How to Obtain Court Records in Washington
Municipal courts are found in nearly every Washington city and town to adjudicate violations of municipal ordinances like trespassing, health codes, building codes, and parking.
At the next level of the Washington judiciary, the district courts have jurisdiction over small claims cases, misdemeanors, and lawsuits valued up to $75,000. District courts are trial courts.
There are 32 superior courts in the state, with oversight of felony trials, family matters (divorce, custody, juvenile), probate (estates, wills, trusts), and civil cases over $50,000. These courts also hear appeals of decisions from district and municipal courts.
Above the superior courts is an intermediate court of appeals which hears disputes of lower court decisions. The state supreme court’s jurisdiction is derived from the state constitution, broadly defined as writs, the legality of laws, and appeals from lower courts, excluding only small claims issues under $200.
Requesting court documents
Washington makes searching for court cases easy, simply use this page to search in a variety of ways: https://dw.courts.wa.gov. However search results aren’t comprehensive; if you need an official document to execute an eviction, to show that you’ve completed your probation, or to enforce child custody provisions, you must use the search results to request a document from the clerk of the court where the case was decided. Use this directory to find the appropriate court clerk: http://www.courts.wa.gov/court_dir/.
The probate process ensures that the estate of a deceased person pays his or her creditors before any possessions or properties are passed along to heirs. Other duties of probate court officials may include guardianships and mental health issues. In order to search for probate records start with this page: https://dw.courts.wa.gov. Once you have the case number you may contact the clerk of the superior court where the individual lived, using this directory: http://www.courts.wa.gov/court_dir/. Be aware that some court records may contain confidential medical or other protected information and clerks may therefore not be able to provide full records.
Alimony, child custody and care, and shared property are all covered by the official agreement or decree that is written during divorce proceedings. A copy of this document can be helpful to enforce any provisions or to clarify roles. To request a copy of your decree, contact the clerk at the court where the divorce was granted using this directory: http://www.courts.wa.gov/court_dir/.
Federal courts, not state courts, administer bankruptcy cases when an individual or business is overwhelmed by debt. These U.S. District Courts are located in every state and also handle criminal cases and civil lawsuits. Use www.pacer.gov to research federal cases.