District of Columbia Court Case Lookup
In the District of Columbia, a court case is a suit filed by one party in response to a wrong done by another party, seeking legal intervention. Under the court system in the District of Columbia, a case can either be civil or criminal. A civil case is a personal disagreement between two parties, while a criminal case is usually between the state and a party who by law has committed a crime against the state.
The superior court and court of appeals make up the judicial system of the District of Columbia. The superior court handles all cases, while the court of appeal has the jurisdiction to review the final judgment of the superior court in the District of Columbia.
Are Court Cases Public Record in the District of Columbia?
Yes, although there is no general rule concerning access to court records, there is a provision for some. For instance, as provided by the superior court rules in regard to access to civil case records and access to criminal cases, “any individual who has paid the fees for obtaining a part or the whole of a court record of proceedings held in an open court can obtain the record”. Those interested in getting a copy of a court proceeding (in a trial by jury) before the declaration of a verdict would need to send a written request to the judge presiding over the case. On the other hand, once a case has been concluded, it is open to the public. Although court records in the District of Columbia are open to the public, absolute access to all court case records is not guaranteed. The court system ensures that members of the public interested in accessing a court case record that is open to the public can easily do so, whether online or in person.
How to Conduct a District of Columbia Court Case Lookup
Court cases in the District of Columbia can be looked up online or in person. The District of Columbia’s courts' web page provides case lookups for both participants and non-participants in the case. A court case participant interested in a case lookup can search for a case using the case management system on the homepage. This search is pretty straightforward,
- Select the court handling the case.
- Click on the search now option.
- Enter the case number, date filed, and any other information needed.
An inquirer can also look up a court case at the courthouse where the case was filed by providing the case number or the names of individuals involved in the case. The request can be made orally or in written form to the clerk of the court.
Can I Get the District of Columbia Court Case Documents Online?
Yes. The superior court of the District of Columbia provides dockets and pictures of court case documents. The pictures of the case documents can be accessed from the case search tool from the portal documents update. Requesters should note that not all documents are available online, and documents available are in picture format. One can check the eAccess provided by the court to see documents that are available for viewing online. A user guide is also made available to help users navigate the eAccess better.
The court of appeals also provides public access to case documents on the webpage for some civil cases.
How to Conduct a District of Columbia Court Search by Name
A court case can be searched using the name of participants involved in a case or a case number. An interested member of the public wanting to conduct a court case search by name can
- Check the District of Columbia court website.
- Choose the court (superior court or court of appeals). The court provides eAccess to cases online.
- Click on the eAccess tool.
- Scroll down, enter the letters on the image at the left corner into the captcha then click the button.
Another page would be displayed.
- Select the search by name option.
- Enter the names, then search.
Please note that the participants in a court case who want to access their records can only carry out a search by case number on the District of Columbia’s court website.
Another way an inquirer can conduct a case search by name is to visit the courthouse in person to request to perform a court case search by name. One would need to provide the full name of the participants in the case. Third-party sites providing this service are another place to explore.
What is a Court Case Number?
A court case number is a distinctive number assigned to a specific filed case to enable easy identification. It is a combination of numbers and alphabets in the District of Columbia. One can tell the year a case was filed, the type of case, and the case serial number from a case number.
How to Conduct a Case Number Search in the District of Columbia
If an inquirer wants to conduct a case search using the case number instead of the names of the participant in the case, contacting the clerk of the courthouse where the case was filed would be a good start. One can send a mail, call, or visit the courthouse in person to make inquiries. Once the requester provides the case number, the court case can be retrieved.
The case search system on the District of Columbia’s webpage provides a court case search by number to both participants in a case and non-participants in the case. Non-participants can use the eAccess or portal search option as has been mentioned earlier, while participants can use the case search option.
How to Remove Court Cases From Public Record in the District of Columbia
Those who want to remove a court case from public record in the District of Columbia can either petition to seal the records or petition to expunge records. Removing a court case from public record especially a criminal case record is dependent on,
- How long ago the case was.
- The complexity or severity of the case.
- The right of the public to access the case.
Hence not all cases can be sealed/expunged, for example, all felonies can not be sealed. Nonetheless, to seal or expunge an eligible court record, one would need to contact the public defender's office.
Address: 633 Indiana Avenue,
North West Washington, D.C. 20004.
Phone; (800) 341-2582.
For those seeking to seal the record of a case filed online, the motion to seal the record has to be submitted online. One could seal a case under actual innocence, or the interest of justice(1). Filing for expungement/sealing a record is free in the District of Columbia.
How to Check a Court Case Status in the District of Columbia
One can check the status of a court case from the court docket of the case. Case dockets are accessible using the case search system on the DC court website. The search can be done using the name of the parties involved or the case number.
A researcher can also send an email to the courthouse in charge of the case or stop by in person to make inquiries about the case status at the office of the clerk.
How to Find Supreme Court Decisions in the District of Columbia
The Court of Appeals is the equivalent of the Supreme Court in the District of Columbia. The court of appeals decisions can be accessed online on the court's website or in person at the courthouse. Members of the public interested in finding court of appeals opinions online can check the WC courts homepage. One can carry out the search by providing a keyword or date.
What Percentage of Court Cases Go to Trial in the District of Columbia?
The number of court cases that go to trial in the District of Columbia is relatively few compared to the total cases handled by the court per year. For instance, as published in the 2020 statistical summary of court cases, out of 5,079 civil cases filed,19 cases were resolved by jury trial and 16 by non Jury trial. under felony court cases 1,200 were resolved by non-trial, 31 by jury trial, and 6 by bench trial.
In 2021, 17 cases were resolved by jury trial and 25 by non-jury trial out of 5,384 civil cases filed. These statistical summaries can be downloaded by year from the District of Columbia’s court webpage.
How Long Does a Court Case Last in the District of Columbia?
The duration of a court case in the District of Columbia depends on,
- The type of case.
- The crime committed and its gravity/complexity (for a criminal case). For example, A felony court case would last longer than a theft.
The duration is also dependent on the method used to resolve the case. Normally a case resolved by trial would last longer than one resolved by settlement.
How to File a Case in Court in the District of Columbia
The District of Columbia makes allows for both e-filing and in-person filing. An individual who wants to file a case in court in the District of Columbia can either file pro se or through a legal representative. E-filing is one of the services provided on the court's homepage. One should bear in mind that not all case types can be filed electronically. Members of the public who want to use this method to file a case would be required to register. One would need to fill out details of basic information about the party filing.
There are several videos provided on the web page to teach users all there is to know about e-filing. Those who need more clarification can contact an e-filing specialist. In the case of filing in person, one can visit the courthouse to request the forms necessary for filing a complaint. Once the forms have been filled out, one can submit them to the clerk of court to be served to the defendant.
A complaint can be served directly to the defendant using a process server or via mail. If one chooses to serve a complaint via mail, one can either do so by sending it directly to the certified mail of the defendant or via first-class mail with prepaid postage.
If the defendant is a company or group of persons say partners, serving a complaint is different. One would need to file a copy of the complaint directly to the person authorized by the organization to receive service. For a partnership, one would need to serve every person who makes up the partnership individually.
What Does It Mean if a Court Case Was Resolved Before the Trial Date?
When a court case was resolved before the trial date it means the case was concluded before the trial date and the parties involved didn’t need to appear before a judge or jury. Only a few cases filed to the courts of the District of Columbia make it to trial, this is because most cases are resolved by,
- Settlement. A settlement can be reached through mediation, arbitration, or after a case evaluation. In all three a third party is selected as a neutral person in the case by the choosing of the individuals involved in a case under the supervision of the court to try to reach a settlement. If the evaluation of this third person is accepted by both parties, the case would not need to go to trial.
- Withdrawal, in the case of a withdrawal, the plaintiff or prosecutor takes back the complaint filed leading to the end of the case
- Dismissal. When a case is dismissed, it means that after evaluation of all that has been presented by one or both parties involved in a case, the court sees no need to continue the case.
- A default judgment is decided when the respondent to a court case fails to respond or ask for a time extension within the time frame allocated by the court.