How to Obtain Court Records in Idaho
Obtaining court records in Idaho is getting easier as the state adopts a searchable online system for finding and requesting records. The system is under construction at this location: https://icourt.idaho.gov/projfaq. Until it is operable, having an understanding of the Idaho judiciary is necessary to finding the correct court records.
Each county in Idaho has a district court. Within the district courts are magistrate courts which handle the smallest of legal issues, including traffic infractions, small claims under $10,000, misdemeanors, municipal violations, probate, juvenile, family court, and the like. District court proper hold trials for criminal and civil cases and deal with lawsuits that represent more than $10,000 in value.
The district courts are arranged in seven judicial districts for administrative purposes. Above the district courts are appellate courts that are assigned cases by the state supreme court. These reviews of lower court decisions are heard by three-judge panels. The supreme court has final say over cases from lower courts as well as the constitutional legitimacy of laws created by state legislatures.
Requesting court records
Using the guidelines above, determine which court likely holds the records you seek. To request records, contact the clerk of the court where the records are held. This link will help locate the contact information for each district court: https://isc.idaho.gov/main/local-district-courts.
Some records are available from the state Repository through the following website: https://www.idcourts.us/repository/start.do. These are likely to have minimal information such as names of those involved and dates of hearings. To get more in-depth records information, the same page includes instruction on submitting a request for “extended access” with proper justification.
Probate court records
Probate records include wills, estates, lists of heirs, and descriptions of property transferred upon the death of the owner. Probate courts may also handle guardianships, estates, and some elderly affairs. Property records handled in probate matters should be publicly available, but some other probate information may be kept confidential due to state laws covering medical and personal information. To research probate records, contact the clerk of the court in the county where the person lived.
Finding divorce records
Vital records may be ordered on this website, but divorce records are held by the courts rather than the state department of health or vital records. Request a divorce certificate or decree at the court where the divorce was granted. Other helpful information can be found here, including links to some court clerks for requesting divorce records: https://www.idaho.gov/family-records/divorce/.
State courts do not oversee bankruptcy filings, those are located in U.S. District Courts with federal jurisdiction. These courts also have jurisdiction over crimes that cross state lines, class action lawsuits involving residents of multiple states, and other issues under federal law. To search U.S. District Court cases, see this page: https://pcl.uscourts.gov/pcl/index.jsf.
Native court records
Nearly 2 million acres of Idaho is occupied by Native American reservations, which have their own court systems. To research records held by the Coeur d’Alene tribe, see http://www.cdatribe-nsn.gov/tribaldepts/justice.aspx; the Nez Perce tribal court can be accessed here: http://www.nezperce.org/official/tribalcourt.htm.