How to Obtain Court Records in Colorado
Water courts are a subset of the judiciary in Colorado that has particular importance there: the rights to water usage for agriculture and ranching is crucial and may not follow land sales or transfers.
Other than water courts, Colorado’s court structure is very similar to that in other states: there are county courts that handle civil cases concerning amounts under $15,000, small claims, some domestic issues, and minor criminal cases. Above the county courts are district courts that hold trials, handle felony cases, juvenile issues, family court (such as divorces), and probate. Above the trial courts is the court of appeals, which hears cases from lower courts that are disputed, and has the power to overturn sentences or order a retrial. State supreme court hears appeals of lower court cases. For more information on the court system in Colorado, see https://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Index.cfm.
Requesting Colorado court records
Unlike a few other states, Colorado does not currently have a system of searchable digital court record information (but some subscription services may provide the necessary information). Using the above information about state court structure, the first step is to determine which court holds the records you are seeking. Individual counties may have their own searchable records.
Clerks in the courts can provide further guidance about making a records request, including the information that must be included in the request and whether it can be emailed or must be written out and mailed. This directory may be helpful in locating the court in the proper county: https://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/County/Choose.cfm.
Water rights may be searched through the following page, including deed records: http://water.state.co.us/DataMaps/RecordsResearch/Pages/default.aspx.
Confidentiality laws are likely to limit the information available on juvenile records, domestic disputes, sex crimes like rape, and cases involving medical information. Courts may redact or restrict access to such records because they are not allowed to release certain information about individuals involved in cases.
Probate and land court records
Probate is the process of dividing property among heirs after the death of the property owner. Colorado has digitized some of its probate records, allowing a limited opportunity to search by name. Use this website to begin a search: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/archives/probate-records.
For land records, particularly those not in the probate database, it’s necessary to search by county. A list of the clerk/recorders for each county can be found on this page: https://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/Resources/files/CountyClerkRosterWebsite.pdf.