How to Obtain Court Records in Connecticut
Documents generated by court decisions have the impact of law. Obtaining copies of court records helps the affected people understand the decision of the court and to comply with it. In Connecticut a unified judiciary system allows a streamlined process of searching for court documents from adoptions to divorce, inheritances, traffic infractions, bankruptcies, crime, and housing issues.
Most residents will only interact with Connecticut’s superior courts, which have jurisdiction over the everyday issues like small claims, traffic citations, evictions, juvenile justice, and petty crime. The superior courts have specialized divisions within them to handle civil, criminal, housing, and family issues. Above the superior courts are appellate courts which deal with disputes over superior court decisions. Sometimes a resident will need an appellate court document because that court may overturn the decision of the lower court, or change the sentence imposed.
What to expect
Under ordinary circumstances, a court record contains most of the information necessary to reconstruct the case, including complaints, pleadings, motions, and names of all involved including witnesses as well as court paperwork such as transcripts, summonses, search warrants, etc. Some court paperwork may be deemed confidential, including the identification of police informants, juvenile case files, private medical information, the identities of sexual assault or domestic violence victims, and other sensitive material. This website explains more about how to obtain case files, the cost of copying documents, and which information may not be included: https://www.jud.ct.gov/faq/courtrec.html#16.
Superior Court records
Within the superior courts are divisions to deal with housing issues like evictions and discrimination; family court that handles adoption, divorce, juvenile issues, and guardianships; criminal courts; and civil divisions that take care of small claims issues and lawsuits below a certain monetary threshold. Any request for records requires a case or docket number, the names of the people involved, dates, and charges or type of claim. This page allows people to search for that information: https://www.jud.ct.gov/jud2.htm. If more complete records are needed, a written request for records and/or transcripts may be sent to the clerk of the court where the case was handled. When you have the basic information to form a request for complete records, a directory of courts is located here: https://www.jud.ct.gov/directory/courthouses.htm.
Appellate Court records
The state appellate court acts as a check against incorrect decisions made by superior courts. Appellate courts may change a verdict or order the lower court to rehear a case. To search for the essential information in an appellate case, use the search function on the left side of this page: http://appellateinquiry.jud.ct.gov.
A certified copy of a divorce decree may be necessary for financial documents like mortgages and loans, to petition for a name change, for guardianship and custody, and in subsequent court cases. Get a copy of your divorce decree by requesting it from the clerk of the court where the divorce was granted.
The division of property following the death of the owner is handled by probate courts. If you are eligible to inherit property or want to find out about property inherited by someone else, you may request records of wills and assignment of property through the probate court with jurisdiction. Check this website to find out more about the probate process and how to request records: http://www.ctprobate.gov/Pages/Welcome.aspx.