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Louisiana Court Records

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Where to Find Louisiana Civil Court Records

When two or more parties within the jurisdiction of Louisiana are involved in a dispute, the Clerk of the presiding Civil Court maintains official documents from when the plaintiff files the suit to when the judge passes judgment. These documents include attorney briefs, judge's opinion, court transcripts, motions, depositions, interrogatories, etc. Court Clerks are also charged with releasing these records to interested and eligible members of the public.

Are Louisiana Civil Court Records Public?

Yes, the Louisiana Public Information Act permits members of the public to view and copy non-confidential Civil Court records at the local Clerk of Courts Office - unless they contain sensitive information. In this case, the requester must demonstrate specific legal interests and petition the judge to grant a court order to access that sealed court record.

Types of Cases in Louisiana Civil Courts

Generally, Louisiana civil courts hear and settle non-criminal cases or disputes between two or more individuals, private and public entities, under the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure. Civil suits arise because the entities involved have failed to resolve the dispute without judicial intervention. Thus, the court examines claims from the parties involved and resolves civil cases by compelling the defendant to pay compensations and damages awarded to the plaintiff. Civil litigations may also be resolved in private out-of-court settlements before the case proceeds to trial. Examples of civil cases involve:

  • Torts and personal injury claims
  • Failure of fiduciary responsibilities
  • Replevin actions
  • Eviction/rent disputes
  • Business and contract disputes
  • Intellectual property disputes
  • Medical malpractice
  • Legal negligence
  • Class-action lawsuits
  • Employer-employee disputes
  • Real estate and boundary disputes
  • Divorce and separation
  • Child custody and child support
  • Adoption
  • Emancipation
  • Small Claims
  • Bankruptcy

What is the Difference between Criminal Cases and Civil Cases?

While criminal and civil cases may overlap in some cases, both differ in the offense and the punishment that the court imposes. Criminal cases pertain to obtaining justice for offenses or acts that harmed or have the potential to harm another entity. In this case, the financial loss is not the main cause of disagreement, and the court imposes penalties such as jail time or fines on the guilty offender. Also, the state initiates legal action against the offender rather than the party harmed.

On the other hand, civil cases involve non-violent disputes between individuals, businesses, or institutions regarding failed duties or obligations. In this case, restoring financial loss or repairing personal injury is the main objective. The court resolves civil cases by compelling the other party to fulfill an obligation or compensate the plaintiff for damages. However, the state does not initiate legal action against the offender. The plaintiff must petition the court for justice.

How Do I Find Civil Court Records In Louisiana?

Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure 251 directs the local Clerk of Courts to maintain and disseminate Civil Court records. Therefore, requesters must visit the Clerk's Office in person during business hours to obtain court records of interest. Moreover, certain courts allow mail-in requests, remote online access, or at public terminals in the courthouse. In-person and online requests are typically the fastest means to access a court record of interest.

Regardless of the means of access, a requester must provide the records' custodian with all the relevant information needed to facilitate the search. Necessary information includes the date of filing, personal information about the litigants, date of hearing, case number, docket number, etc.

Furthermore, requesters will be required to provide a government-issued photo-ID to access court records. Most courts also require requesters to pay a small fee to facilitate the search and cover the costs of copying the documents. Besides, requesters who seek certified records may incur additional fees. In the same vein, requesters must provide a court order to access sealed court records along with other requirements, as mentioned earlier.

How Do I Find Civil Court Records Online?

Generally, requesters may obtain Louisiana Civil Court records online using the electronic case management resources on the state or local judiciary website. The online availability of these court records differs from parish to parish. For example, Jefferson Parish judiciary and the Orleans Parish judiciary maintain online repositories. To inquire about the online availability of the court records in a local jurisdiction, simply enter "[name] Parish civil court records" in a search engine like Google.

Meanwhile, the Louisiana Judiciary is the central custodian of all Civil Court Records. Requesters may access court records on the Louisiana electronic case management ECF/Pacer portal. This is especially useful in finding multiple court records in different local jurisdictions.

However, online access to sealed Civil Court records involving the following is restricted:

  • Information about a juvenile or minor
  • Adoption
  • Guardianship terminating parental rights
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Cases related to Child in need of assistance (CINA)
  • Certain information on marriage licenses
  • Emergency mental health evaluations
  • Income tax returns
  • Financial statements filed in a case about spousal or child support
  • Physician reports on the medical condition of an alleged disabled adult
  • Reports on the property of an alleged disabled adult
  • Court records in a civil harassment proceeding

What Is Included In a Louisiana Civil Court Record?

The information on Civil Court records varies depending on the nature of the case, the litigants involved, the local jurisdiction, etc. However, a typical Civil Court record contains the following information:

  • Name, address of the litigants.
  • Other personal information of the litigants
  • Court summons
  • Orders of notices
  • Details of the complaint or claim
  • Amendments to the complaint or claim
  • Damages sought
  • Injunctions
  • Affidavits and evidence
  • Court transcripts
  • Court notes
  • Depositions
  • Interrogatories
  • Final judgments, agreements, or settlements

How to Access Louisiana Civil Court Records For Free

The ECF/PACER portal allows free online access to court records under certain circumstances. Likewise, courts generally provide free access court records maintained on public terminals at the Clerk's Office. The Clerk may also waive the associated fees if the requester meets the criteria for a waiver. However, sensitive records and private information is not available in either instance. To access these records, the requester must present a court order to the official custodian of the record.

How to Seal Civil Court Records in Louisiana

Under the Louisiana Codes of Civil Procedure, eligible individuals may petition the presiding judge to seal or restrict access to the information contained in a court record. The Louisiana Judiciary provides systematic instructions for sealing Civil Court records.

The petitioner may also inquire about the procedure for the sealing records at the Clerk's office. Attorneys and assistants at the Clerk's Office will provide the information, but they cannot give legal advice. Generally, the petitioner must demonstrate a legitimate interest in keeping the documents confidential in a motion to seal. Then, the presiding judge will weigh the petitioner's interest to keep the records confidential against the right of public access to the record.

However, attorneys of the litigants, their legal designees, certain court officials, and government agencies retain access to sealed records. Members of the public and potential employers cannot access sealed court records without a court order.

How to Access Sealed Civil Court Records in Louisiana

Generally, the records' custodian will deny a request to access sealed civil court records. Thus, the requester must petition the court to issue a court order or subpoena. The court will only grant the petition if the requester demonstrates specific legal interests and meets court requirements. Interested requesters may consult a civil law attorney or inquire at the Clerk of Courts Office.

  • Criminal Records
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  • Bankruptcies
  • Tax & Property Liens
  • Civil Judgements
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  • Probate Records
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  • And More!