What are public record civil court actions?

Written by john barron
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Civil court actions are lawsuits filed by a plaintiff against a defendant. Each civil action is docketed by a court and tracked. Every pleading that is filed in connection with the civil action becomes a matter of public record and, as such, is available for inspection.

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Every civil action that is filed with a court is assigned a unique docket number that is used to identify the lawsuit as well as all legal documents associated with that particular case.


To view the court records, a person must know either the docket number or the name of one of the parties in the lawsuit.


Civil court actions can encompass nearly every imaginable dispute, from breach of contract cases to divorce and class-action litigation.


Documents available for public inspection include every document filed with the court from the moment the action was filed up through a trial of the matter. The complaint filed by the plaintiff gives a general idea of the dispute, and the answer filed by the defendant indicates his response. Motions filed by either party, which are requests to the court for specific relief, are also available for inspection.


If warranted, due to the sensitive nature of some civil proceedings, certain records associated with civil court actions may be sealed by order of the court. Child custody cases, certain divorces and guardianship matters may not be available for public inspection.

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