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Iowa Court Records

Iowa court records have moved at least twice in the state’s history, all while gathering over 150 years’ worth of legal resources for the judiciary and public’s use. Now located in an esteemed and renovated building in Des Moines, the State Law Library allows searches of appellate briefs, local and state statutes, federal laws and even court procedures and dockets. Civil and criminal Iowa court records, past opinions and even historical documents from the area are all available for general public research.

Iowa Court Records

History of Iowa Courts

The Iowa State Law Library’s collection first came into existence in 1840, when the General Assembly passed an Act to allow for a librarian for the territory. Iowa court records were maintained at that library, which was open during sessions of the Supreme Court and legislature. It is unclear where the original library was located, but it was moved to Iowa City in 1857. At this time, legal materials moved to the new location but other volumes were taken to the Iowa Historical Memorial and Arts Building.

Later, the library moved to the capitol building in Des Moines in 1894 and underwent an extensive and impressive renovation in the late 20th century.

Iowa Court Statistics

Iowa Courts recieve 769,581 filings per year. In 2012, the court received 863,220 filings and gave 896,088 dispositions. In 2016, the state court caseload counted 707,501 filings and had 705,308 dispositions.

Total State Caseloads

Year Caseloads
2012 863,220
2013 810,002
2014 763,869
2015 703,314
2016 707,501

Iowa Court Records Availability

Iowa court records can be found in the State Library of Iowa in Des Moines, as well as online. Volumes include state and federal statutes, case law, case histories, past opinions and oral arguments, treatises, abstracts, legal journals and law reviews, as well as legislative material. The main goal of the library is to serve lawmakers, government and attorneys, as well as the public.

The public is often interested in Iowa court records when they are searching for background information on a case or the court forms needed to represent themselves in court. Many of the court rules and forms are found online, and a catalog of recent and past case histories is also available.

Share of Court Type Incoming Caseloads

Court Type Caseloads
Traffic: 433,568 (61.3 %)
Domestic Relations: 34,221 (4.8 %)
Criminal: 122,430 (17.3 %)
Civil: 117,282 (16.6 %)

Share of Court Type Outgoing Caseloads

Court Type Caseloads
Traffic: 434,053 (61.5 %)
Domestic Relations: 33,541 (4.8 %)
Criminal: 120,604 (17.1 %)
Civil: 117,110 (16.6 %)

Iowa Main Court Information

The Iowa Supreme Court has seven justices, serving eight-year terms. They are politically appointed and can serve subsequent terms. This court is the high court of the state, hearing appeals from all lower courts. It may then decide to send a case down to the court of appeals or keep it.

The Iowa Supreme Court was created in 1846 when Iowa became a state and its constitution was drafted. The Iowa General Assembly determined at that time that justices should serve six-year terms. In 1857, the constitution was amended to increase judicial districts to 11, and allowed the legislature to reorganize them every four years beginning in 1860.

Family Court Cases

Domestic relations caseload of Iowa at year end 2016 has decreased by 9.6% compared to the last 5 years, in 2012 the number of incoming cases was 37,508 with a rate of 1,220 cases per 100,000 population, higher than it's in 2016.

Year Domestic Relations Caseload Total Statewide Caseload
2012 37,508 863,220
2013 36,202 810,002
2014 35,564 763,869
2015 34,009 703,314
2016 34,221 707,501

Domestic Relations Clearance Rates

Year Incoming Caseload Outgoing Caseload Caseload per 100,000 Population
2012 37,508 37,644 1,220
2013 36,202 34,941 1,171
2014 35,564 34,345 1,145
2015 34,009 33,943 1,089
2016 34,221 33,541 1,092

States with More & Less Domestic Relation Caseloads than Iowa

More Domestic Relations Cases than Iowa:

State: Caseload:
New York 570,709
Texas 397,468
California 388,903
Pennsylvania 342,163
Virginia 342,040

Less Domestic Relations Cases than Iowa:

State: Caseload:
Nebraska 32,394
Utah 23,967
Idaho 22,769
South Dakota 16,805
Montana 15,635

Iowa Caseload Statistics

There are no specific caseload statistics available for Iowa, but they do report that they receive approximately 2,000 filings on an annual basis. 30% of those cases are criminal appeals, 25% are parental rights and children in need of assistance and 20% are family law appeals.

Iowa Criminal Caseloads

The number of criminal cases in Iowa counts 122,430 with 19,661 felony cases and 102,769 misdemeanors accordingly.

Year Criminal Caseload Misdemeanor Caseload Felony Caseload
2012 135,802 18,497 117,305
2013 129,804 19,003 110,801
2014 123,853 18,487 105,366
2015 121,835 18,768 103,067
2016 122,430 19,661 102,769

State Civil Caseload & Clearance Rates

In the last 5 years the number of civil cases has decreased by 17,211 cases, it went from 134,493 to 117,282 with clearance rates of 101% and 100%.

Year Civil Caseload Clearance Rate
2012 134,493 101
2013 130,308 113
2014 125,419 100
2015 117,735 100
2016 117,282 100