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HOW DO I SEARCH ALASKA COURT RECORDS?

Alaska court records are kept by different divisions of the state judicial system. These divisions make court records available to the public on request in compliance with the Alaska Public Record Act. Court records are kept in electronic and paper formats. Certain court records may not be available due to a court-ordered sealing or expunction. To obtain available court records in Alaska, requestors may:

  • Visit the local courthouse to inspect or copy to obtain a paper copy
  • Complete a mail-in request for copies of a court record
  • Remotely access the Alaska Courts website to view case information

To locate a local courthouse, use the directory of courts provided on the Alaska Court System website. Court records may cost some nominal fee to copy at each local courthouse.

HOW DO I OBTAIN ALASKA COURT RECORDS ONLINE FOR FREE?

Obtaining Alaska court records attract a fee. Case information of court records may be viewed online for free though. To obtain actual court documents or certified copies of court records, a visit to the local courthouse where the record is on file will be necessary.

The public can access electronic copies of case information from the trial courts and appellate courts in Alaska through the Alaska Court website. The CourtView portal on the website provides online access to case information from 1990 originating from the Superior and District Courts in Alaska. CourtView allows users to search for a court record by: 

  • Case number
  • Name
  • Ticket/Citation

To search by the name option, requestors will be required to specify both the last name and the first name, or the company/business name involved in the case. Other filter fields for a more precise search result include middle name, date of birth, case type, case status, and date of death.

To search by the ticket/citation option, users will be required to provide the ticket number, the driver's license and the state-issued, or the vehicle license and the state-issued.

To access appellate case records from the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court in Alaska, requestors may use the appellate case management system search tool on the Alaska Court website. This online platform allows users to search for court records with three options:

  • Case number
  • Party name
  • Attorney name or Attorney bar number

Note that both platforms only provide access to case record information. To access older and complete court records, requestors have to pay appropriate fees and visit the relevant courthouse to obtain paper copies. Certified copies cost $10 for the first copy and $3 for each additional certified copy. Exemplified copies cost $15 each.

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, borough, or state.

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

HOW DOES THE ALASKA COURT SYSTEM WORK?

Alaska runs a unified court system in which operations of the lower courts of the state are supervised by the highest court, the Supreme Court. There are four levels of courts in Alaska namely; The Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Superior Courts, and the District Courts.

The majority of cases begin and end in the District Courts and the Superior Courts, which are the trial courts. The appellate courts are the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, hence both may review the judgments of the trial courts.

Judges in Alaska Courts are chosen in non-partisan elections and are required to face a retain-remove ballot at the expiration of their initial terms. Another branch of the Alaska judicial system, the Alaska Judicial Council appraises applicants and selects nominees from which the Governor of Alaska makes an appointment.

WHAT ARE ALASKA TRIAL COURTS?

Trial courts in Alaska consist of a court of general jurisdiction, the Superior Court, and a court of limited jurisdiction, the District Courts. Alaska trial courts are organized into four judicial districts with each district administered by a presiding judge.

At the beginning of each calendar year, the Chief Justice of the Alaska Supreme Court assigns four Superior Court Judges from each of the judicial districts to serve as the presiding judge over each district for that calendar year. The presiding judge is empowered to assign cases, appoint magistrate judges, and oversee court operations within the district of service.

Alaska Judicial District divisions are:

  • First District: Angoon, Haines, Hoonah, Juneau, Kake, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Prince of Wales, Sitka, Skagway, Wrangell, Yakutat
  • Second District: Kotzebue, Nome, Unalakleet, Utqiagvik
  • Third District: Anchorage, Cordova, Dillingham, Glennallen, Homer, Kenai, Kodiak, Naknek, Palmer, Seward, Unalaska, Valdez
  • Fourth District: Aniak, Bethel, Delta Junction, Emmonak, Fairbanks, Fort Yukon, Galena, Hooper Bay, Nenana, Tok.

HOW DOES THE ALASKA SUPERIOR COURT WORK?

Alaska Superior Courts are the trial courts of general jurisdiction for all civil and criminal cases except in cases that are filed directly with the Supreme Court. Superior Courts are also authorized to handle appeals of civil and criminal cases from the District Courts. Other jurisdictions of the Superior Courts include:

  • Juvenile matters
  • Mental Health cases
  • Matters involving the property of incompetent or deceased persons
  • Domestic relation matters
  • Guardianships and conservatorships issues

There are 42 Superior Court Judges in Alaska.

HOW DOES THE ALASKA DISTRICT COURT WORK?

Alaska District Courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. The court has District Judges and Magistrate Judges who serve in the four judicial districts. Magistrate Judges serve in the second judicial district while District Judges serve in the first, third, and fourth judicial districts. In comparison with the District Judges, Magistrate Judges have restricted power. Magistrate Judges are not required to be attorneys but are empowered to handle:

  • Municipal ordinance violations
  • Trials and enter judgment in misdemeanor cases (if a defendant agrees in writing to be tried by a magistrate judge)
  • Issuing of arrest warrant, search warrants, and summonses
  • Preliminary hearings in felony offenses
  • Formal civil cases (where the amount does not exceed $10,000)
  • Small claims cases (where the amount in question does not exceed $10,000, and $20,000 for wage claims brought by the Department of Labor)
  • Domestic violence matters
  • Cases involving children on an emergency basis
  • Conduct extradition proceedings

Magistrate Judges may serve in multiple court locations and sometimes help lighten the workload on District Court Judges. 

District Judges are the judges with more authority and jurisdiction in the District Courts. They are empowered to handle:

  • Inquests and presumptive death hearings
  • Civil cases involving claims that do not exceed $100,000 per defendant
  • First appearances and preliminary hearings in felony cases
  • State misdemeanor and minor offenses
  • Violations of city borough ordinances
  • Issuing of summonses, arrest and search warrants
  • Domestic violence cases
  • Small claims cases (where the amount does not exceed $10,000 in the majority of cases and $20,000 in wage claims from the Department of Labor)
  • Cases involving children on an emergency basis

Twenty-three District Court Judges are serving in first, third, and fourth judicial districts.

HOW DOES THE ALASKA COURT OF APPEALS WORK?

The Alaska Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court in the state and has jurisdiction over matters relating to:

  • Criminal prosecutions
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Extradition
  • Post-conviction relief
  • Habeas corpus
  • Probation and parole
  • Bail

Appeals of judgments from the Superior Courts and the District Courts in criminal cases are mandated to be heard by the Court of Appeals as a matter of right. The court may, however, exercise discretionary jurisdiction over matters such as:

  • Petitions for review of non-final orders from the trial courts
  • Petitions for the hearing of final appellate decisions of the Superior Court on review of the District Court's decisions
  • Original applications in matters for which relief cannot be obtained from the court through one of the above methods

Alaska Court of Appeals consists of a Chief Judge and two Associate Judges. The Chief Judge is appointed to a two-year term by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

HOW DOES THE ALASKA SUPREME COURT WORK?

The Supreme Court is the court of last resort in the state and therefore has the final say on legal matters in the state. Appeals from all the lower courts in the state may be heard in the Supreme Court. The court has mandatory and discretionary jurisdictions over different types of cases. The Supreme Court is obliged to accept appeals of final decisions on civil cases originating from the Superior Courts and administrative agencies

The Court may, however, exercise discretionary jurisdiction over:

  • Petitions for the hearing of final appellate decisions of criminal cases from the Court of Appeals or civil cases from the Superior Courts
  • Petitions for review of non-final orders by the Court of Appeals in criminal cases and Superior Courts in civil cases
  • Original applications in matters for which relief is not possible through the above procedures. Such include the admission of attorneys into the state legal bar, disciplinary matters for attorneys, and questions of state law certified from the federal courts.

The Alaska Supreme Court consists of a Five-Justice panel. The panel selects one of its members by majority vote to serve a three-year term as the Chief Justice. Chief Justice terms are not renewable. The Supreme Court meets in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, and sometimes in other communities in Alaska. The court's decisions are made known to the public as an Opinion, Memorandum Opinion, and Judgment, or an Order.

HOW MANY CASES DOES THE ALASKA COURT SYSTEM HANDLE ANNUALLY?

Approximately 120,000 cases are filed annually in Alaska trial courts. In the 2019 fiscal year, Alaska recorded 23,402 new case filings in the Superior Courts, and 96,228 new cases in the District Courts to make a total of 119,630 new case filings in all of its trial courts. In the previous fiscal year, a total of 122,566 new case filings were recorded. Of the 2018 fiscal year figures in the trial courts, the Superior Courts recorded 24,098 new cases, and the District Courts recorded 98,518 new cases. Between 2015 and 2019, the highest record for new filings in Alaska trial courts came in the 2015 fiscal year where a total of 135,324 new cases were filed in both the Superior and District Courts. 119,630 cases and 122,566 cases were disposed of in the 2019 and 2018 fiscal years respectively.

In the 2019 fiscal year, the Court of Appeals recorded 256 new filings and 342 dispositions. During the 2018 fiscal year, 299 new filings and 310 dispositions were recorded. The Supreme Court recorded 353 new filings and 433 dispositions in the 2019 fiscal year. In the 2018 fiscal year, the record was 382 new filings and 371 dispositions. Also, the Supreme Court published 126 full opinions, 45 Memorandum opinions, and published 3 orders.

Alaska Supreme Court Case Filings and Dispositions: FY 2015 - 2019

FY 2015 FY 2016 FY 2017 FY 2018 FY 2019
Civil Appeals 213 206 224 193 166
Petitions for hearing 78 98 94 109 114
Petitions for Review 52 74 57 61 54
Bar/Original applications 19 19 15 19 19
Total New Filings 362 397 390 382 353
DISPOSITIONS
Civil appeals 222 232 186 180 238
Petitions for hearing 72 104 81 114 111
Petitions for review 62 63 63 61 62
Bar/Original applications 17 23 14 16 22
Total Dispositions 373 422 344 371 433
PUBLISHED
Full opinions 95 95 71 72 126
Memorandum opinions 40 45 49 43 45
Orders 3 9 4 6 3
Totals 138 149 124 121 174

Data provided by the Alaska Judicial Branch

Alaska Court of Appeals – Case Filings and Dispositions, FY 2015 – 2019

FY 2015 FY 2016 FY 2017 FY 2018 FY 2019
Merit Appeals 243 232 183 233 182
Sentence Appeals 41 46 32 26 23
Petitions 36 30 34 33 36
Original applications/bail appeals 3 5 4 7 15
Total New Filings 323 313 253 299 256
DISPOSITIONS
Merit appeals 220 222 216 235 248
Sentence appeals 34 36 39 31 37
Petitions 41 33 25 36 42
Original applications/bail appeals 5 3 4 8 15
Total Dispositions 300 294 284 310 342
PUBLISHED
Full opinions 26 47 52 47 43
Memorandum opinions 131 158 131 161 204
Totals 157 205 183 208 247

Data provided by the Alaska Judicial Branch

Statewide Caseload for All Trial Courts in Alaska: FY 2015 - 2019

FY 2015 FY 2016 FY 2017 FY 2018 FY 2019
Superior Courts 23,259 23,189 22,938 24,048 23,402
District Courts 112,065 96,674 98,055 98,518 96,228
Total filings 135,324 119,863 120,993 122,566 119,630

Data provided by the Alaska Judicial Branch

Total Superior Court Case Filings and Disposition FY 2015 – 2019

FY 2015 FY 2016 FY 2017 FY 2018 FY 2019
FILINGS
1st District 2,225 2,141 2,066 2,433 2,201
2nd District 1,100 1,065 1,204 1,265 1,174
3rd District 15,904 16,074 15,688 16,406 16,025
4th District 4,030 3,909 3,980 3,944 4,002
Total New Filings 23,259 23,189 22,938 24,048 23,402
DISPOSITIONS
1st District 2,200 2,161 2,102 2,175 2,130
2nd District 1,068 992 1,096 1,125 1,042
3rd District 14,830 15,367 14,685 15,559 15,169
4th District 3,889 3,665 3,739 3,784 3,464
Total Dispositions 21,987 22,185 21,622 22,643 21,805

Data provided by the Alaska Judicial Branch

Total District Court Case Filings and Dispositions: FY 2015 - 2019

FY 2015 FY 2016 FY 2017 FY 2018 FY 2019
FILINGS
1st District 11,032 10,240 9,247 8,990 9,104
2nd District 3,115 3,224 3,173 3,348 3,040
3rd District 78,307 64,854 69,934 69,495 65,659
4th District 19,611 18,356 15,701 16,685 18,425
Total New Filings 112,065 96,674 98,055 98,518 96,228
DISPOSITIONS
1st District 10,801 10,115 9,580 7,993 9,571
2nd District 3,168 3,214 2,782 3,320 2,970
3rd District 77,530 66,541 69,942 68,944 61,298
4th District 20,151 18,197 15,621 16,107 17,798
Total Dispositions 111,650 98,067 97,925 96,364 91,637

Data provided by the Alaska Judicial Branch