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Where to Find Georgia Civil Court Records

Georgia civil court records refer to official accounts, written or otherwise, which provide information regarding the civil case's hearings in Georgia state courts. Civil cases range from claims, torts, breaches of contract, professional misconduct, to estate administration, foreclosures, child custody, marriage, and dissolution. Civil records comprise every documentation from the commencement of legal action such as:

  • Complaint filings
  • Summons or subpoenas
  • Transcript of proceedings
  • Court orders
  • Court judgment
  • Notice of rights of involved parties
  • Warrants and court injunctions

There is more than one trial court that handles civil cases in Georgia. The trial court system comprises Superior Courts, State Courts, Juvenile Courts, Probate Courts, Magistrate Courts, Civil Courts, Municipal Courts, and Recorder's Courts. All of them except the County Recorder's Court have limited jurisdiction over civil lawsuits, the only trial court of general jurisdiction is the Superior Court.

Records generated by the court process are maintained at the courthouse where the case was filed and tried. Third-party aggregate sites like CourtRecords.org provide public access to court records for the public who meet the requirements and pay the required fee.

Are Georgia Civil Court Records Public?

The Georgia Open Records Act of 1959 categorizes court records as public records. Therefore, the citizens of Georgia have access to court records as a fundamental right. The rule applies to open access documents. Confidential information such as financial statements, identification numbers, home addresses, and juveniles' information is restricted from public access under this Act. Access to confidential information is limited to the persons listed in the record, their attorneys, persons authorized by the involved parties, court, or government.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

Types of Cases in Georgia Civil Courts

Civil cases are typically void of criminal involvement, often involving conflict between persons or corporate agencies. Mediation is a process in Georgia that can resolve civil disputes in an easier way than a conventional court process. Among these cases are:

  • Torts
  • Landlord and tenant disagreements
  • Breach of contracts
  • Cases pertaining to the family such as marriage, divorce, child custody
  • Violation of state and county ordinances
  • Equitable claims

What is the Difference Between Criminal Cases and Civil Cases in Georgia?

Criminal cases are lawsuits with criminal or felonious intent. Also, the defendants in criminal cases are prosecuted by the government authority where the crime was committed. On the other hand, civil lawsuits are void of criminal intent. They exist between persons or organizations, usually as disputes and rights of claims.

How Do I Find Civil Court Records In Georgia?

In Georgia, the court has jurisdiction over a civil dispute and maintains the records of that case. The court clerk is the primary custodian of civil court records in each county. Also, court records in lower trial courts are centrally listed with the State and Superior Courthouse Clerks.

As with all public records in the state, requests may be made in person, in writing or online. There are some criteria that every requester must meet to make a request that will be processed:

Have necessary information at hand

Each requester must state the date of filing of the case, the biodata of the persons listed in the record, the names and addresses of their attorneys, the case file ID, or the record's docket number. Additional information can include the name of witnesses, and the county where the case was tried.

Locate the court of interest

Civil cases are handled by several trial courts in Georgia, depending on the jurisdiction. The same judges and clerks serve some of them. An example is the Civil Courts, where the presiding judges also handle the cases in Magistrate Courts. In some other instances, cases may be referred from lower trial courts to the trial courts of general jurisdiction for hearing. Requesters must identify the court of interest before a request can be made. Use the Find your Court link on the available on the state judicial website. Subsequently, requests should be channeled to the courthouse holding the records of interest.

Plan a visit to the courthouse, or send a Mailed Request

Be sure to note the business hours of the courthouse of interest before visiting. Call ahead of time to confirm that there are no courthouse programs that may prevent staff from receiving and processing requests. Phone numbers may be obtained from courthouse pages in county government websites or third-party websites. The sites provide in addition to phone numbers, physical addresses, emails, and fax numbers of the courthouse clerk's office.

If it is a third party request, be sure to visit the courthouse with a valid photo ID. All requesters must be ready to make payment for the services rendered by the courthouse. These services may be record searches and copying of records. In-person requests are processed almost immediately; therefore, a walk-in option yields a shorter delivery time.

How Do I Find Civil Court Records Online?

The Administrative of the Courts, Judicial Council of Georgia, provides the citizens of the state with remote access to court records across the state, known as E-access to Court Records. A cursory glance shows that all state and superior courts in the state are listed on the database. It means that only records of lower trial courts that have been listed with the state or superior court will be accessible online. To use the resource, click on the superior or state court of interest. The party will be directed to a user page that requires the requester to create an account.

Although every court has e-filed and paper documents, not all courts have elected to have records on the E-access to Court Records website. Here is a list of courts in Georgia that have online court records. Court records are available at a fee, depending on the size and nature of the record.

Note that remote access to confidential records is not available. According to Rule 21.1 of Superior Courts of Georgia, Rules of Court, confidential information comprises any private information of an individual to which public knowledge may jeopardize security, safety. Well, being, and fair hearing. These include: Confidential information includes:

  • Personal addresses and identifiers of persons listed in the record
  • Health information and mental evaluation reports
  • Education data and other information about children involved in the case
  • Social security numbers and financial statements
  • Records of mediation processes
  • Addresses of victims of domestic violence

To access confidential information, a request in person or writing to the court of jurisdiction over the case by authorized persons will do.

What Is Included In a Georgia Civil Court Record?

There are a variety of documents contained in civil court records. These records reflect the nature and extent of the case and adjoining matters in the lawsuit. Generally, a civil court case in Georgia will contain the following:

  • Copy of a filed civil complaint
  • Copy of Summons
  • Proof of service of summons
  • Copy of defendant's response to the complaint
  • Written notice of allegations or demurrer
  • Names of Attorneys
  • Copy of amended complaint
  • Cross-Complaint from defendant
  • Memorandum of Points and Authorities
  • Restraining Orders and Court Injunctions
  • Court disposition-Dismissal, Judgment or Verdict

How to Access Georgia Civil Court Records For Free

All records, whether in paper form or electronic format, can be viewed for free. Copies, however, attract service fees. The fees charged vary by county and by the type of record requested. Copies of records are copied for as low as 50 cents per page for a 50-page document in some counties. Information that can be viewed or copied, is regulated by the Public Record Policy of the state, which defines personal or confidential information as not accessible, except to eligible persons.

How to Seal Civil Court Records in Georgia

To seal a record is to deny public access to it. By the rules of court in Georgia, specific records of civil court cases are sealed by default. The sealing of records makes access available only to the persons involved in the case, their legal representatives, and all legally authorized persons. It means that third party requests for such records are not granted until they are legally authorized.

A record can be sealed by the court or upon request by the individuals involved in the case. To do this, the individual submits a petition to the court. The petition is assessed and granted if the judge deems the basis for the request to be reasonable. A reasonable basis demonstrates that the benefits of privacy of the information outweigh the public interest.

Expunging a record, on the other hand, deletes the records from the legal record system. In Georgia, the term "record restriction" is used to process documents that qualify for expungement. Persons who qualify for a record restriction by default are:

  • Persons or organizations wrongfully charged to court
  • Cases that were dismissed in court
  • Cases of discharge and acquittal
  • A youthful offender in cases of minor misdemeanors
  • First offender status of some non-conviction cases

After that, records are accessible only to persons granted executive order, such as law enforcement agents. Record restriction relieves the holder of the record of all responsibility to the case. It means that the individual has a right to deny his or her involvement in the expunged lawsuit.

How to Access Sealed Civil Court Records in Georgia

When a court issues an order to seal or restrict a record in Georgia, requesters will not be able to access such records. An interested requester can circumvent the order by challenging the court's decision. To begin, request a copy of the "order to seal".. Consult a legal expert for advice on how to proceed. In Georgia, requests to unseal may be granted or denied. If denied, a requester can appeal to the Supreme Court of the state based on Rule 21.4 of the Uniform Superior Court rules.

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