Idaho court records from all 44 counties go online

By Betsy Russell

As envisioned two years ago by the Idaho Supreme Court’s “E-Records Committee,” at least some court records from every Idaho county court system are now available online. This significant step forward in access to public information is occurring through the Idaho Supreme Court Data Repository, which is now up on the Idaho State Judiciary Web site, and as of May 27, includes case information from all 44 Idaho counties.

Not everything is there yet – it’s not as complete a system as, say, the federal court’s Pacer system, which gives access to the full text of every document filed in a court case (and charges a fee). But it’s an important first step, and a good one as Idaho moves carefully into the new world of electronic court records.

As determined by the E-Records Committee, on which I served (along with judges, trial court administrators, attorneys, a victim advocate, a county clerk, John Peay, the court’s information services chief, and then-Idaho Supreme Court Justice Linda Copple Trout, who chaired the panel), the following information is not displayed on the system, to protect personal privacy:

  • The first six characters of Social Security numbers
  • Street addresses
  • Telephone numbers
  • Any personal identification numbers, including driver’s license numbers and financial account numbers

The Web site is being updated every night to reflect changes that occur in court records that day.

So what can you do on the new data repository? You can search for cases from a particular county by first and last name, company name, or case number. When something turns up on a search, you can pull up that record and get the basics – the charge, the date, the disposition, actions taken, fines assessed, etc. You can look at court calendars for upcoming cases and hearings in a particular county (though a glitch prevented me from looking at Ada or Canyon county calendars the last time I tried it; this is all still evolving).

When I ran a name search on myself for Ada County, I discovered two traffic tickets I’d just about forgotten about from back in the ‘90s. A search on the name of the late Congressman Helen Chenoweth revealed that in the early ‘90s, she was twice cited for failing to register her car. Much more interesting and useful information can be found in this database, and it should prove a useful tool for reporters.

Please go to the Idaho State Judiciary Web page, www.isc.idaho.gov , click on the prominent link at the bottom center under “Looking for an Idaho case record?” and check it out. I consider this the first step toward achieving a reporter’s dream system for Idaho court record access – that we’ll be able to access court records from all around the state online to do things like check on new cases filed, see when something happens in a case we’re following, know quickly when decisions come down, and look up previous cases quickly to verify facts on deadline. We’re getting there! If you have comments or suggestions on the repository, please let me know and I’ll pass them along to the courts.