A&A: Accessing Court Dispositions

Q: I am trying to get the court disposition from a case in 1993 in Sacramento and a 2000 case in St. Louis, Missouri. Who or where do I get this info from?

A: I would suggest calling the clerk’s office at each of these courts to ask if you might be able to access the court files, which should contain the disposition of each case,online.  For example, Sacramento Superior Court has an online access system (https://ift.tt/2DFbqWk) that allows the public to search court cases for a fee.  Of course, you will probably want to confirm with the clerk’s office just how far back its online system goes, since the system may only contain court records created after a certain date.

Even if you cannot access these records online, you might ask the clerk’s office if you can get copies of portions of the records without an in-person visit.  If the court requires an in-person visit to view the court file, you could, of course, travel to each court in person to access the files, or see if there is a court runner service that could do this for you.  In any event, you should be able to view the court files from these two cases, as there is a presumptive First Amendment right of access to such records.  I would just make sure to call the clerk’s office in advance to ask how you can get your hands on these files.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP is general counsel for the First Amendment Coalition and responds to FAC hotline inquiries. In responding to these inquiries, we can give general information regarding open government and speech issues but cannot provide specific legal advice or representation.  No attorney-client relationship has been formed by way of this response.

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