Vermont Court Records
The state of Vermont has a rather simple and streamlined judiciary system which involves only three types of courts: the Supreme Court, Superior Courts, and the Vermont Judicial Bureau. Each one of these entities must provide documentation of court proceedings which are later turned into publically accessible court records.
The steady increase of digital storage capacities and rise of Internet accessibility has worked well for the public and law professionals alike who seek availability of Vermont court records. Whether for genealogical research, understanding the statutes when filing a new case, uncovering vital records, or for educational purposes, court records are a useful resource of the state.
History of Vermont Court Records
The history of the Vermont Supreme Court begins in 1777 when the constitution called for a court of justice in every county of the state. A Superior Court was organized with a Chief Justice and four additional judges. In 1782 the Superior Court was dismantled and a Supreme Court took its place with one elected Chief Justice and four or 5 other judges. It was in 1797 that the requirements were changed from oral opinions to those that must be written for each case, hence Vermont court records were born and have been kept ever since.
Vermont Court Records Availability
Vermont’s law library is located next to the Capitol Building in Montpelier and boasts an impressive collection of court records, historical documents and legal resources. There are professional librarians on staff to assist with criminal and civil court records searches. Another fantastic resource is the Cornell Library at Vermont Law. While this is library is designed for students and faculty, the law requires public access to the government documents collection, including court records.
Online records can also be found for civil and small claims of the Vermont courts. The State Library has an online division specifically for document retrieval of recent Supreme Court decisions and is updated weekly. Also the District of Vermont offers a database searchable by judge or year for cases from 2000-present.
Main Court Information
The Supreme Court of Vermont is the highest of the land and deemed the court of last resort for the state. Not only does the Supreme Court serve as an appellate court, it holds the responsibility of administering the court system, provides disciplinary action as necessary to state justices and attorneys, as well as admits each attorney to practice law in the state.
The trial courts of Vermont are known as Superior Courts and are broken into three divisions with each hearing cases respective to their jurisdiction. The cell division oversees civil cases, such as small claims, eviction, and breach of contract, foreclosure and personal injury. The criminal division hears cases of a criminal nature, some civil disputes, appeals from the Vermont Judicial Bureau and lastly fish and wildlife violations. The family division of the Superior Court oversees matters such as child custody, divorce, domestic abuse, juvenile abuse or delinquency, and mental health commitments. Finally, the Judicial Bureau follows up on citations written by state or local law enforcement.
Vermont’s Supreme Court caseload has remained stable over the last several years with 513 filings and 475 dispositions in 2013 compared to 530 filings and 571 dispositions in 2007.