How to Obtain Court Records in Louisiana
Louisiana’s judiciary consists of many different levels of limited jurisdiction courts, starting with justice of the peace ,mayor’s, parish, and city courts. All of these courts have limited jurisdiction over traffic matters and misdemeanors. Parishes are similar to counties in Louisiana; these and city courts also handle small claims issues and family matters.
The courts of general jurisdiction are district courts, which hold trials on criminal and civil issues. There are 42 judicial districts in the state, with at least one court per district. Probate courts are divisions within district courts (probate is called succession in Louisiana).
Above the district courts are five districts of appellate courts which hear disputes over lower court decisions (often called errors of law) including family court decisions, criminal and civil cases as well as interlocutory appeals from lower courts (these are advisory opinions that take place during a trial).
The state supreme court is at the top of the judicial hierarchy in Louisiana, deciding the constitutionality of state laws, hearing appeals of death penalty cases, and having supervision of the state bar and judiciary matters.
Requesting court records
There are circumstances under which it is important to have a copy of a court record, from proving your innocence to having protection orders enforced to showing that you’ve completed court-required probation or parole.
Getting copies of court records in Louisiana requires getting in touch with the clerk of the court where the case was heard. There currently is no central search engine for court records in the state, so use the information above to narrow your search for the right court, then use the directory on this page to contact the appropriate clerk: http://www.laclerksofcourt.org/clerksofcourt.htm.
A divorce decree lays out the terms of a dissolution of marriage including child custody arrangements, division of shared property, and name changes. To find a copy of your divorce decree, contact the family court where the divorce was granted using the court clerk directory here: http://www.laclerksofcourt.org/clerksofcourt.htm.
Probate or succession courts have jurisdiction over guardianships, estates, and distribution of property to heirs. In Louisiana, if there are updated beneficiaries on accounts and a will left by the deceased it is possible to bypass the probate process. To find out if an estate is in probate, contact the clerk of the court where the deceased person lived by using this list: http://www.laclerksofcourt.org/clerksofcourt.htm.
State courts do not have jurisdiction over personal or business bankruptcies. U.S. District Courts, which are federal courts, are located in each state and have oversight of federal law enforcement including the bankruptcy process, federal crimes, and suits that involve more than one state or residents of more than one state. To research federal court records, see https://www.pacer.gov/.