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Court Records - A Valuable Source of Information and History

Aug 17, 2007
Court records are the results of taking a case to court or a judicial proceeding. A court record does not only refer to the actual document that records the events that took place during the legal proceeding but also to any other information that may have been collected or accepted in line with it. The clerk of court is usually the one tasked with keeping court records.

So why would anyone want to access court records? Let us count the ways.

* Since some court proceedings are not open to the public or may be difficult to attend for most individuals who work during the day, court records are the next best thing.
* Those who take a special interest in researching their own genealogy have also used court proceedings as a way of finding ancestors and getting in touch with their roots.
* The extensiveness of court proceedings, regardless of time or place, has also made them of particular interest for those who have a special fascination with history.
* Court records of old cases are usually utilized by lawyers and legal assistants to serve as a basis or precedent for their current court cases.

Court Records - The Online Access Debate

Most recently, there has been some heated debate as to whether court records should continue to be made available online or not. Those who agree promote the fact that it will be a great service to people who have a great need for court proceedings; those who don't argue that offering court records easily online promotes identity theft and shows no respect for the privacy of the individuals involved in the court cases. In criminal cases, for instance, there is the risk of putting people's lives in danger (e.g., jury members, witnesses, etc.) if their addresses and phone numbers were revealed.

On the other hand, many believe that court proceedings should be placed online because this is the best way of allowing the public to see how the legal system works. The judicial system stands for the implementation of justice and checks and balances should be in place to ensure that this tradition and responsibility is continually upheld. If there is information in court records that should be kept secure and confidential, this should be filtered accordingly.

One advise is to differentiate online court proceedings from people searches (because someone deliberately looking to ruin another can easily do so via court records). As a result, the court records should be made available not through the search of the name of a person but through other specific details that have to do with legal proceedings.

Although there is still a long way to go in terms of providing limits and restraints on how court proceedings are acquired by the general public, by far the strongest argument has been in favor of continuing to allow these to be placed online.

Are you one of those in need of court records? If so, you don't need to wait for the result of this 'debate' because many court proceedings are indeed accessible online today. Most online sources will require a membership before you can search their databases while others will allow you to conduct a search first; and if you are keen on viewing the court records on the results page, then you can pay for access then.
About the Author
Want to Know the Top Sites to Find Court Record? Read Dr. Amit Mehta's Unbiased Reviews ==> RecordsSiteReviews.com
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