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Vermont Court Records

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Are Vermont Court Records Public?

Yes, Vermont Court records are public records. The Vermont Supreme Court makes it explicit for court record custodians to evaluate court record requests based on the Vermont Rules for Public Access to Court Records and the Rules Governing Dissemination of Electronic Case Records, not the Vermont Public Records Act. According to these Rules, court records are open to any members of the public for inspection or to obtain copies. Specifically, the Rules provide that members of the public be granted access to all case records, except where a record has been redacted or is exempt from public disclosure due to other legal reasons.

Under Vermont court record governing rules, courts in the state are not authorized to provide public access via the Internet to criminal or family case records. Vermont courts may permit certain criminal justice agencies internet access to criminal case records for criminal justice purposes. Note that Vermont courts still provide electronic access to court schedules of the Superior Court, opinions of the Criminal Division of the Superior Court, and decisions, recordings of oral arguments, briefs, and printed cases of the Vermont Supreme Court.

What Shows Up on a Vermont Court Records Search

A Vermont court record is any document, data, information, or recording about a case. These records are typically generated during court proceedings. Per Vermont Public Records Act, court records are open to the public unless exempted by law. Court records have legal and personal importance. They can keep the public in the loop about court decisions on cases filed and the judicial process in arriving at a resolution. Individuals who desire access to court records conduct a court record search online, by mail, email, or in person through the record custodian in the court where the case was filed. A court records search provides inquirers with information such as the names of case parties, case details, charges, disposition, and attorneys' names.

How Do I Find Court Records in Vermont?

The first step to take when trying to obtain court records in Vermont is to determine the courthouses where the cases were filed. Each courthouse has a designated record custodian, which is usually the clerk of courts. Vermont court records are kept in both paper and electronic formats. Therefore, requesters can access court records either in person at the appropriate courthouse or online via remote access. Note that only case information can be accessed online. To obtain actual court records, requesters are required to visit courthouses in person. Nominal fees are charged to obtain court records through record custodians.

Vermont Court Records Public Access

Members of the public can access electronic copies of case information for Vermont Superior Courts and the Judicial Bureau in Vermont on the Vermont judiciary website. Through the VTCourtsOnline, users can access electronic copies of detailed case information for the civil divisions (including civil and small claims cases) from Vermont Superior Courts. Detailed case information about the criminal and family division cases, including criminal, domestic, and juvenile matters, is currently not accessible through VTCourtsOnline. VTCourtsOnline allows users to perform a search by one of these two options:

  • Name Query
  • Docket Number Query

To use VTCourtsOnline, users are required to set up an account for a one-time price of $12.50. This fee permits users to perform five detailed docket lookups, name queries, and case summaries at no additional cost. However, to view the docket page that shows current docket information, a $.50 fee is charged. Requesters may purchase additional lookups at any period after creating a VTCourtsOnline account.

Note that court records from the Probate Division, Environmental Division, Judicial Bureau, the Supreme Court, as well as the Civil Division cases filed in the Chittenden and Franklin units are not available on the VTCourtsOnline platform. However, individuals can access criminal, family, and probate case information at the courthouse public access terminals.

To access case information from the Environmental Division and the Judicial Bureau, and Superior Courts case information for Windham, Windsor, Orange Counties, Bennington, Rutland, Addison, and Chittenden Counties, visit the Vermont Judiciary Public Portal. The portal allows users to gain access to electronic copies of case information by two options:

  • Case record number
  • Name of a party involved in the case

The portal provides advanced filters for users to obtain a more precise search result through other options such as:

  • Case type
  • Case status
  • Booking number
  • Citation number
  • Court location
  • Attorney bar number
  • Attorney name

The Vermont Judiciary Public Portal is a web-based tool that allows court users and members of the public to obtain customized role-based access to court records, hearing calendars, and other data. Other than providing access to court records and data, the portal also allows users to pay court fines online from any location on compatible devices. It is not mandatory to register to use the Public Portal. However, anonymous users can access limited types of cases and hearing information.

Individuals such as attorneys and self-represented litigants who are entitled to elevated access to particular cases in which they were involved are required to register on the portal before submitting a request for that access. The one-time registration on the Public Portal provides ongoing elevated access for all subsequent cases in which the person is involved. Non-attorney participants and case parties can request elevated access to the Public Portal by completing the Vermont Judiciary Public Portal Access Request Form. Completed forms must be filed with the court before completing online registration on the Public Portal.

Vermont establishes the following fees for obtaining court records from record custodians:

  • $0.25 per page - photocopy of court records or other court materials produced by photocopy equipment
  • $10 - Exemplified copies
  • $5 - Official or certified certificate
  • $5 - Authentication of documents

Visit the court fees page of the Vermont Judiciary website to view other standard court fees in Vermont courts.

Complete the Request for Access to court record form and submit it to the appropriate court to obtain a court record in person. In case of a denial, a requester can submit a completed Appeal - request for access to court record form to file an appeal. Use the Find a Court tool on the judiciary website to view the locations of all courts in Vermont.

How to Conduct a Vermont Court Record Search by Name

A record seeker can conduct a court record search by name online or in person at the courthouse where the case was filed. Online requests can be made via the Vermont Judiciary Odyssey Public Portal. Public users can only view Civil Division and Judicial Bureau cases. However, case parties, attorneys, and some public agency personnel can sign up for elevated access to case records. The name search criteria available via the portal allow requesters to search by case party or business name.

Requesters can visit the appropriate courthouse to view and access the court records via their public access terminals (PAT). The PAT search process is similar to remote access to the Public Portal. However, PAT users can access more records than remote users. To conduct a name-based search via PAT, go through the Public Portal and click "Smart Search". Type in a party name related to the case(s), then submit the search. A list of cases related to the search will be displayed on the screen. Click on any resulting case number to begin viewing the court record. No fee is charged for viewing court records, but copies printed via public access terminals attract a small fee.

Copies of court records can also be retrieved by submitting a Request for Access to Court Record form by email, mail, or in-person to the court where the case was filed. Paper copies of court records cost 25¢ per page (minimum of $1), and certified copies cost $5. Individuals requesting records no longer stored at the courthouse must pay a $7.50 "finder's fee" in advance. Payment can be made by check, money order, or credit card (over the phone).

How to Get Court Records Online for Free

The Vermont Judiciary has a public portal where anyone can get court records for free. Users can choose to register an account or not, depending on the level of access they want. Registration is limited to case parties, attorneys, and some public agency personnel. To get court records via the portal, just scroll down and click on the Smart Search tool. Search criteria are by party name or case number.

Alternatively, requesters can use the PACER tool available on the United States Bankruptcy Court District of Vermont website to access court records at $0.10 per page. Eligible individuals might be able to use the PACER tool for free.

Considered open to citizens of the United States, court 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.

What Shows Up on Vermont Judgment Records?

Vermont judgment records are documents describing the outcome of a case decided in a court of competent jurisdiction. A judgment is a court-issued order or declaration on contested issues in a case. Judges issue these orders or declarations following a trial or examination of case facts, and court clerks are responsible for entering the record into the court docket.

The clerk also acts as the designated record custodian for Vermont judgment records. Per the Vermont Rules for Public Access to Court Records, persons who wish to obtain copies of judgment records may submit a request to record custodian via established channels. The requester must also provide the necessary details to facilitate a search.

In Vermont, a search for judgment records begins with an in-person visit to the clerk's office during regular business hours. The individual must submit a formal request, providing the case identifying details and paying the applicable court fees. The court administrative staff will process the request and issue regular copies of the requested documents. These copies suffice for most informational purposes, but a person may also request certified judgment records at additional costs.

The information in Vermont judgment records varies with the case type. Still, persons who obtain these documents can expect to see the litigants' names, the judge's name, a concise case description, and the court's decision on the contested matters.

Aare Vermont Bankruptcy Records Public?

Vermont bankruptcy records are open to the public, as provided by the Vermont Public Records Act. Available records include documents created and maintained by the bankruptcy court in Vermont. Anyone who has become incapable of fulfilling financial obligations as stated in a contract has the right to file for bankruptcy as it is governed by federal law. The bankruptcy courts in the state are in Rutland and Burlington. Once bankruptcy is filed, it prevents creditors from collecting their debt until the bankruptcy is complete. However, bankruptcy cannot wipe out certain debts. These debts include:

  • Child support
  • Debts not listed when filing for bankruptcy
  • Student loans
  • Debts incurred from embezzlement
  • Debts owed to pension

Different kinds of bankruptcy are filed under the bankruptcy code. Some chapters include:

  • Chapter 7 liquidates debtors' assets to pay off the creditor
  • Chapter 11 is used by businesses to operate without losing assets while they pay off debt from the income generated.
  • Chapter 13 allows debtors to file a repayment plan to pay off

Bankruptcy records, alongside writs, judgments, Vermont liens, and related records, are maintained and disseminated according to the provisions of the state public information act. Interested parties can view or copy these documents by contacting their local record custodian, who maintains them on behalf of that jurisdiction.

How to Find Bankruptcy Records in Vermont

Anyone can inspect or obtain copies of bankruptcy from the United States Bankruptcy Court District of Vermont. This is possible because bankruptcy records are public information per Vermont Public Records Act. A requester can sign up for a Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) account to access bankruptcy records online. A search can be conducted by a specific court or nationwide index. Access to court records costs $0.10 per page and $3 per document. Eligible individuals can request fee exemption.

Individuals with touch-tone telephones can get bankruptcy records through the Voice Case Information System (VCIS). All that is required is to call (866) 222-8029, press #43, then enter a case number, party name, tax ID, or social security number. Then the computer will read the bankruptcy case information directly from the court database. This phone service is available 24/7.

Close bankruptcy records are available at the National Archives and Records Administrator (NARA) office. Copies of such records can be ordered online, by mail, fax, or in person from the Boston Federal Records Center. To make online requests:

  • Go to the National Archives Order Reproductions page
  • Click on "Order Reproductions" then "Court Records".
  • Select the bankruptcy court
  • Follow the onscreen prompts to create an account and order a record

Mail and fax requests can be made by submitting a Bankruptcy Form to the Boston Federal Records Center. Processing time takes about 1 to 3 business days. The cost of NARA bankruptcy records reproduction varies by type. In-person requests can be made by visiting the Center at:

Boston Federal Records Center
Frederick C. Murphy Federal Center
380 Trapelo Road
Waltham, MA 02452-6399
Main Phone: (781) 663-0130
Main Fax: (781) 663-0155

Can You Look Up Court Cases in Vermont?

Yes, members of the public may look up court cases in Vermont per state statute. Vermont provides online access to non-confidential records of some of the courts in the state. Interested persons can access the VTCourtsOnline portal or the Vermont Judiciary Public Portal to look up case information. The VTCourtsOnline portal provides access to detailed case information for the civil divisions of Vermont Superior Courts. Requesters are required to set up an account on the portal for $12.50. Certain jurisdictions also provide access through the public access terminals in the courthouses for the public to look up case information.

Case information for the Environmental Division and the Judicial Bureau is available on the Vermont Judiciary Public Portal. Unlike VTCourtsOnline, this portal can be used without any charges. However, case parties may request elevated access in order to access detailed information for cases involving them.

Vermont Court Case Lookup Exemptions

The Vermont Public Records Act reveals that not all court records are available to the public. These exemptions are usually put in place by law, administrative court rule, the precedential decision of the supreme court, or because the record is sealed/expunged. Examples of confidential court records are adoption records, investigative records, juvenile delinquency proceedings, mental health records, confidential legal advice, and records on pending litigation. These confidential court records are only open to case parties, their attorneys, and individuals with court orders authorizing access to such records.

How to Find a Court Docket in Vermont

A Vermont court docket is a formal record that includes all the fillings and proceedings of a case. It shows all of the court materials involved in the case. Individuals can use a court docket to track all events, filings, hearings, and decisions in a case. Court dockets typically contain a docket number, nature of suit, names of parties and attorneys, and docket proceedings. Individuals can find court dockets on the Vermont Judiciary website.

Types of Courts in Vermont

The Vermont court system consists of an appellate court and a trial court. The appellate court is the supreme court which is the highest court in Vermont. The supreme court handles appeals from lower courts and state and municipal agencies. It creates rules of procedure for court cases and manages the court system. The supreme court oversees the attorney admissions and the discipline of all judges and attorneys licensed to practice in Vermont. There are 5 justices in the state. The trial court is generally called the superior court in Vermont. All the 14 counties in the state have a superior court which is divided into:

  • Family division: Handles divorce, civil union dissolution, separation, child support and custody, and parentage cases.
  • Criminal division: Handle misdemeanor and felony cases. The criminal division also has special treatment courts like juvenile drug, mental health, adult drug, and DUI courts.
  • Environmental division: It deals with cases relating to environmental law.
  • Civil division: Handles civil matters like land disputes, foreclosure, medical malpractice, breach of contract, and eviction. The civil division also includes a small claims court that handles claims not exceeding $5,000.
  • Probate division: Handles emancipation, adoptions, guardianship, correction and establishment of death, birth, and marriage records, and the probate of estates, trusts, and wills. Vermont has 14 Probate Division judges.
  • Judicial Bureau: Handles cases relating to civil violations like traffic, municipal ordinance, cruelty to animals, lead hazard abatement, and non-criminal marijuana.

Civil vs Small Claims Courts in Vermont: Understanding the Difference

Vermont Small Claims Courts are designed to be informal, simple, and inexpensive for both plaintiffs and defendants. Court sessions are relaxed, and although lawyers may represent parties, individuals are allowed to represent themselves. Only cases in which the amount in controversy does not exceed $5,000 can be brought before Vermont Small Claim Courts. Individuals and businesses can be sued. Any person who brings a case in which the amount involved exceeds $5,000 to the Small Claims Courts gives up the right to seek more than the set small claims amount. Note that Vermont does not permit plaintiffs to split one claim into many cases to get around the $5,000 limit.

Vermont only allows plaintiffs to sue for money in its Small Claims Court. Hence, a person suing cannot ask for a return of property or repossess a lost job. Summarily, Vermont Small Claims Courts are not the right court if a case is very complicated or if the plaintiff wants:

  • To sue for over $5,000
  • To sue for something other than money
  • A jury trial

Vermont Civil Courts are the appropriate courts to handle cases of the above-listed types. A plaintiff is required to be at least 18 years of age to sue in a Small Claims Court. Any individual below the age of 18 is required to have a guardian or parent sue on their behalf. The state does not also permit an individual to sue for someone else. For instance, if a couple wants to sue someone, Vermont requires both spouses to sign all the necessary court papers and appear at the hearing. Small Claims Courts cannot guarantee that a plaintiff or defendant who gets a judgment in small claims cases will be paid their dues. Judgment creditors are responsible for seeking alternatives to obtaining winnings if judgment debtors do not pay what the court orders.

Unlike the Small Claims Court, parties are typically represented by attorneys in Civil Court cases,

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