How to Obtain Court Records in Maine
Maine’s court system has several divisions with limited jurisdiction at the district court level: probate, small claims, family, drug court, and a special consumer and business court that resolves issues that arise between businesses and their customers. No jury trials are held by district courts.
Above these courts are superior courts which are the general trial courts in the state. Unlike most other states, there is no intermediate appellate court above the superior courts. The supreme judicial court handles appeals as well as advises state lawmakers on the constitutionality of legislation.
Why court records are important
Having a record of a court decision can help you enforce any court-ordered conditions, whether its child custody, a protection order, a civil award (reimbursement), or settlement. Court documents can also prove your innocence, show that you’ve successfully completed the terms of your probation or parole, or provide evidence that you’ve paid a fine.
Requesting court documents
Maine’s system for searching court documents involves mailing a form found on this page: http://www.courts.maine.gov/fees_forms/forms/pdf_forms/misc/records.shtml. There is a cost per name searched unless the person requesting the search is looking for his own records.
At times, court records will not be released to the public for privacy reasons, such as juvenile case records, records containing sensitive medical information, and the names of victims of certain crimes. Courts may withhold that information or redact it from records.
If you’ve been divorced, a copy of the official record can be important to keep for financial reasons, to change your name on accounts, to qualify for housing and other assistance, and more. You may get a copy of a divorce certificate through the state office of vital records here: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/public-health-systems/data-research/vital-records/order/order1.html#divorce. An official divorce decree may be necessary in some cases as it includes more in-depth information such as the terms of child custody and support, the length of alimony payments, and the division of shared property. A copy of the decree can be ordered through the process described on this page: http://www.courts.maine.gov/fees_forms/forms/pdf_forms/misc/records.shtml.
Probate records requests
A specialized division of district courts, there is a probate court in each of Maine’s 16 counties. These officials oversee guardianships, adoptions, name changes, and estates and trusts. In general, when a person dies and leaves property to heirs (or dies without heirs) the court administers the laws regarding distribution of finances and property. Some probate records may be searched on this page (and retrieved for a fee): http://www.maineprobate.net/index.html. For more information on probate courts as well as a directory of contact information by county, see this page: http://www.courts.maine.gov/citizen_help/probate_matters.html.
State courts do no handle bankruptcy cases, the U.S. District Court for the state does. This federal-level court also has jurisdiction over lawsuits between states, class action (multiparty) lawsuits, and violations of federal law. To search these records or bankruptcy records, see https://pcl.uscourts.gov/pcl/index.jsf.