How to Obtain Court Records in South Dakota
South Dakota magistrate courts are in charge of small claims and civil cases under $12,000, criminal arraignment, and misdemeanor issues. The authority of the court depends on whether there’s a magistrate clerk or a magistrate judge presiding.
Above magistrate courts are circuit courts which have jurisdiction over all criminal and civil trials and hear appeals of magistrate court decisions. Appeals of circuit court decisions are heard by the state supreme court as there is no intermediate appellate court in this state. The supreme court also handles questions of constitutionality, appeals of administrative agency decisions, and oversight of the state bar.
Requesting court documents
The state allows court records to be searched but considers civil and criminal searches different, charging a fee for one while making the other free. To access the search engine, try this page: http://ujs.sd.gov/Self_Help_Center/recordsearch.aspx. This page provides links to contact the clerks of the circuit courts once you have identified the records you want to request: http://ujs.sd.gov/Circuit_Court/default.aspx.
Some court records may be considered confidential due to the nature of the information, such as medical records, juvenile court documents, or the names of crime victims. Clerks may withhold or redact some information due to privacy concerns.
When a marriage ends in divorce, the decree is the document that spells out how children will be cared for, how shared property should be divided, and whether either party will change his or her name. To access a decree, contact the clerk of the court where the divorce was granted using this page: http://ujs.sd.gov/Circuit_Court/default.aspx.
When an individual dies, his property is divided and passed to heirs under the supervision of a probate judge. Probate courts may also have jurisdiction over guardianships, mental health cases, adoptions, and more. Use the search engine to find the case http://ujs.sd.gov/Self_Help_Center/recordsearch.aspx then contact the clerk of the court where the person lived to request documents.
Federal courts oversee the process of bankruptcy, state courts do not. Each state has a U.S. District Court to oversee bankruptcies, federal criminal trials, and civil lawsuits involving multiple states. To research federal cases go to www.pacer.gov.