How do you find a case in a Court of Appeals?

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In most cases, civil and criminal court proceedings are public record. Whether you are a defendant checking the status of your case, an attorney researching the details of a trial, or simply someone looking to browse, all the information you need is at the touch of your fingertips.

Each case is assigned a docket number. You can use this number to easily search for a case and access all court materials involved in the case, including hearings, filings, decisions etc.

How do you find a case in the California Court of Appeals?

Defendants can find their docket number on their case documents. Those who don’t have access to these documents can find the docket number by reaching out to the court clerk. As long as you can provide the party’s name and county where the case is being heard, a court clerk can quickly access the number for you. Once you have identified a case’s docket number, you can search for the case on the California Court of Appeals’ website.

While using a docket number is the easiest way to find a case, there are other ways to access such information. Many websites, like Findlaw or Justia, offer free, online access to all California appellate court decisions. You can also use case law databases to find case information. Programs like Google Scholar allow you to search for cases by subject, location, or year.

Why would I need to look up court records?

In some cases, depending on the type of law that is in play, it is important to know the following:

  • Has a case been filed against you, or a family member?
  • Does a case have a pending status? Specifically, in another state that you may not living in?
  • Custody issue in your current state or in another state if you moved out of state after separating from your partner.
  • Check the status of your divorce, this is one of the most common reasons.

You may not be able to see records that are published online

Some sites may only let you see the record if you have the case number or if you are mentioned on the case. Also depending on the site you visit you may need to be a lawyer that has passed the bar in the state that the cases is in. If you are having any issues finding your case then you should reach out to your lawyer and their staff should be able to help you find the info you need.

Finding the records you may need

It all depends on the state. A good amount of states have one database for all records. Then there are states that only have their records online and are divided by county. Lookout for websites which ask for payment. A lot of these sites are just pulling information from sites that you can find for free.

To learn more about effective appeal arguments, check out

Story by Aaron Spolin

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