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HOW DO I SEARCH NEBRASKA COURT RECORDS?

In compliance with the Nebraska Public Records Law, Nebraska Court records are made publicly available to citizens through different branches of the state judicial system. Court records are usually kept in electronic and paper copies. To access court records in Nebraska, requestors may:

  • Visit the local courthouse where the record is on file to obtain a paper copy
  • Visit the local courthouse where the record is on file to view an electronic copy through the public access terminal
  • Remotely access the Nebraska Courts website for an electronic copy of court record

Nebraska court records may also be requested by mail to the Clerk of Court at the courthouse where the action was filed. Note, court records restricted or sealed by court order or a statute may not be available to the public. To determine the location of a courthouse in the state, consider the District Court and County Court directory on the Nebraska Judicial Branch website. Copying available court records may incur a nominal fee.

HOW CAN I OBTAIN NEBRASKA COURT RECORDS ONLINE FOR FREE?

Nebraska official court records are not available for free. However, several jurisdictions in the state make electronic copies of their court records accessible through the public access terminals at the courthouse or online for free. In jurisdictions where this is not possible, requestors will have to obtain paper copies at a fee through the relevant official channels in the area. The same step is required if requestors need to obtain certified copies of court records.

The public can access electronic copies of case information from Nebraska trial courts online through the Nebraska Court website. These case records include information such as:

  • Case summary
  • Parties to the case
  • Offense Information (criminal only)
  • Financial information (costs/judgments assessed and paid)
  • Register of actions – a listing of documents filed by attorneys, court hearings, judge orders entered, etc.
  • Judge notes (if applicable)

The Nebraska trial court case management system, called JUSTICE is the online platform through which citizens can perform a case record search. Note that JUSTICE is not free but comes with a $50 annual subscription fee or a $15 one-time case search fee. The platform allows users to search with the following options:

  • Party name
  • Court type
  • Case type/subtype
  • County
  • Year
  • Judge
  • Attorney

JUSTICE also allows users to conduct a search by judgment date or court case number for an additional fee of $1. To create an account on JUSTICE, register through the Nebraska government website.

Court records from Nebraska appellate courts are accessible through the appellate court case management system of Nebraska, otherwise called SCCALES. To use SCCALES, a subscriber account is also required with an annual subscription fee of $100. To search SCCALES, users may use either the appellate court case number or the original trial court case number. Searches on SCCALES will reveal:

  • Case summary
  • Parties to the case
  • Register of actions – a listing of documents filed by attorneys, court hearings, judge orders entered, etc.
  • Final opinion (non-published) or disposition

Note that to view additional details of each case record, a fee of $1 is attached.

To find more information on obtaining court records from trial courts in Nebraska, select the District Courts contacts link, or the County Courts contact link from the Nebraska Courts website.

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 NEBRASKA COURT SYSTEM WORK?

The Nebraska Court system has six types of courts. The Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals form the appellate branch of the Nebraska court system. The District Courts hold jury trials and are the trial courts of general jurisdiction. The County Courts are trial courts of limited jurisdictions. There are trial courts in all 93 counties of Nebraska. Each county has a County Court and a District Court.

Special courts in Nebraska are the Worker's Compensation Courts and the Separate Juvenile Court in three counties. Appeals from these special courts go to the Court of Appeals while appeals of County Courts judgments are initially filed to the District Courts. All appeals from the Districts Courts are made to the Court of Appeals except in special cases. The Supreme Court is the apex court in Nebraska and holds the right to review decisions from all of the lower courts in the state.

Nebraska through the permission of the Supreme Court also established some problem-solving courts which work in a team-like method to set up novel programs for the treatment of problems related to substance abuse, mental health, and domestic violence. The courts' aim to keep Nebraska safe from addicts, and other high-risk individuals.

Problem-solving courts usually operate within a District, County, or Juvenile Court. Nebraska's problem-solving courts operating team includes a judge, prosecutor, defense counsel, coordinator, community supervision officer, law enforcement, and treatment provider(s). Participants in their programs are closely supervised and monitored and made to undergo review hearings to evaluate their performances.

HOW DOES THE NEBRASKA COUNTY COURT WORK?

County Courts are the trial courts of limited jurisdiction. These courts hold preliminary hearings in felony criminal cases. These types of hearing are usually done to establish if there is enough evidence to determine probable cause for offenses and if so, bound over a case to the District Court for proper trials.

The County Court's jurisdiction covers cases such as:

  • Small claims
  • Probate
  • Guardianship
  • Conservatorship
  • Adoption
  • Municipal ordinance violation
  • Juvenile matters (except in Douglas, Lancaster, and Sarpy Counties where Separate Juvenile Courts exist)

County Courts have concurrent jurisdiction with the District Courts on traffic infractions, criminal misdemeanors, divorce, and civil cases where the amount in dispute does not exceed $53,000.

HOW DOES THE NEBRASKA DISTRICT COURT WORK?

Nebraska District Courts are the trial courts of general jurisdiction. The District Courts have subject-matter jurisdiction over cases relating to:

  • Tort
  • Contract disputes
  • Real Property
  • Domestic relations matters
  • Misdemeanor offenses
  • Criminal matters

District Courts have exclusive jurisdictions in matters of mental health and felony issues. They also receive appeals of civil and criminal cases as well as appeals from various administrative agencies from the County Courts. District Courts do not hold new trials when ruling in an appellate capacity.

WHAT IS THE SEPARATE JUVENILE COURT OF NEBRASKA?

Juvenile matters are usually heard at the County Courts. However, a Separate Juvenile Court exists in the three counties of Douglas, Lancaster, and Sarpy Counties. These courts handle cases relating to delinquent, dependent, and neglected children. Cases of minor children in need of care, support, and custody are also brought before this court. Court procedures in juvenile courts are generally the same as employed in the County Courts when handling juvenile matters.

WHAT IS THE NEBRASKA WORKERS' COMPENSATION COURT?

The Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court was established primarily to ensure that all the specifications of the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act are duly followed where applicable. Its jurisdiction thus covers cases relating to disputes over workers' compensation arising from accidents or illnesses. The court has seven judges and holds hearings anywhere within the state.

HOW DOES THE NEBRASKA COURT OF APPEALS WORK?

The Nebraska Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court in the state. All appeals to the appellate tier of the Nebraska Judicial system are required to be brought before the Court of Appeals except in cases relating to:

  • the constitutionality of a statute
  • judgments of death sentence or life imprisonment was passed

The Court of Appeals has 6 judges appointed to serve 2-year renewable terms by the governor from a pool of candidates submitted by the judicial nominating commission. These judges are divided into two panels of three judges who hear cases in the main courtroom in Lincoln and other cities in the state. Court of Appeals ensures that all judges work together by regularly changing the personnel make-up of the panels.

HOW DOES THE NEBRASKA SUPREME COURT WORK?

The Nebraska Supreme Court is the court of last resort in the state. It has overall exclusive jurisdiction in Nebraska and may assign the original hearing of any case to itself from any of the lower courts. The Supreme Court has exclusive subject-matter jurisdiction over cases involving:

  • Death-penalty
  • Life Imprisonment

The Supreme Court also handles appeals in situations where a petition for bypass or petition for further review from the Court of Appeals is granted. The entire administrative operations and regulations of Nebraska courts rest on the shoulders of the Supreme Court. It supervises the practice of law, admission of attorneys into the Nebraska Bar Association, and oversees the ethical conduct and disciplinary actions for attorneys in the state.

The Nebraska Supreme Court consists of a Chief Justice and six Associate Justices. The Chief Justice is appointed by the governor from a pool of candidates selected by the judicial nominating commission. The remaining Associate Justices are selected by the commission from the six Supreme Court districts in the state.

HOW MANY CASES DOES THE NEBRASKA COURT SYSTEM HANDLE ANNUALLY?

Over 300,000 cases are filed annually in Nebraska County Courts. In the District Courts, approximately 40,000 cases are also filed annually while the Separate Juvenile Courts record about 5,000 cases yearly. The appellate divisions of the judicial system record over 1,300 petitions for appeal yearly.

In the 2019 fiscal year, the Nebraska County Courts recorded 304,298 case filings. The District Courts recorded 40,806 case filings. The three Separate Juvenile Courts in Sarpy, Lancaster, and Douglas Counties recorded 4,902 case filings.

In the same fiscal year, 1,133 new cases were docketed in the Court of Appeals. The intermediate appellate court also recorded 184 appeal transfers to the Supreme Court, 24 granted petitions for bypass, 434 case dispositions by opinions, and a total of 978 case dispositions. The Supreme Court recorded 56 new cases dockets, 30 granted petitions for bypass, 15 granted petitions for further review, and a total of 277 case dispositions.

Nebraska County Court Annual Cases Opened

Fiscal year Adult Court Juvenile Court Total case Fillings
2019 299,840 4,458 304,298
2018 321,496 4,850 326,346
2017 325,706 5,160 330,886
2016 327,555 5,192 332,747
2015 328,425 5,226 333,651

Data provided by the Nebraska Judicial Branch

Nebraska District Court Adult Annual Cases Opened

Fiscal year Adult Court
2019 40,806
2018 42,348
2017 42,224
2016 41,067
2015 39,847

Data provided by the Nebraska Judicial Branch

Nebraska Separate Juvenile Courts Cases Opened

Fiscal year Sarpy Lancaster Douglas Total case Fillings
2019 670 1,375 2,857 4,902
2018 754 1,202 2,958 4,914
2017 691 2,012 3,066 5,769
2016 699 2,213 2,621 5,533
2015 717 2,439 2,590 5,746

Data provided by the Nebraska Judicial Branch

Nebraska Supreme Court Caseload

Fiscal Year 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
New Cases Docketed 50 63 77 67 56
Petitions to Bypass Filed 52 62 45 48 42
Petitions to Bypass Granted 30 35 27 30 40
Petitions to Bypass Denied 22 31 17 19 20
Cases Transferred from the Court of Appeals 155 117 151 182 184
Petitions for Further Review Filed 298 216 258 235 238
Petitions for Further Review Granted 32 13 12 14 15
Petitions for Further Review Denied 266 210 243 177 218
Cases Disposed by Opinion 255 179 227 270 222
Cases Disposed Without Opinion 31 30 57 33 55
Total Cases Disposed 286 209 284 303 277

Data provided by the Nebraska Judicial Branch

Nebraska Courts of Appeal Caseload

Fiscal Year 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
New Cases Docketed 1,085 1,231 1, 174 1,226 1,133
Transferred to Supreme Court 155 117 151 182 184
Petitions to Bypass Granted 30 35 27 30 24
Cases Disposed by Opinion 467 399 376 407 434
Total Cases Disposed 1,031 995 942 962 978

Data provided by the Nebraska Judicial Branch

Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court Caseload

Fiscal Year 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
Total petitions 2,462 2,503 2,551 2,586 2,594
Total Dispositions 1,127 1,146 1,194 1,216 1,263
Motions Filed 3,329 3,664 3,601 3,578 3,376
Motion Dispositions 2,537 2,906 2,792 2,598 2,696
Motion Hearings 526 617 605 657 582
Appeals Filed 35 33 37 34 46

Data providedby the Nebraska Judicial Branch

First names in Nebraska