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HOW DO I SEARCH ALABAMA COURT RECORDS?

Under the Alabama Open Records Act, Code § 36-12-40, court records are deemed public records. This means the public can access court records maintained by the different bodies under the Alabama court system. These records are available in both electronic and paper formats. A requestor may access available Alabama Court records through any of the following channels:

  • Visit the local courthouse and request to inspect the paper copies
  • Visit the local courthouse to use the public terminal to view the electronic copies of available court records
  • Remotely access electronic court records via the internet (for courts that offer this service on its website)
  • Visit the Alabama Supreme Court and State Law Library for paper copies of appellate court records onthe first floor of the Heflin-Torbert Judicial Building at Alabama Supreme Court and State Law Library 300 Dexter Avenue Montgomery, AL 36104
  • Visit the State Law Library at the address provided above to use the public access computers

Note, court records restricted or sealed by law or court order are unavailable to the public for inspection or copying. To determine the location of a local courthouse, consider the Alabama Judicial Circuits Map. Select the county on the map to view the address. Copying available court records may be subject to a fee depending on the volume of the request. 

HOW TO GET ALABAMA COURT RECORDS ONLINE FOR FREE?

Obtainingofficial court records cost some fee, however, electronic copies of court records may offer relevant case information. Though not tenable for legal requirements, these online records offer an inexpensive way to access court records where available.

The public can access Alabama appellate courts' records via the ACIS portal. Users are required to register on the portal to able to access available information. There is also a monthly recurring subscription fee attached to accessing the platform.

The Alabama State trial court records are available through the Alabama Judicial system Just One Look portal. This is on-demand access provided to the public to search available court record a case at a time. It costs $10 to make each search on the portal. Requestors are to login to their account while new users are to sign up to use this tool. This tool affords its users to view court records by conducting a search using the

  • Name of the party
  • Case number

Court records are considered open to the public and are usually accessible through government sources, though they may also be accessed through third-party websites. These websites offer an easier method in most cases, as they are not limited by geographical area, or by limitations in search engine technology. They can often serve as a starting point when looking for a specific record, or multiple records. Interested parties must usually provide:

  • The name of the person listed in the record. This may not apply to records on juveniles.
  • The assumed or known location of the person listed in the record. This will most often be a city, county, or state.

Because they are not government-sponsored, record availability on third party websites may vary when compared to government sources.

HOW DOES THE ALABAMA COURT SYSTEM WORK?

Alabama court system operates a unified judicial system with two levels; the Appellate Court and the Trial Courts. The TrialCourt is made up of the Circuit Court, District Court, Probate Court, and the Municipal Court (as may be provided by law). The Alabama Supreme Court and Court of Appeals (Alabama Court of Criminal and Civil Appeal) make up the Appellate Court. The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court is the Chief Administrative Officer of the State Court System

All justices and judges, except forMunicipal Court judges, are elected by qualified voters within the jurisdiction. The Municipal Court judges are elected by the governing body and when the governing body abolishes it, jurisdiction transfers to the appropriate District Court.

The state is divided into 41 judicial circuits composed of all 67 counties; the District Court is divided into 67 districts; while there are 68 ProbateCourts, and 278 Municipal courts. The state has just a single SupremeCourt which serves as the court of highest jurisdiction. The Alabama Court of Appeals is subdivided into the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals and the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. The Appellate Courts operate within a single location at 300 Dexter Avenue, Montgomery, Alabama 36104.

The State Trial Courts decides over 1.2 million cases annually while the Appellate Court decides about 3,600 cases annually.

HOW DOES THE ALABAMA CIRCUITCOURT WORK?

The Circuit Court is the trial court of general jurisdiction in the state. The CircuitCourt is divided into 41 judicial Circuits. The court has exclusive jurisdiction over:

  • All felonies
  • Civil actions exceeding $10,000
  • Domestic relations

The Circuit Court shares concurrent jurisdiction with the District Court in juvenile cases, and civil matters between $6,000 and $10,000. The Circuit Court is made up of 144 judges elected into office by the qualified voters within the respective judicial Circuitof the court jurisdiction for a six-year term. Only the Circuit court conduct a jury trial.

HOW DOES THE ALABAMA DISTRICT COURT WORK?

The District Court is a court of limited jurisdiction divided into 67 districts. The court is made up of 106 judges elected to serve a term of six years by the qualified voters within the judicial district of the court's respective jurisdiction. Unlike the CircuitCourt where all trials are jury trials, all District Court trials are conducted without a trial. Sessions of the District Court are required to be held in each county seat of each judicial district. The District Court handles the following cases:

  • Misdemeanors
  • Small claims
  • Civil matters not exceeding $6,000

HOW DOES THE ALABAMA PROBATE COURT WORK?

The ProbateCourt is a court of limited jurisdiction. There are 68 Probate Courts in the state of Alabama staffed by 68 judges. The judges of the Probate Court are elected by qualified voters within the court jurisdiction to serve aterm of sixyears. The court has the power to handle the following cases:

  • Wills
  • Administration of estates
  • Guardianship of minors and incompetent
  • Partition of lands
  • Name changes

HOW DOES THE ALABAMA MUNICIPAL COURT WORK?

The Municipal Courts are created if any municipality in the State of Alabama elects to have its court proceedings. If they are created, the Municipal Court is a court of limited jurisdiction. There are 278 Municipal Court headed by 297 Municipal Judges. These Judges of the Municipal Courts are appointed by the governing body of the Municipality. Full-time Municipal Court judges are appointed for a four-year term, while part-time Municipal judges are appointed for a two-year term.

HOW DOES THE ALABAMA FAMILY COURT WORK?

The Family Court division is a unified court system created to effectively handle all juvenile and family law issues in one court. This is to serve families more efficiently. The family court also handles the following area for the Alabama Judicial System:

  • Juvenile Probation Services
  • Access and Visitation Grant Program
  • Court Improvement Program Grants
  • Judicial Volunteer Program
  • Child Support/Referees
  • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Grant

The family court division is present in the following counties:Calhoun, Cleburne, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Jefferson, Lee, Madison, Marshall, Mobile, Montgomery, Russell, and Tuscaloosa.

WHAT ARE ALABAMA APPELLATE COURTS?

Alabama Supreme Court is the highest court of jurisdiction charged with both judicial and administrative responsibilities. The SupremeCourt is made up of nine justices headed by the Chief Justice working in conjunction with eight Associate Justices. Justices of the Supreme Court are elected to six years term in a statewide election. The Supreme Court as the highest court has the authority to make administrative rules and regulations to govern practice and procedure in all courts in the state.

To facilitate a quick decision-making process, the SupremeCourt is divided into two divisions. Each decision making session of the court is presided over by afour-member panel including theAssociate Justice and the Chief Justice. The Chief Justice sits on both divisions. If at any point a panel fails to agree on a decision, the case must be decided before the entire 9-member Justices.

The Alabama Court ofAppeals also has two divisions; one handles the criminal appeals and the other handles the civil appeals. Both Court of Appeals handles cases coming from the CircuitCourt and the Probate court. The judges of the Court of Appeals are elected for a term of six years.

  • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals- it is a five-judge court, headed by a presiding judge. This court has exclusive jurisdiction over all criminal appeals, post-conviction writs, and remedial writs from criminal trial court.
  • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals- the court is composed of 4 associate judges and a presiding judge. it has exclusive jurisdiction to hear civil appeals not exceeding $50,000, workers compensation, domestic relations, and certain civil appeals deflected from the Alabama Supreme Court, along with all appeals from administrative agencies (excluding the Public Service Commission)

WHAT IS THE ALABAMA APPELLATE MEDIATION PROGRAM?

This is an alternative method of resolving disputes as opposed to litigation. It was created to resolve disputes early in the appeal process. Since the SupremeCourt adopted the Alabama rules of appellate mediation, it has been taken civil appeals directly. The Appellate Mediation Program has jurisdiction over all appeals within the purview of the Alabama Supreme Court and the Court of Civil Appeals.

When a case is appealed, after passing the screening phase it may be referred or ordered to go through mediation. In the 2018 fiscal year, 55% of Supreme Court cases referred to the program reached a settlement while 47% of the cases from the Court of Civil Appeals were settled.

WHAT ARE ALABAMA SPECIALTY COURTS?

The Alabama Judicial System also provides for Specialty Courts which include Drug Courts, Mental Health Courts,and Veterans Courts. The Drug courts are a creation of the judiciary to intervene and break the cycle of substance abuse, addiction, and crime in the State of Alabama. There are presently 55 adult Drug Courts operating in 67 counties. Also, the state has other problem-solving courts modeled after the Drug Courts. This includes Family and Juvenile Drug Courts, Veteran Courts, and Mental Health Courts.

HOW MANY CASES DOES THE ALABAMA COURT SYSTEM HANDLE ANNUALLY?

In recent years, over 1.2 million cases are filed in the state of Alabama trial courts annually. In the 2018 fiscal year, the total number of cases filed at the CircuitCourt was 205,691 which represents 42,194 civil cases, 90,431 criminal cases, 49,115 domestic cases, juvenile, and child support cases. In that same year, the District Court caseload was over 600, 000; this represents 162, 941 criminal cases, 35,034 civil cases, 262, 538 traffic cases, small claims, juvenile, and child support.

The Court of Appeals in that same year handled about 2400 appeal cases, where a total of 1,819 dispositions were made. About half of the Court of Appeals' decisions, which stands at 1,224 cases, were thereafter handled to the Alabama SupremeCourt for review. The SupremeCourt issued a total of 1,232 dispositions.

Alabama SupremeCourt Total Filings, Fiscal Year 2014 Through 2018

FY2014 FY2015 FY2016 FY2017 FY2018
Total Filings 1,526 1436 1,372 1,179 1,224
Total Disposition 1,657 1,499 1,408 1,232 1,232

Data provided by the Alabama Judiciary

Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals Total Filings, Fiscal Year 2014 Through 2018

FY2014 FY2015 FY2016 FY2017 FY2018
Cases from Prior Term 1,035 1,453 986 806 710
New Filings 1,962 1,499 1,517 1,357 1,248
Total Disposition 1,035 986 806 710 573

Data provided by the Alabama Judiciary

Court of Civil Appeals Total Filings, Fiscal Year 2014 Through 2018

FY2014 FY2015 FY2016 FY2017 FY2018
Cases from Prior Term 665 625 576 476 573
New Filings 1,097 1,072 1,018 1,086 1,168
Total Disposition 1,137 1,121 1,118 989 1,246

Data provided by the Alabama Judiciary

Alabama Circuit Court Total Filings, Fiscal Year 2014 Through 2018

Criminal Civil Domestic Juvenile Child Support Total
Felony other Original Modification
FY2014 40,243 34,717 41,376 33,303 19,118 19,118 20,273 203,388
FY2015 42,554 35,125 38,224 33,469 17,574 17,574 18,540 199,929
FY2016 44,236 37,391 35,753 33,574 17,191 17,191 17,550 200,073
FY2017 46,040 38,320 38,477 33,970 17,398 17,398 15,115 201,550
FY2018 49,329 41,102 42,194 32,615 16,500 16,500 13,109 205,691
Dispositions
FY2014 42,279 34,071 42,475 32,796 13,888 19,176 25,978 210,663
FY2015 42,955 34,586 40,752 33,852 14,531 17,252 23,997 207,925
FY2016 44,137 37,862 36,259 33,520 14,094 17,362 17,467 200,701
FY2017 47,204 38,903 36,450 33,536 12,917 17,168 16,826 203,004
FY2018 47,557 40,848 39,826 32,902 11,419 16,285 15,407 204,244

Data provided by the Alabama Judiciary

Alabama District Court Total Filings, Fiscal Year 2014 Through 2018

Traffic Criminal Small Claims Civil Juvenile Child Support Total
FY2014 314,993 150,698 84,442 41,271 22,690 23,634 637,728
FY2015 296,885 143,643 78,731 39,542 22,676 24,349 605,826
FY2016 300,390 150,832 85,243 33,054 23,348 25,207 618,074
FY2017 288,092 160,335 99,006 34,200 23,785 19,225 624,643
FY2018 262,538 162,941 103,529 35,034 23,985 16,259 604,286
Dispositions
FY2014 315,057 147,672 82,490 40,693 21,689 22,887 630,488
FY2015 304,562 143,425 81,821 41,729 22,213 23,186 616,936
FY2016 295,839 149,221 82,758 35,465 22,275 23,461 609,019
FY2017 291,945 159,218 89,787 32,652 21,700 21,173 616,475
FY2018 257,807 160,245 100,306 33,761 22,562 15,968 590,649

Data provided by the Alabama Judiciary

Alabama Municipal Court Total Filings, Fiscal Year 2014 Through 2018

DUI Traffic Non-Traffic Total
FY2014 7,829 416,940 152,966 577,735
FY2015 7,770 346,347 87,737 441,854
FY2016 5,860 287,629 73,939 367,428
FY2017 6,633 285,240 73,090 364,963
FY2018 5,905 323,274 72,093 401,272
Dispositions
FY2014 8,359 403,904 120,183 532,446
FY2015 7,284 339,741 83,770 430,795
FY2016 5,637 273,677 67,263 346,577
FY2017 6,138 261,364 66,630 334,132
FY2018 5,033 294,099 64,952 364,084

Data provided by the Alabama Judiciary

First names in Alabama