Are Nebraska Court Records Public?
The Nebraska Public Records Law permits all citizens of the state and all other interested persons to inspect and obtain copies of public records of government bodies. Consequently, qualified individuals can request and obtain Nebraska court records being public records, except they are not subject to public disclosure. Public records include all documents, irrespective of their physical forms, generated by government officials while performing their duties to the public. The Nebraska Public Records Law applies to all the branches of government at all levels (local and state). It is not mandatory for persons who seek to obtain Nebraska public records to state the purpose of making such requests. They are also not limited to the use of obtained records. § 84-712.03 of the Nebraska Revised Statutes authorizes anyone denied access to Nebraska public records to petition the state Attorney General. The essence is to determine if such documents are exempt from public disclosure or whether the custodian is not complying with the provisions of the Public Records Law. The following are some exceptions of the exceptions to Nebraska Public Records Law:
- Law enforcement investigations
- Trade secrets
- Medical records
- Information and documents bothering on security
A public record search in Nebraska by any custodian is free of charge, but the state law permits nominal fees for making copies of records. Members of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, however, are exempted from paying such fees. The Nebraska Public Records Law was enacted in 1886 and has had few amendments, with the most recent being in 2007. It was first amended in 1961 to provide that the public may make abstracts from public records.
How Do I Find Court Records in Nebraska?
The first step to take when trying to obtain court records in Nebraska is to find out the court where such documents are filed. The courthouses where proceedings take place in Nebraska typically keep records of court cases. Nebraska court records include civil court trials, misdemeanor court cases, divorce court cases, traffic court citations, and felony court cases. These records are publicly accessible in many ways, but interested persons must know what they seek and where to find them. Nebraska court records are available online and in courthouses.
How Do I Find District and County Courts Records in Nebraska?
Interested persons can use the JUSTICE one-time court case search system to access court cases filed in all 93 of Nebraska District and County Courts. Developed by the Nebraska Judicial Branch, this case management system can provide users with all public information on up to 30 court cases. Members of the public must, however, subscribe to Nebraska.gov in order to view Nebraska court records and other documents online. The JUSTICE search, when used, returns information such as case details, court cost, party listing, payments, and register of actions. The cost of using this case management is $15 per search, and users can either pay with a credit card or use Gov2GO Pay. Subscribers can search the court records of interest using the name of a party involved in such cases and may select other criteria to narrow their search. The data retrieved from a completed search are accessible to users for a period of three days. Note that there is usually a 24-hour delay-time between when a new case is entered into the case management system by the court and the time it is available for search.
The Nebraska Judgment Case Search also provides information on both County and District Court cases. It allows users to find court records using general case information such as judgment date, court type, county, and case type. Search results are typically free on this platform, but individuals who choose to view cases' details will pay a $1 fee. The fee is taken from users' Nebraska.gov account, implying that users must create accounts to use this service.
How Do I Find the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Court Records in Nebraska?
Citizens of Nebraska or all other interested persons can find records of court cases from the two appellate courts using the SCCALES case management system. This system requires a subscriber account through Nebraska.gov. Users can search SCCALES for cases filed in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals in two ways. One is searching by appellate case number, and the other is to use the trial case number. Appellate case number search displays full case details, and a $1 fee is charged for each search from a user's Nebraska.gov account. Requestors can access document images in PDF format for records filed after September 26, 2011. Document images may not be available for cases entered before this date.
Generally, interested persons can obtain court records in Nebraska from the clerks of courthouses in the state. It is even possible to retrieve restricted and confidential documents from the office of the clerk of the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court by submitting a completed Confidential Record form at the appropriate courthouse.
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 Nebraska Courts Work?
The courts recognized by the Constitution of Nebraska are the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, District Courts, County Courts, and other courts established by the Legislature - the Separate Juvenile Courts and Workers' Compensation Court.
The Nebraska Supreme Court hears appeals and performs an administrative leadership role for the judicial system in the state. It is mandated to review all cases regarding constitutional questions, the death penalty, and life imprisonment sentences. The Supreme Court oversees the practice of law and ensures that it is correctly applied at all levels of the state courts. There are seven justices in the Nebraska Supreme Court, one Chief Justice, and the others are associate justices. The Supreme Court has a primary responsibility of reviewing the decisions previously made on cases heard at the Court of Appeals if appealed. It is the state's court of last resort.
Most decisions deemed unfair regarding cases heard by Nebraska lower courts are appealed at the Nebraska Court of Appeals. Six judges sit on the Court of Appeals, one of whom is selected to serve as a Chief Judge for a 2-year renewable term. The court operates two separate panels consisting of three judges each. Cases decided by each panel differ, making the process of appeals faster.
The Nebraska District Court is a trial court of general jurisdiction. It serves as an appellate court in deciding on appeals from County Court cases and many administrative agencies. Most criminal and civil cases of all kinds may be initiated and heard at this court. The clerk of the District Court in each county of the state is usually the administrative officer of the court.
The Nebraska County Court is the state's trial court of limited jurisdiction. It has convergent jurisdiction with the District Court on specific divorce cases and civil cases involving $57,000 or less, misdemeanor criminal and traffic violations. The County Court handles cases of probate, adoption, small claims, guardianship, and municipal ordinance violation. Most juvenile cases are heard by the County Court, save Lancaster, Douglas, and Sarpy Counties, where such matters are handled by the Juvenile Court.
The Separate Juvenile Court hears juvenile matters in Douglas, Sarpy, and Lancaster Counties only. Juvenile cases in other counties within the state outside these three are tried by the County Courts. The Separate Juvenile Court primarily handles matters affecting delinquent, dependent, and neglected minors. The Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court has original jurisdiction over all claims regarding workers' compensation benefits stemming from sicknesses or occupational injuries. The court has seven judges who can sit in any part of the state.
What are Civil Court and Small Claims in Nebraska?
Nebraska Small Claims Courts are a division of County Courts that resolve minor disputes involving amounts less than $3,900. The type of matters the court handles is limited to civil actions. These include disputes over damage to property, the sum of money owed, and those seeking the return of personal property. Legal procedures in Small Claims Court do not necessarily require that lawyers represent both plaintiffs and defendants. Parties to a small claims dispute must make their arguments before the judge. The Nebraska Judicial Branch outlines the cost involved in filing small claims cases. Persons who intend to file a small claims case must complete the claim form (CC 4:1) and submit it to the clerk of the County Court. No person can file more than two small claims cases within any week or more than ten in any calendar year. The defendants in small claims cases can request to transfer such matters from Small Claims Court and have them heard as regular civil cases at the County Court.
What are Appeals and Court Limits in Nebraska?
Any party in a legal case that is not satisfied with a lower court decision may request that a higher court review such a decision through a process known as an appeal. The State of Nebraska operates a two-tiered appellate court structure. The Supreme Court is the court of last resort, while the Court of Appeals serves as an intermediary appellate court. The Court of Appeals corrects the errors of law made by the trial courts. The Supreme Court, on the other hand, reviews the decisions of the Court of Appeals and hears some appeals directly from the trial courts. Both Nebraska appellate courts have concurrent appellate jurisdiction in almost all types of cases relating to appeals from criminal, administrative, and civil matters. However, the Nebraska Supreme Court has sole jurisdiction over appeals involving capital cases and those faulting state laws constitutionality.
The Nebraska Supreme Court may move cases between its dockets and those of the Court of Appeals as it considers suitable. Nevertheless, most appeals are initially filed in the Court of Appeals. The Nebraska appellate courts grant oral arguments as of right in most cases, with a few exceptions, however. Verbal arguments cannot exceed ten minutes per side (appellant and appellee) in any civil or criminal case. In first and second-degree murder cases, oral arguments could go on for a maximum of 20 minutes per side. There are seven justices of the Nebraska Supreme Court, and they hear all of the court's cases en banc. The six judges at the Nebraska Court of Appeals hear cases in panels of three members. The combination of judges in each of the panels changes monthly to avoid compromise.
A notice of appeal in Nebraska must be filed within 30 days after the entry of the lower court decision. A person who intends to file an appeal must do so with the trial court clerk and pay the required fees. Any party who wants to file an appeal with the Court of Appeals must specifically request an appeal to the Supreme Court. However, a citation to statutory authority permitting a direct appeal must accompany such notice.
What Are Nebraska Judgment Records?
A Nebraska judgment record is created when a court of competent jurisdiction issues a criminal or civil case judgment, and the court clerk enters the judgment in the court docket.
Judgments are decisions on civil and criminal lawsuits filed in courts. Generally, a judgment concludes a typical case unless a litigant pursues an appeal or retrial. The clerk of courts is the record custodian of judgment records in Nebraska. The court official is also statutorily required to make the associated documents available to interested members of the public per the Nebraska Public Records Law.
Interested persons may obtain Nebraska judgment records from the clerk's office in the court that adjudicated the case of interest. Most courts have a standard case record request form, which the requester can use to submit the request. Generally, the information required on this request form is the case number and the names of the persons involved in the case.
The administrative staff will also require that the individual pay a service fee, including copying fees per page, before processing the request. Most courts accept cash, money orders, certified checks, and credit cards for these fees. While judgment records in Nebraska contain information that reflects the case type, there are similarities. A typical judgment record contains the litigants' and judge's names, the specific claims of the parties involved, and the issued judgment.
What are Nebraska Bankruptcy Records?
Bankruptcy records in Nebraska consist of documents compiled, maintained and handled by the bankruptcy court. A debtor initiates bankruptcy by filing a petition with the bankruptcy court. The debtor then submits the names and addresses of the creditors due, as well as the asset, income, and liabilities. The filing automatically stops creditors from pursuing additional measures to seek payment.
Debtors file for bankruptcy when they are unable to repay their creditors. Bankruptcy protects enterprises or individuals in financial distress and provides a way for firms and individuals to repay their creditors through reorganization or liquidation. Title 11 of the Bankruptcy Code governs these processes. Debtors often file one of three types of bankruptcy cases: chapter 7, chapter 11, and chapter 13.
Along with bankruptcy records, Nebraska Liens, contracts, writs, and related records are made public under the state public records law. To request a record, the inquirer may be required to provide the information needed to facilitate the record search and cover the cost of research and duplication, depending on the nature of the request.
How Do I Find My Case Number in Nebraska?
A case number is a unique identifier of a court case. It is assigned at the point of filing a lawsuit to differentiate it from the court's previous or future case files. Interested persons can retrieve their court case numbers online or by visiting the courthouses hearing such cases. The JUSTICE one-time court case search system can help anyone find their case numbers in the State of Nebraska. Searching this online database with their names will return a handful of information, including case numbers. Additionally, the Nebraska Judgment Case Search offers members of the public a platform to search Nebraska court cases. To find a case number using this portal, interested individuals can search using the court type, case type, and a few other criteria to streamline search results. Such individuals can then retrieve their case numbers from the search results. Anyone who wants to engage a courthouse to find a case number must be sure to have ample information to facilitate a smooth search.
Can You Look Up Court Cases in Nebraska?
The citizens of Nebraska and other members of the public can look up court cases in Nebraska. Information on any court case is available at the courthouse hearing them. Anyone who wishes to look up case information should first identify the case type and the court where it was filed. A clear picture of these will inform the next line of action. Alternatively, interested persons can use the JUSTICE one-time court case search system and Nebraska Judgment Case Search developed by the Nebraska Judicial Branch to look up cases of interest. Both platforms are online databases of cases filed at the Nebraska District and County Courts. They display useful public information on any court case of interest upon search. However, a subscriber account on Nebraska.gov is required for anyone to access both case management systems.
Does Nebraska Hold Remote Trials?
Yes, but not to a full capacity. Although the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic forced many states to close their courts, Nebraska courts have remained open. The Chief Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court issued an order mandating all courts to open while also putting some measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus. The decision on how to manage courtroom proceedings was left at the discretion of each presiding judge. Some counties in Nebraska are holding proceedings remotely, by video teleconferencing and telephone conferencing. Others still have in-court hearings but under strict compliance to COVID-19 safety protocols. However, the state's civil and criminal jury proceedings have been practically on hold for most courts since the beginning of the pandemic.
What is the Nebraska Supreme Court?
The Nebraska Supreme Court was established in 1875. It is Nebraska's highest court. The Supreme Court oversees the practice of law in the entire state and supervises the admission and discipline of attorneys. The state has six judicial districts. Seven justices are sitting on the Nebraska Supreme Court, one of whom serves as the Chief Justice. The others are associate justices, each representing a judicial district. A potential candidate for service on the Nebraska Supreme Court must be a U.S. citizen who must have practiced law in the state for at least five years. Such persons must not be less than 30 years old and must be licensed to practice law before the court. The Nebraska Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction over cases involving sentences of life imprisonment, death sentences, or objections to the constitutionality of state laws. The court also has discretionary authority over legal matters appealed from the Court of Appeals. A majority of the justices sitting can pronounce a decision except in cases that involve the validity of the act of the Nebraska Legislature.
Nebraska Court of Appeals
The Nebraska Court of Appeals comprises six judges from which a Chief Judge is selected to serve a 2-year renewable term. It was established on September 6, 1991, as an intermediate appellate court by a constitutional amendment approved by Nebraska voters. The judges are divided to constitute two panels, each with three members. These panels preside over and decide separate cases to prevent delays in the processing of appeals. However, their composition is not permanent. The Court of Appeals Judges are appointed from the six judicial districts of Nebraska.
Individuals seeking to appeal a lower court decision must do so directly to the Nebraska Court of Appeals, except such cases involve life imprisonment or death sentences. These cases and those challenging the validity of state laws can be appealed directly to the Nebraska Supreme Court. Parties in a case appealed to the Court of Appeals may file a petition to bypass the court with the Nebraska Supreme Court. The Supreme Court may grant such petitions if it finds it necessary, and the case will be transferred to the Supreme Court without being heard at the Court of Appeals.
Nebraska District Court
The Nebraska District Court is a court of general jurisdiction, and there are 12 of them in the state covering all 93 counties. It is a trial court with original jurisdiction in equity cases, domestic relations cases, all felony cases, and civil cases involving amounts more than $57,000. The District Court also performs appellate functions over some cases from the Nebraska County Court and appeals from the state's administrative agencies. The court only reviews the evidence and testimony from administrative agencies or the County Court in its capacity as an appellate court to rule on an appeal. Below is the distribution of the 12 District Courts by counties in Nebraska:
- 1st Judicial District - Otoe, Gage, Jefferson, Thayer, Fillmore, Pawnee, Nemaha, Richardson, Saline, and Johnson
- 2nd Judicial District - Sarpy and Cass
- 3rd Judicial District - Lancaster
- 4th Judicial District - Douglas
- 5th Judicial District - Boone, Merrick, York, Hamilton, Butler, Nance, Platte, Polk, Saunders, Seward, and Colfax
- 6th Judicial District - Dodge, Cedar, Washington, Dixon, Burt, Thurston, and Dakota
- 7th Judicial District - Antelope, Cuming, Knox, Madison, Pierce, Stanton, and Wayne
- 8th Judicial District - Blaine, Boyd, Brown, Cherry, Custer, Garfield, Greeley, Holt, Howard, Keya Paha, Loup, Rock, Sherman, Valley, and Wheeler
- 9th Judicial District - Hall and Buffalo
- 10th Judicial District - Adams, Clay, Franklin, Harlan, Kearney, Nuckolls, Phelps, and Webster
- 11th Judicial District - Arthur, Chase, Dawson, Dundy, Frontier, Furnas, Gosper, Hayes, Hitchcock, Hooker, Keith, Lincoln, Logan, McPherson, Perkins, Red Willow, and Thomas
- 12th Judicial District - Banner, Box Butte, Cheyenne, Dawes, Deuel, Garden, Grant, Kimball, Morrill, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan, and Sioux
Each county in Nebraska has a clerk in the District Court who also serves as administrative staff in the court. According to Nebraska law, counties with at least 7,000 residents must have an elected clerk in the District Court. However, the District Court Judge and the county board in counties with less than a population of 7,000 may decide whether to have a clerk of the District Court or not.
Nebraska County Court
The Nebraska County Court is a trial court with limited jurisdiction. Each county of the state has a District Court, implying 93 of these courts in the entire Nebraska. The District Court handles cases such as municipal ordinance violation, probate, adoption, and preliminary hearings in felony cases. They also try civil cases involving $57,000 or less and some juvenile matters. However, the Separate Juvenile Court handles juvenile cases in Lancaster, Douglas, and Sarpy Counties.
Nebraska Separate Juvenile Court
The Nebraska Separate Juvenile Court is responsible for hearing juvenile matters in Douglas, Lancaster, and Sarpy Counties. The District Courts in the other 90 counties handle all juvenile-related cases. These cases usually involve domestic relations where the care, support, or custody of minors is an issue.
Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court
The Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court has the obligation of applying and enforcing all the provisions of the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act. It has seven judges who move around the state to hear cases involving claims for workers' compensation benefits resulting from illnesses or occupational hurts. Decisions made at this court may be appealed at the Nebraska Court of Appeals.