Iowa Court Records
Iowa court records have moved at least twice in the state’s history, all while gathering over 150 years’ worth of legal resources for the judiciary and public’s use. Now located in an esteemed and renovated building in Des Moines, the State Law Library allows searches of appellate briefs, local and state statutes, federal laws and even court procedures and dockets. Civil and criminal Iowa court records, past opinions and even historical documents from the area are all available for general public research.
History of Iowa Court Records
The Iowa State Law Library’s collection first came into existence in 1840, when the General Assembly passed an Act to allow for a librarian for the territory. Iowa court records were maintained at that library, which was open during sessions of the Supreme Court and legislature. It is unclear where the original library was located, but it was moved to Iowa City in 1857. At this time, legal materials moved to the new location but other volumes were taken to the Iowa Historical Memorial and Arts Building.
Later, the library moved to the capitol building in Des Moines in 1894 and underwent an extensive and impressive renovation in the late 20th century.
Iowa Court Records Availability
Iowa court records can be found in the State Library of Iowa in Des Moines, as well as online. Volumes include state and federal statutes, case law, case histories, past opinions and oral arguments, treatises, abstracts, legal journals and law reviews, as well as legislative material. The main goal of the library is to serve lawmakers, government and attorneys, as well as the public.
The public is often interested in Iowa court records when they are searching for background information on a case or the court forms needed to represent themselves in court. Many of the court rules and forms are found online, and a catalog of recent and past case histories is also available.
Main Court Information
The Iowa Supreme Court has seven justices, serving eight-year terms. They are politically appointed and can serve subsequent terms. This court is the high court of the state, hearing appeals from all lower courts. It may then decide to send a case down to the court of appeals or keep it.
The Iowa Supreme Court was created in 1846 when Iowa became a state and its constitution was drafted. The Iowa General Assembly determined at that time that justices should serve six-year terms. In 1857, the constitution was amended to increase judicial districts to 11, and allowed the legislature to reorganize them every four years beginning in 1860.
There are no specific caseload statistics available for Iowa, but they do report that they receive approximately 2,000 filings on an annual basis. 30% of those cases are criminal appeals, 25% are parental rights and children in need of assistance and 20% are family law appeals.