North Dakota Court Records
With the rise of technology and digital storage, there is ever-increasing accessibility to search for court records without a trip to the local law library or courthouse in person. The public and legal professionals use court records for a myriad of reasons, some for personal use such as searching the disposition of a criminal or civil case of a similar nature to the searcher, researching the history of a case before filing a new one, locating vital records, and even genealogical study.
North Dakota has a traditional court structure of a Supreme Court being the court of last resort, followed by a Court of Appeals, with District and Municipal Courts in several regions of the state. Each level of the judiciary system files motions and dispositions, later filed as court records.
History of North Dakota Courts
The Dakota Territory had its own Supreme Court, established in 1861 in the then-capital, Yankton. The early justices of the court were appointed at that time by the President of the United States Abraham Lincoln and later Ulysses S. Grant. When North Dakota was granted statehood in 1889, the state constitution named the Supreme Court the highest court of the state. It is located today in the capital city of Bismarck.
North Dakota Court Records Availability
It is possible to obtain criminal, civil, municipal, and traffic court records through an online search of the District Court by name, citation number or case number. In addition to online records, you may find the records in person at the office of the Clerk in the county where your case was filed.
Effective in 2001, legislature was passed for the Supreme Court to adopt new rules for the public access to court records. Administrative Rules 41 & 47 were established to protect the identity and security of persons mentioned in certain types of court cases such as juvenile court proceedings, mental health commitment, adoption and paternity, domestic violence protection order files, psychological evaluations and drug and alcohol treatment records are confidential under these rules.
Main Court Information
The North Dakota Supreme Court is staffed by a Chief Justice and four associate justices. It is the court of last resort in the state and hears appellate cases, oversees the interpretation of the state and federal Constitutions, and provides disciplinary action as necessary for judges and attorneys of North Dakota. The Court of Appeals, created in 1987, is also located in Bismarck and hears cases assigned to it by the Supreme Court.
The District Court is headquartered in Bismarck as well, but holds a divisional office in Fargo and two satellite offices: one in Minot and one in Grand Forks. This court has original and general jurisdiction in misdemeanor, felony, civil, and juvenile cases. There are 42 justices serving in the 52 counties which host District Courts.
The North Dakota Supreme Court considered 459 filings in the year 2014, of these, 390 cases were moved to disposition. From 2007 – 2014 the caseload has been fairly consistent with 2012 being the busiest year with 442 filings and 477 dispositions.