How to Obtain Court Records in Minnesota
Conciliation courts are the lowest rung of Minnesota’s judicial system, handling only civil cases (small claims) that are valued under $10,000 and is a division of district courts, which are the general trial courts of the state. District courts handle civil and criminal trials and include divisions for family, juvenile, and probate.
Above the district courts are the courts of appeals which hear disputes over district court decisions (except first degree murder) and some administrative agency decisions. The state supreme court hears appeals of first degree murder conviction as well as some district court decisions that aren’t delegated to the appeals court. The supreme court also hears appeals of tax court cases and workers compensation agency decisions.
Obtaining court records
Minnesota makes two records retrieval options available: on-site searches at district courthouses and remote searches. The on-site computer terminals return more complete information than the remote searches, and may reveal information that is not available at all through remote searches.
Confidential information contained in records may limit their ability. Among other reasons, the names of victims of certain crimes, juvenile cases, and medical information are likely to be restricted.
To search records at a district court computer terminal, use this directory of courts to find one near you: http://www.mncourts.gov/Find-Courts.aspx. To use the at-home search function, go to this page: http://pa.courts.state.mn.us/default.aspx.
Divorce decrees are important documents when it comes to custody issues, division of shared property, applying for housing, and name changes. This page provides general information about divorce in Minnesota: http://www.mncourts.gov/Help-Topics/Divorce.aspx. To get a copy of your divorce decree, make a request at the court where your divorce was granted using this form: http://www.mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/fourth_district/documents/forms/Document_Copy_Request_Form.pdf.
In general, probate courts oversee guardianships, adoption, wills and estates. When a person dies the division of his estate and distribution among heirs (if any) is overseen by probate court. To inquire about probate records, contact the clerk of the court where the individual lived. This page provides more information about Minnesota probate regulations: http://www.mncourts.gov/Help-Topics/Probate-Wills-and-Estates.aspx.
These records are not kept by Minnesota courts but by the U.S. District Court with jurisdiction in the part of Minnesota where the individual lives. These federal courts also handle criminal cases and lawsuits between states. To search for bankruptcy records, use this link: https://pcl.uscourts.gov/pcl/index.jsf.