Instant Access to State, County and Municipal Records
Are Arizona Court Records Public?
The Arizona Public Record Law refers to a compendium of laws enacted in 1901 to foresee the accessibility and distribution of public records within the State of Arizona. Court records in Arizona are regarded as public records and, as such, may be accessed by the general public. The Arizona Public Record Law makes it the fundamental right of every Arizona resident to access public records. The purpose of this is to promote transparency and accountability by the government.
However, there are restrictions on public access to certain cases and documents as provided by Rule 123 of the Arizona Judicial Branch. Examples of cases and documents with such restrictions include sexual offense cases and warrant documents.
How Do I Find Court Records in Arizona?
The first step to take when trying to obtain court records in Arizona is to find out the courthouse in charge of the sought records. The Arizona Revised Statutes stipulated that public bodies are responsible for the safekeeping of their records. In Arizona, court clerks are responsible for keeping court records and making them available to the public.
Requesters may obtain copies of court records either by requesting them in person, by mail, or via online portals. For in-person requests, the requester may visit the particular courthouse where the case was filed. Upon making the request, the court clerk guides them on the necessary procedures to follow. Note that a walk-in requester may be required to put the request in writing.
To obtain Arizona court records online, the interested entity may visit the Arizona Judicial Branch website. The website is an online resource providing access to court case information from Municipal and Justice courts in the state. It provides court records from 177 courts in Arizona.
The Arizona Judicial Branch makes court case information from the Superior Court available via a web-based portal known as eAccess. The Arizona Supreme Court launched the online portal in a bid to enhance general transparency in judicial matters. eAccess was developed to grant 24/7 convenient access to public and unrestricted court case information and documents. The portal is accessible by both the public with deeper access provided to authorized entities such as attorneys, government agencies, and litigants.
Obtaining court records and documents attracts stipulated fees. Only approved government agencies are exempted from paying such fees before they can access court record information. However, it is important to note that out-of-state government agencies cannot obtain government agency access accounts and privileges.
To access the Superior Court records via the eAccess portal, requesters must register and pay for the applicable monthly subscription. Upon successful registration and login, the portal grants the user access to the court records provided they are available and accessible. The fee for each subscription depends on the limit of documents accessible per month.
Below is a list of the available subscriptions, their prices, and their access limits.
- Court case documents are accessed on a "Pay As You Go" basis, at $10 per document. This has no monthly subscription cost.
- Subscription fee of $80 grants access to a limit of 20 documents per month.
- Subscription fee of $200 grants access to a limit of 50 documents per month.
- Subscription fee of $360 guarantees access to a limit of 100 documents per month.
- Subscription fee of $640 grants access to a limit of 200 documents per month.
- Subscription fee of $1,050 grants access to a limit of 375 documents per month.
- Subscription fee of $10,000 grants access to a limit of 5,000 documents per month.
- Approved government agencies may access court case documents at no subscription fee.
- AOC or Access to Certified Documents enables a requester to purchase certified documents. This does not require a monthly subscription fee.
It is crucial to note that documents exceeding the stipulated limits for each subscription may be accessed at Pay As You Go document purchase price. However, court case information from some listed courts is not available via the online service. These courts include:
- Arizona Supreme Court
- Court of Appeals - Division 1
- Court of Appeals - Division 2
- Chandler Municipal Court (non-delinquent cases )
- Gilbert Municipal Court
- Justice of the Peace Courts (non-delinquent cases)
- Maricopa Superior Courts (non-criminal cases)
- Mesa Municipal Court
- Paradise Valley Municipal Court
- Tempe Municipal Court
- Pima Consolidated Justice Court (non-delinquent cases)
- Pima County Superior Court
For the Arizona Court of Appeals, interested entities may request to view or copy court documents. Those who want to view court records may submit their requests to the Office of the Clerk. Viewing of the court case information must take place in the viewing room of the Clerk's Office. As such, members of the public are not allowed to remove documents from the Clerk's Office. Requests for copies of court documents from the Court of Appeals can be made in any of three ways as follows.
- Counter Request
The requester may submit a Copy Request Form at the counter of the Clerk's Office. The office is located at 1501 W. Washington Avenue, Phoenix (2nd floor). Such requests can only be submitted during the Clerk's Office business hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday.
- Email Request
Completed Copy Request Form for copies via email may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Requesters must include full payment before they can receive requested copies.
- Mail Request
To obtain copies of court records via mail, a completed Copy Request Form may be mailed with check or money order payment to:
Court of Appeals
Division One Clerk's Office
1501 W. Washington Avenue
Phoenix, AZ, 85007
The Arizona Court of Appeals is required by state law to charge 50 cents per page for copies of court records. The requester may confirm the number of pages contained in the sought document by contacting the Clerk's Office via phone on (602) 452-6700. Alternatively, the requester may send an email to the court via email@example.com to ascertain the number of pages in requested case documents.
Requests for a Certified Copy of the sought documents attracts a certification fee of $17. Cash (in the exact change), money order, and check are accepted for payment. However, in some instances, a user may be allowed to pay via credit/debit card if the Clerk's Office grants permission. The card payment option may also require the payment of an additional user fee.
No matter the number of multiple cases being requested, the requester must use one request form per case. Also, if the copy request is more than ten pages, the requester may not be able to collect the copies immediately after payment. They will receive a notification from the Clerk's Office as soon as the copies are ready for collection.
Considered open to citizens of the United States, public 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.
How Do Arizona Courts Work?
There are three types of courts in the Arizona Court System based on their levels of jurisdiction. The jurisdiction levels of a court in Arizona determines the types of cases the court may handle. The three levels include the Appellate jurisdiction, the General jurisdiction, and the Limited jurisdiction.
Limited Jurisdiction in Arizona
Courts under this level have a limited jurisdiction, which implies that there are some cases beyond their authority to hear and decide. Factors that may limit these courts’ authority over certain cases may include the amount of money involved, the possible imposed sentence, or the parties involved. The two kinds of courts under the level of limited jurisdiction are the Justice of the Peace Courts and the Municipal (City) Courts. There are 20 full-time Municipal Courts judges in Arizona.
General Jurisdiction in Arizona
In the State of Arizona, the Superior Court is the court with general jurisdiction. It is also a statewide trial court and hears a wide range of cases, including criminal, civil, and family cases, among others. There is at least one Superior Court division in each of the 15 counties in Arizona. Each of these Superior Court divisions is referenced by its county location, for instance, the Pima County Superior Court. There are more than 100 Superior Court judges throughout the State of Arizona.
Appellate Jurisdiction in Arizona
Arizona State courts at the appellate jurisdiction level review court decisions appealed to them from lower courts. The two kinds of courts with appellate jurisdictions in Arizona are the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeals hears all the appeals made from the Superior Court except for some special cases exclusively reserved for the Supreme Court. Such exceptions may include cases involving the death penalty appeals and disputes among counties.
The Arizona Supreme Court is the only court that reserves the right to hear appeals from the Court of Appeals and other courts in general. It is often referred to as the court of last resort, being the highest level of courts in Arizona. The Supreme Court also maintains the right to choose whether to review the findings of lower jurisdiction courts or not.
What Are Civil Courts And Small Claims in Arizona?
In Arizona, civil cases are lawsuits between entities, usually involving claims of $10,000 or less. Civil cases may involve attorneys and can also be appealed to a court higher than the court in which the lawsuit was filed.
Generally, civil cases in Arizona are decided by Justice Courts. Such cases may involve evictions, landlord and tenant matters, breach of contract suits, and consumer complaints against businesses.
Justice Courts may also decide small claims cases. These cases usually involve claims of not more than $3,000. Small claims cases are mostly informally handled, often without the services of attorneys. However, attorneys may only be used only upon agreement by both parties.
Small claims cases are also not allowed to be appealed. Also, the filing of a small claims case must be done within the defendant's residence’s justice precinct or as otherwise provided by Section 202 of Title 22 of the Arizona Revised Statutes. Those who want to file small claims complaints may obtain forms directly from the court. Alternatively, they can get information on how to file electronically via the eFilling Information in Arizona.
What Are Appeals and Court Limits in Arizona?
When a party is not satisfied with the decision by a court, the party may apply for a review by a higher court. This is what is known as an appeal. Usually, an appeal for a case review is presented by an appellant in a written document referred to as a "brief.” The brief is written to persuade the higher court to reverse the lower court’s decision based on legal reasons such as an error in law.
In Arizona, the Court of Appeals neither accepts new hearings nor determine facts on an appeal. They only check for possible legal reasons why a lower court ruling may be reversed as requested by the appellant. Only an appellant or his legal representatives are authorized to apply for an appeal. Courts at the appellate level of jurisdiction in Arizona include the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court is the highest court in the State of Arizona. It has the authority to review decisions from every other kind of court, including the Court of Appeals.
How Do I Find My Case Number In Arizona
A unique number usually differentiates cases in Arizona courts. A case number helps identify vital information about a specific court case. A typical case number contains information about the following:
- The type of the case, example: Civil (CV) Criminal (CR) and Miscellaneous (MC)
- The year the case was filed.
- The court officer(s) to whom the case was assigned
Interested persons may contact the court clerk where a case is filed to obtain its case number. The request for a case number may be sent to the Clerk's Office via email or made in person. For the Superior Court, the Arizona Judicial Branch provides a list of the clerks’ offices and their respective addresses.
Can You Look Up Court Cases in Arizona?
The eAccess online portal provided by the Supreme Court grants accesses to applicants looking for Superior Court records. The portal holds information about cases filed from July 1, 2010 to date. However, the portal does not include court records from the Municipal and Justice Courts. Court case information from Justice and Municipal courts can be looked up via the Arizona Judicial Branch Case Search facility. Some cases are not included in the case search results. Such cases include mental health and probate cases, sealed cases, cases involving un-served Orders of Protection, and victims and witness data.
Does Arizona Hold Remote Court Trials
To minimize the spread and adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Arizona courts are authorized to hold remote court proceedings. This was stated in Administrative Order No 2020-197, released by the Arizona Supreme Court on December 3, 2020. According to the order, proceedings in all appellate, superior, justice, juvenile and municipal courts are allowed to hold via teleconferencing sessions.
The move was put in place to keep the state’s judicial system working during the pandemic. The emphasis is to limit in-person court proceedings by every means possible. The order also authorized judicial leaderships to resolve cases using available Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platforms. Furthermore, courts may collect defendants’ fingerprints during hearings through authorized procedures to establish their identities.
What is the Arizona Supreme Court?
The Arizona Supreme Court is responsible for providing rules of procedure for all other courts in Arizona. It is the highest court in Arizona. The Supreme Court reviews all appeals from the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court hears death sentence appeals from the Superior Court. It also regulates the State Bar of Arizona’s operations, such as the admission of new attorneys and disciplinary measures on attorneys
Arizona Court of Appeals
The Arizona Court of Appeals, also known as the intermediate appellate courts, was founded in 1965. It is one of the Arizona courts at the appellate jurisdiction level. It has its Division 1 in Phoenix and Division Two in Tucson. The Court of Appeals hears all cases properly appealed to it by the Superior Court. Cases are heard and decided by three-judge panels. The Governor of the State initially appoints judges of the Court of Appeals. They may still have a chance to be retained via re-election into a 6-year term. The Arizona Court of Appeals boasts of 22 judges in total.
Arizona Superior Court
The Arizona Superior Court has one or more divisional locations in each county in the state. It is Arizona's general jurisdiction court and also a statewide court. It hears and decides civil and criminal cases beyond the jurisdiction of Municipal and other lower courts. Each county's division of the Superior Court must have at least one judge. They may have one additional judge for every 30,000 residents in a county.
Arizona Justice Courts
The Arizona Justice Courts hear and decide civil cases with claims not more than $10,000. They share jurisdiction with the Superior Court in ruling landlord/tenant matters involving claims of within $5,000 to $10,000. They can issue search warrants, hear cases of domestic violence, harassment, and traffic cases. Each Arizona Justice Court is headed by a "Justice of the Peace.” Non-attorneys are allowed to be Justices of the Peace. All judges for Justice Courts must be at least 18 years, read and write English, and be a resident of Arizona. Visit the Arizona Judicial Branch website for more information about the requirements for a Judge of the Peace.
Arizona Municipal Courts
Municipal Courts in the State of Arizona are also known as Magistrate or City courts. Their jurisdiction covers petty offenses committed within their town or city. They also handle cases of misdemeanor crimes and share responsibilities with Superior Courts in state law violations. Note that most cases covered by their jurisdiction involve crimes committed within towns or city limits.
Misdemeanor criminal cases that can be heard by Municipal courts include traffic offenses such as hit-and-run, driving under alcohol influence, and other cases of reckless driving. They also hear civil cases involving traffic offenses and violations of city laws. However, they do not conduct hearings for lawsuits involving two citizens as the parties. They can also issue orders of Protection and injunction and search warrants. City charters or ordinances establish the requirements for eligibility and qualification of Municipal Court judges.
The judges are generally appointed by the town councils except for Yuma City, which conducts elections for the judges. The office terms for Municipal judges must be at least two years. It is the responsibility of either the city or town councils to set the terms for the judges.