South Dakota Court Records
What are South Dakota Civil Court Records?
South Dakota Civil Court records consist of the documents and records generated during civil court proceedings. They provide an account of the civil court hearings as well as details of parties involved. Civil court records also provide information related to different civil case actions, such as the verdict, motions, court summons, counter motions, and more. In compliance with state laws, interested members of the public may find South Dakota civil court records in the jurisdiction where the case was heard.. Some of the types of civil cases heard by South Dakota civil courts include:
- Breach of contract cases
- Workplace disputes
- Landlord/tenant disputes
- Family-related cases
- Claims of damaged against character (libel, slander, etc)
- Consumer complaints
- Tort, equitable claims
What is Included in a South Dakota Civil Court Record?
While records vary on a case by case basis, most civil court records contain the same general information some of which include:
- The name of the parties involved in the suit
- Details of the negotiation/agreement
- Court final verdict
- Court motions and counter motions
Understanding the South Dakota Court System
The South Dakota judicial system consists of two main levels: the Supreme Court and the circuit court. It also includes magistrate courts, which operate under the supervision of circuit courts.
South Dakota Supreme Court
The court of last resort, South Dakota’s Supreme Court serves as the highest court in the state. It consists of five judges: four justices and chief justice.
South Dakota Circuit Court
South Dakota circuit courts serve as the main trial courts for the state. They have general jurisdiction over civil litigation and criminal cases in the state. In addition to real estate disputes, juvenile matters, and equity cases, they hear general civil claims for $12,000 or more. The state’s circuit courts are spread across seven judicial districts.
South Dakota Magistrate Courts
South Dakota Magistrate courts have limited jurisdiction over select criminal and civil cases. They assist circuit courts with misdemeanor trials and violation of municipal ordinances. They also preside over civil cases for damages, debt or claims valued at less than $12,000.
Are South Dakota Civil Court Records Open to the Public?
Not all civil court records are open to the public. South Dakota’s constitution and public record laws prevent public access to court records sealed by law or court order. Records with confidential information may also be redacted before being released to requesters. Examples of records that may be closed to public view include:
- Records containing personal information of victims
- Records containing information of juveniles
- Records containing company trade secrets or sensitive information
- Records containing confidential information regarding legal actions involving public offices (except for details of the amount paid in settlement)
- Records linked with welfare cases and evidence filed by social services and related institutions.
- Records containing confidential financial information such as account numbers, credit card numbers, access codes, and social security numbers
How Do I obtain Civil Court Records in South Dakota?
Interested parties in South Dakota can obtain records using a variety of options. Most South Dakota courts provide options for accessing or inspecting records in person. Copies of records can be obtained by submitting a request to the records custodian for the court. Civil court records may also be available via mail or online.
How to Find Civil Court Records Online
South Dakota’s judicial branch maintains an online platform that allows for record searches. To use this service, members of the public will need to have relevant information, such as the name of the parties involved or the case number. Publicly available records are also accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels
How Do I Obtain Civil Court Records in Person?
Step 1. Identify the Right Court
To obtain records, members of the public will need to identify the courthouse where the case was filed. South Dakota courts preside over different types of cases based on the jurisdiction of the court. Some of these include:
- General Civil Cases: Often heard at Circuit courts
- Real estate cases: Most cases filed at the circuit court
- Small Claims: Most cases are filed at Magistrate court
- Civil Equity: Most cases are filed at Circuit courts
- Foreclosure and Liens: Cases may be filed at circuit or magistrate courts depending on the amount in dispute
- Ordinance violation: Most cases filed at Magistrate court
- Landlord/tenant cases: May be filed at circuit or magistrate courts
- Complex commercial cases: Most cases filed at circuit courts
Step 2. Collect the Required Information
In addition to identifying the court where the record is located, requesting parties must also provide specific information that can be used to conduct a search. This includes case-related information such as:
- The full name of the parties involved in the case
- Name of the attorneys and presiding judge
- The case file number (if known)
- The date the case was filed/heard
In situations where requesters are unable to provide sufficient information, the court clerk may still be able to conduct a search to find the record using unique details such as the attorney name. However, this service is not guaranteed and comes with an additional fee. The court clerk may also turn down requests for court records if the provided information is overly broad.
Step 3. Visit the Court Record Custodian
Most courts only process in-person requests for civil court records during official hours. Interested parties can identify the right time for a visit by contacting the courthouse or visiting the court’s web page. Records may be viewed in court libraries or using public-access computer terminals available at most courthouses. However, if the requestor requires confidential and/or certified records, the court clerk will process the search and authenticate the document. To proceed with the search, the requester is usually required to complete an implication indicating the required information as well as the personal and contact details of the requesting party.
Step 4. Meet Identification and Fee Requirements
To obtain copies of a civil court record, requesters may be required to provide government-issued I.D to the court. However, this is more likely to occur in cases where the records contain confidential information. In addition, most record custodians charge a nominal fee for the service of searching and making copies of the requested record. The exact fee varies with different courts. If the requestor is unable to provide a photo ID, other documents may be accepted as alternative forms of ID.