will direct users to the Connecticut Judicial Branch Supreme and Appellate Court Case Look-up webpage. On this webpage, inquirers can search for Supreme and Appellate court case records by providing different search criteria. These criteria include the case name, docket number, party name, and attorney/law firm name. Conducting a search through the page will provide a list of cases related to the criteria provided. Users can view the list of relevant court cases on the search result page and basic details about each case. Some basic details about cases that users can find on the search result page include case names, docket numbers, trial court docket numbers, filing dates, and status.
Furthermore, users can view more information about a specific case’s court records by clicking on a case’s docket number. Doing this would lead the user to a page containing the selected case’s records. These include the case’s cross-appeal/amended appeal details, trial court case information, case party information, transcripts, exhibits, preliminary papers, briefs, and case activity.
How to Get Court Records Online for Free
In Connecticut, Interested persons can view court records online for free through the state’s Judicial Branch case lookup directory. The directory provides links to different types of court case lookup portals. Interested persons can use these portals to search for and access a case’s court records online for free.
For federal court cases, an inquirer can use the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) website to access court records online for a nominal fee. Inquirers must create a PACER account to use the website.
Types of Courts in Connecticut
Connecticut state judicial system consists of four court levels: the Supreme Court, Appellate Court, Superior Court, and Probate Court. Each court level has unique jurisdiction over different types of court cases.
The Supreme Court is the highest court in Connecticut. This court is generally responsible for reviewing decisions issued by the Superior Court to ensure that no errors of laws were committed. The Supreme can also review specific decisions of an Appellate Court. Similar to the Supreme Court, Appellate Courts are also responsible for reviewing decisions issued by Superior Courts.
Superior courts have jurisdiction over all cases that Probate Courts do not have exclusive jurisdiction over. These include and are not limited to most criminal cases and civil matters. Some Probate court matters may also be appealed to the Superior Court. Lastly, Probate courts are the lowest court in the state. These courts have jurisdiction over cases involving estates of deceased persons, estates of minors, adoptions, testamentary trusts, conservators, and committed/guardianship of the mentally ill.
What are Connecticut Judgment Records?
Connecticut judgment records are documents created when the court arrives at a decision on a case filed in its jurisdiction. This decision becomes binding when the court enters it into the case record, also signifying the end of most court cases unless a party pursues an appeal. The Connecticut Freedom of Information Act makes judgment records public records available to interested members of the public.
Persons who wish to obtain Connecticut judgment records must visit the clerk’s office in the court where the case was adjudicated. Case information is also available on the Connecticut Case Lookup portal. In any way, both in-person and online searches require the litigants’ names, docket numbers, or attorneys’ names to retrieve the judgment record from the case file. Furthermore, the requester must pay court fees for searching and making copies of the judgment record.
The information contained in Connecticut judgment records varies with case type. A typical judgment record contains the litigants’ names, the judge’s name, and judgment date. Persons who obtain judgment records can also expect to see the litigants’ claims and the court’s decision per claim or complaint.
What are Connecticut Bankruptcy Records?
Connecticut Bankruptcy Records are detailed financial records of individuals and business entities that file for bankruptcy in the state due to their inability to meet their financial obligations to creditors. The Bankruptcy Court for the District of Connecticut has three divisional offices in Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport. Due to the challenging circumstances created by COVID-19, the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Connecticut has issued many General Orders and Guidance addressing the Court’s operations. Since March 12, 2020, most conferences and non-evidentiary hearings have been conducted through telephone or remote technology. The Court provides participants and attendees with instructions, information, and best practices for appearing remotely before the Court via video or phone.
Interested members of the public may access bankruptcy records alongside related records such as Connecticut Liens, judgments, writs and contracts from the office of the county clerk or the clerk of courts in the judicial district where the petition was originally filed.
How to Find Bankruptcy Records in Connecticut
Like other types of court records, bankruptcy records are public in Connecticut per the state Freedom of Information Act. Like other U.S. states, bankruptcy cases generally fall within the jurisdiction of the federal court level in Connecticut. In total, there are three United States Bankruptcy Courts in Connecticut.
To find bankruptcy records in Connecticut, a record seeker must first determine which of the three bankruptcy courts handled the case the bankruptcy record belongs to. The record seeker can query the clerk's office of the bankruptcy court to find the desired case’s bankruptcy record. Alternatively, record seekers can search for desired bankruptcy records online through online databases like PACER. On PACER, a record seeker can search for bankruptcy records by a specific court or search by National index.
Record seekers are typically required to provide information about the desired record when searching for bankruptcy records. Irregardless of whether they are searching through a bankruptcy court clerk’s office or PACER. These details about the record are used to facilitate the search and identify the record in question. Some examples of these details include the case number and the name of the creditor or debtor.
Record seekers should note that some bankruptcy records may be non-disclosable to the general public pursuant to a court order or privacy laws. To access such records, record seekers can contact the bankruptcy court clerk’s office where the record was generated to inquire about the eligibility requirements for accessing such records. Record seekers can also contact the NARA (National Archives Records Administration) to obtain closed bankruptcy records.
Note that there are generally two types of copies of bankruptcy records that can be issued to record seekers, namely informational copies and authenticated copies. The difference between the two types of copies is their use cases. Information copies are used for personal purposes, such as satisfying one's curiosity. On the other hand, record seekers would need authenticated copies to use the records for official purposes. It is equally important to note that record seekers are usually charged additional fees to authenticate bankruptcy records.
Can You Look Up Court Cases in Connecticut?
Yes, interested persons can look up court cases in Connecticut. They can do so by using the Case Look-up page of the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch. The Case Look-Up website is updated daily but may not display information on confidential cases per Connecticut law. It is also a user-friendly website. Interested persons can look up court cases holding at the Supreme Court, Appellate Court, and the Superior Court. Court case lookup is available for Probate Court cases on the Connecticut Probate Court Case Lookup page.
For cases at the Supreme and Appellate Courts, use:
- By Case Name, if the name of the case is known.
- By Docket Number, if the case number is known.
- By Party Name, if the party's name is known.
- By Attorney Name, if the name of the case attorney is known.
- By Trial Court Docket Number, for a known trial court number.
Requestors can also look up court cases of interest at the county court locations where they are being tried.
Connecticut Court Case Lookup Exemptions
The Connecticut Freedom of Information Act (CFIA) permits public disclosure of court records generated in Connecticut. However, a court order can exempt a court case record from being publicly disclosable. Some state statutes also exempt or limit the disclosure of specific types of court case records. Only eligible individuals are allowed access to the affected record in such cases.
For instance, court records of juvenile cases are confidential under C.G.S. § 46b-124. These court records are only accessible to certain eligible persons. These include and are not limited to victims of the crimes committed by the child, the attorney representing the child, and the parent or guardian of the child. Under C.G.S. § 1-210 (b) (14), adoption records are exempted from public disclosure. Furthermore, the Connecticut Practice Book permits sealing particular documents in civil or criminal cases. These sealed documents are inaccessible to the general public except when permitted by a court order.
What is a Court Docket in Connecticut?
A Connecticut court docket is an official court-generated document that contains a chronological list of a court case’s complete history. A court docket generally provides information about different aspects of a court case, including and not limited to pleading, motions, and documents filed in the case. Interested parties can peruse a case's court dockets to better understand a court case, such as why the court made a ruling or opinion.
Besides being a hub of information about a court case, a court docket is also used as an administrative tool where a case’s scheduled court dates are provided. Pro se litigants (self-represented litigants) of an ongoing case can review their case’s court docket to find out the time, date, and venue of upcoming court appearances they may have.
A case’s court docket is generated and maintained by the clerk’s office of the courthouse where the case was heard. Hence, interested persons can query relevant court clerk’s offices to obtain court dockets. Queries may be made in person at the clerk's office during regular business hours, by phone, or by mail, depending on what the court permits.
Record seekers can also find most information provided on a court docket online by conducting a court case lookup through the state of Connecticut Judicial Branch case lookup directory.
What are Civil Court and Small Claims in Connecticut?
The Civil Division of the Superior Court primarily hears cases in which the parties seek to protect personal, civil and property rights. Small claims can be used in Connecticut if the petitioner is suing for $5,000 or less. Note that this amount is not fixed and may change at intervals as decided by state law. Although Magistrates are responsible for hearing and deciding small claims cases, there are instances when judges hear such proceedings. Parties involved in small claims cases are not required to hire attorneys for prosecution or defense.
Connecticut Small Claims Courts are designed such that anyone can handle their legal matters from the beginning of a trial to the end. There are no jury trials in small claims. Defendants may, however, file motions to transfer their cases to regular dockets and then request jury trials. Any ruling made in a Small Claim Court cannot be appealed. The types of cases that can be filed in small claims court include:
- Unpaid claims
- Hospital bills for medical treatment
- Return of wrongfully withheld security deposits
- Car accidents
- Breach of agreement (verbal or written)
- Damaged property
- Delinquent rent
A person who files a small claims case, known as the plaintiff, must serve the lawsuit to persons being sued, otherwise called the defendants. The filing fee of a small claims case in Connecticut is $95, payable to check, money order, or cash to the Clerk of the Superior Court. A plaintiff can also pay in person using Visa or Mastercard. An individual or a business who intends to file a small claims case should complete the form JD-CV-40 to start with and submit it at the court designated by the Chief Court Administrator. A plaintiff may equally file small claims dispute electronically. When filing a small claims case, make sure to use the defendant's exact and complete personal or business names. The Small Claims Court does not make collections for plaintiffs but can issue an execution to allow them to use state marshals to collect their money.