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Kentucky Court Records

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Are Kentucky Court Records Public?

The Kentucky Open Records Act guarantees the right of access to records maintained by Government bodies in the state. It was introduced in 1976 and amended in 1994. It should be noted that juvenile records, Medical Records, and other confidential Records are not subject to disclosure without due authorization. Court records are regarded as public records, and public members can request access to them. Although court records are public, records made confidential by the state statute or ordered to be sealed by a judge are not easily accessible except for the parties and authorized representatives.

What Shows Up on a Kentucky Court Records Search

Kentucky court records provide a detailed history of a court case, the arguments made, the evidence presented, and the decisions made. They help ensure transparency and accountability in Kentucky's judicial process.

Court records are legal documents filed with a court for court cases. They typically contain information such as judgments, transcripts, orders, and hearings. Court records are maintained by the court clerk's office and accessible by the public unless restricted by the court.

In Kentucky, the Kentucky Court of Justice provides access to court records online through its eCourt system. Citizens can also request records in person at the Clerk's office in the county where the case was heard. The court records search is generally straightforward; individuals can search by party name, case number, citation, and other applicable information.

Court records search allows individuals to conduct a background search of a potential employee or business partner, verify the status of a lawsuit or gather evidence in a criminal investigation. They preserve the right of public access to court information and provide valuable insights into various legal matters like family law matters and civil disputes.

How Do I Find Court Records in Kentucky?

The first step to take when trying to obtain court records in Kentucky is to visit the court house where the case was heard. The Kentucky Courts of Justice comprises the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, Circuit and District Courts. The address of each court can be found on the Kentucky Court of Justice Website. For example, to request court records from the Supreme Court, interested persons may visit the office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court.

Usually, the Court Clerk responds to court record requests and directs requesters on what forms to fill.

These are the names and addresses of the Clerks of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals:

Kelly Stephen
Clerk of Supreme Court of Kentucky
State Capitol, Room 235
700 Capital Ave.
Frankfort, KY 40601-3415
Phone: (502) 564-5444

Rebecca Combs Lyon
Clerk of the Kentucky Court of Appeals.
Kentucky Court of Appeals
360 Democrat Drive
Frankfort, KY 40601
Phone: (502) 573-7920

Requesters should visit the Office of Circuit Court Clerk's website and select the county in question to get information on each Clerk of the courts.

Kentucky Court Records Public Access

Requesters may also find Kentucky court records via the "Find a Case Portal" on the Kentucky Court of Justice website. There are two options to search for court records, either by case number or party names. Requesters must have either of this information to conduct a search.

In Kentucky, persons looking to find criminal records may visit the court's Administrative Office. Requesters may obtain a criminal record report for a $25 fee. The administrative office does not accept cash payment; only card payment or money order is allowed. It is open Monday to Friday.

Requesters may also obtain a criminal record report online via the AOCFastCheck and the One-time Request portal. To request criminal records electronically, requesters must first signup to become registered users on the website. The Kentucky AOC's database collects court information from the local case management system in all 120 Kentucky counties. It contains millions of records covering all misdemeanor and traffic cases in each county dating back to the past 5 years. The AOCFastCheck allows requesters to order criminal record reports and retrieve the results online at any time. In contrast, the one-time Request allows requesters to make a single order and receive reports by U.S. mail.

Kentucky Court Structure

How to Conduct a Kentucky Court Record Search by Name

Individuals need to follow the following steps when conducting a court record search by name in Kentucky:

  • Determine the case's jurisdiction: Specify whether the case was filed at a county or state-level court in Kentucky.
  • Identify the court: Find out which court heard the case depending on the nature of the case. This can be the district court, family court, business court etc.
  • Access the court records search tool: Access either the court's website or Kentucky's records search system to conduct a search or, alternatively, visit the court in person.
  • Search by name: Search through the online court records search available or submit an in-person request by providing the necessary name and additional information.
  • Several name-based searches can be conducted, including:
    • Record holder's name: Search by the name of a specific individual whose record is associated with the case.
    • Party name search: Search by the names of the parties involved, which could be the plaintiffs or defendants.
    • Attorney name search: Search by the name of the attorney who's representing the plaintiff or defendant.
    • Judge name search: Search by the name of the presiding judge to view cases decided by a specific judge.
  • Review the search results: Unrestricted court records will be made available based on the name used for the search, and users can view each record for more details.

How to Get Court Records Online for Free in Kentucky

Kentucky court records can be accessed for free and low-cost online through the following options:

Kentucky Court of Justice's CourtNet: Individuals can search for court records through the CourtNet system on the Kentucky Court of Justice website. According to the Kentucky Open Records Act (KORA), the system provides free access to records to the public.

Public Access Terminals: As an alternative means of remote access, public access terminals placed in courthouses and county clerk offices throughout Kentucky allow individuals to search and view court records physically. There is a small fee for copying or printing records, but records can be saved online if the user has a PACER account.

PACER: PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) is an online database that provides access to federal court records. Getting Kentucky court records through PACER is usually free, although there are low-cost fees for specific records.

County Clerk's Office: Individuals can visit, email, or call the county clerk's office where the case was heard and request access to records. There is a low-cost fee of $0.10 for copying or printing each page of records.

Third-party providers and Legal research websites such as CourtTrax offer access to court records in Kentucky for a monthly subscription fee.

Considered open to citizens of the United States, court records are available through both traditional government sources and through third-party websites and organizations. In many cases, third-party websites make the search easier as they are not limited geographically or by technological limitations. They are considered a good place to start when looking for a specific record or multiple records. In order to gain access to these records, interested parties must typically provide:

  • The name of the person listed in the record. Juveniles are typically exempt from this search method.
  • The last known or assumed location of the person listed in the record. This includes cities, counties, and states.

While third-party sites offer such services, they are not government-sponsored entities, and record availability may vary on these sites when compared to government sources.

Types of Courts in Kentucky

The judicial system in Kentucky operates under the "equal justice under law" principle. The system seeks to provide fair and impartial justice to all citizens in Kentucky. The system's structure allows court decisions to be reviewed and appealed at higher levels. There is provision for different resolution methods outside of the courtroom, such as arbitration and mediation.

The Kentucky judicial system comprises different types of courts to solve different kinds of cases. The court judges in Kentucky are typically elected and serve four to eight-year terms depending on the court they preside over. The types of courts include:

  • District Courts: These lower-level courts are implemented to handle traffic violations, misdemeanors, and small claims.
  • Family Courts: These are specialized courts that handle family law cases. These cases typically involve divorce, domestic violence, and child custody.
  • Circuit Courts: These courts are higher-level courts that handle cases that are more serious in nature. Cases such as highly controversial civil cases and felony criminal cases are heard at circuit courts.
  • Kentucky Court of Appeals: This is the intermediate appellate court that hears appeals from the lower courts. The court reviews decisions and ensures that they follow the laws and that no violations of individuals' rights occur.
  • Kentucky Supreme Court: This is the highest court in the state, serves as the last resort and has a crucial role in Kentucky's judicial system. It hears appeals from the Court of Appeals and cases involving matters of great public importance.

What Shows Up on Kentucky Judgment Records?

Kentucky judgment records are court documents detailing the case's outcome by a court of competent jurisdiction. These records are available to interested members of the public per the Kentucky Open Records Act. Persons who obtain Kentucky judgment records can expect to see the litigants' names, case information, as well as the judgment issued in the case of interest.

An individual who wishes to obtain a copy of judgment records in Kentucky must have case identifying information and the means to pay the associated costs, albeit nominal. The search for Kentucky judgment records begins at the Clerk's office in the court, where the case was finalized.

Generally, this court is located in the county where the defendant lives or where the incident happened. Next, the requester may visit the Clerk during business hours and submit a request at the administrative desk. The court staff will require the case number, litigants' names, and the year of judgment to search and retrieve the case record. Most courts charge processing fees, which cover the labor cost of searching and copying the case documents. Cash, money order, certified checks, and credit cards are acceptable payment options.

Are Kentucky Bankruptcy Records Public?

Kentucky bankruptcy records are deemed public per state laws. Such records provide financial information of individuals who have a bankruptcy case filed at the state's bankruptcy court. Bankruptcy records typically contain related financial information such as the debtor's assets, income, debts, creditors' details, and other information. Bankruptcy records in Kentucky are usually available to the public, except in special cases, where the information is sealed by the court. Bankruptcy cases are federal cases and are handled by federal courts with different offices in different districts. In Kentucky, the bankruptcy courts are United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Kentucky with offices in Ashland, Covington, Frankfort, Lexington, London, and Pikeville. The Western District has offices in Louisville, Bowling Green, Owensboro, and Paducah.

Bankruptcy records and associated recordings, including writs, judgments, and Kentucky liens, are maintained and disseminated by the record custodian of the jurisdiction where the case was filed. Interested persons may view or copy these records by querying the relevant agency, provided the record is not restricted or redacted by law or court order.

How to Find Bankruptcy Records in Kentucky

Kentucky has two bankruptcy courts: the Eastern District and the Western District. Individuals must identify where the court case was filed in order to contact the court and access the specific records.

Bankruptcy records can also be accessed through PACER. For access, individuals can register for a PACER account and then log in to conduct a search. They can search for bankruptcy records by case number, party name, and essential information. Users can view, save, and download the located records from the PACER system.

The fee for accessing bankruptcy records is currently $0.10 per page, with a maximum charge of $3.00 per document. There may be extra fees for getting electronic copies or accessing certain records.

Can You Look Up Court Cases in Kentucky?

Yes, you can look up court cases in Kentucky. Usually, most Kentucky court cases can be accessed by contacting the Clerk of court on record. Kentucky courts also provide members of the public with online access to court records and information. For example, the Court of Justice website allows members of the public to perform a search by case number or party names through its Find a Case page.

Kentucky Court Case Lookup Exemptions

The Kentucky Open Records Act (KORA) allows the government to withhold certain court case information from public access and disclosure. The specific exemptions to public disclosure of court case information in Kentucky can be found in the Open Records Act, KRS 61.878. These exemptions include:

  • Medical and mental health records
  • Ongoing criminal investigations
  • Undercover law enforcement operations
  • Grand jury proceedings and deliberations
  • Juvenile court proceedings
  • Attorney-client privileged information
  • Security plans and infrastructure
  • Confidential business information like trade secrets and proprietary information

How to Find a Court Docket in Kentucky

Kentucky court dockets are written records that list all scheduled cases to be heard by a court on a particular day or period. The docket entails details such as the case type, the presiding judge, the parties involved, and the time and day the hearing will occur.

In Kentucky, court dockets are used by attorneys, judges, and the public to keep track of upcoming court proceedings. Citizens find out about the hearing of a case and monitor the case's progress through court dockets.

Court dockets can be searched through the Kentucky Court of Justice website, the PACER system, the County clerk's offices, and certain law libraries. Individuals can search by party name, case number, attorney name, or date range of cases in specific district courts.

The PACER system offers court docket access for Kentucky's Eastern and Western Districts.

Civil vs Small Claims Courts in Kentucky: Understanding the Difference

Small Claims are matters involving disputes over money or property valued at $2500 or less. Generally, individuals who file a suit in the Small Claims court are not required to provide representation from a lawyer; they may choose to represent themselves.

Kentucky Small Claims Courts only hear cases involving a claim of money or property of $2500 or less. Note that the $2,500 limit does not include interest and court costs. The following cases can not be brought to the Small Claims Court:

  • Criminal actions.
  • Cases of libel, slander
  • Malicious prosecution
  • Abuse of process

In Kentucky, there is a statute of limitations on the filing of Small Claims matters. Therefore, anyone looking to sue must do so before the statute of limitations ends. For example, claims involving oral contracts have a 5-year statute of limitation, and a Written Contract is 15 years.

Persons who can file in the Small Claims Court include Individuals, Businesses, or Corporations. The following cannot file a matter in the Small Claims court:

  • Persons or organizations in the business of lending money with interest
  • A collection agency or a collection agent

In Kentucky, the limited number of claims that an individual may file per one calendar year is 25 claims. For a business, it is 25 claims for each established business engaged in trade or commerce for at least six months. Note that these limitations do not apply to claims initiated by city, county, or urban governments. An individual interested in filing a small claims lawsuit must begin by filing a Small Claims Complaint form AOC-175 with Circuit Court Clerk's Office. This form may be filled out online and printed, it may also be obtained from the Office of the Circuit Court Clerk. Kentucky has the office of the Circuit Court Clerk in all 120 counties.

Small claims complaints may be filed in the county where the person being sued lives or does business or, in the case of corporations, in the county where its office or place of business is situated. Persons may also sue in the county in which the contract was made or was to have been performed. After completing the complaint form, take it to the Office of Circuit Court Clerk for filing. A fee will be charged for filing the complaint. The Office of Circuit Court Clerk will then issue a summons to notify the defendant that a complaint has been filed. The time and place of the hearing will be listed on the Small Claims Summons AOC-180 form. Civil courts are the courts of general jurisdiction for matters involving damages of $ 5,000 or more.