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South Dakota Court Records

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Where to Find South Dakota Civil Court Records

South Dakota Civil Court records are official documents created during civil litigations and court proceedings within the jurisdiction of South Dakota. These documents include filings, disclosure statements, court transcripts, motions, notices of hearings, affidavits, interrogatories, etc., created throughout the history of a civil suit. The Clerk of Courts creates, maintains, and disseminates Civil Court records in the District Court where the case was filed. Likewise, requesters may obtain these Civil Court records on SouthDakotaCourtRecords.us.

Are South Dakota Civil Court Records Public?

Yes, under the South Dakota Open Records Law, the Clerk of Courts must grant requests from interested members of the public who wish to access and copy non-confidential Civil Court records. However, the public may not access Civil Court records that contain sensitive identifying information on individuals or information on minors. In that case, access is restricted to the individuals named on the record, their attorneys and legal representatives, court officials, and requesters armed with a court order.

Types of Cases in South Dakota Civil Courts

Generally, South Dakota Civil Courts hear and settle civil cases under the South Dakota Code of Civil Procedure. These cases are typically disputes involving two or more individuals, private companies, and public agencies. Unlike criminal cases, a defendant in civil cases does not face criminal charges or penalties. The court resolves civil cases by compelling the defendant to fulfill an obligation or pay damages to the plaintiff. The parties involved may also resolve the dispute through court-mandated mediation before the case proceeds to trial. Examples of civil cases include:

  • Torts and personal injury claims
  • Replevin actions
  • Breach of trust
  • Fiduciary negligence
  • Landlord-tenant disputes
  • Business and contract disputes
  • Intellectual property disputes
  • Unfair business practices
  • Medical malpractice claims
  • Employer-employee disputes
  • Real estate appraiser malpractice
  • Divorce and separation
  • Child custody and child support
  • Spousal support
  • Small Claims
  • Bankruptcy
  • Juvenile Records
  • Adoption
  • Emancipation

What is the Difference between Criminal Cases and Civil Cases in South Dakota?

Title 23A of the South Dakota Codified Laws regards criminal cases as those involving offenses that harmed or have the potential to harm another individual or entity. In this case, the financial loss suffered by the victim is not the main cause of litigation, and the court imposes penalties such as jail time or fines on the guilty offender. Also, the state initiates legal action during a criminal case. On the other hand, Statute 15-1-1 of South Dakota Codified Laws regards civil cases as those involving the enforcement or protection of private rights and the remedy or prevention of wrongs between individuals, private businesses, or public institutions. The court resolves civil cases by compelling the defendant to fulfill an obligation or compensate the plaintiff for wrongs. Also, the plaintiff must initiate legal action during a civil case.

How Do I Find Civil Court Records In South Dakota?

The Clerk of Courts creates, maintains, and disseminates Civil Court records at the local court where the case was filed and heard. Requesters may use the Court Finder maintained by the South Dakota Judiciary to find the address and contact information of the court of interest. Generally, a requester must visit the Clerk's Office in person during business hours to obtain the court records of interest. Besides, courts may allow mail-in requests, remote online access, or access to records at public terminals in the courthouse. Generally, in-person and online requests are the fastest means of accessing court records.

However, regardless of the means of access, a requester must provide the records' custodian with all the relevant information needed to facilitate the record search. This includes the date of filing, personal information about the litigants, case number, docket number, etc.

Furthermore, requesters will be required to provide a government-issued photo-ID to access court records at the Clerk's Office. Most courts also require requesters to pay a small fee to facilitate the search and cover the costs of copying the documents. Besides, requesters who seek certified records may incur additional fees. Likewise, requesters who seek access to confidential and sealed court records must provide a court order along with the aforementioned requirements.

How Do I Find Civil Court Records Online?

At the state level, requesters may obtain South Dakota Civil Court records online using the electronic case assessment resources on this webpage. Likewise, requesters may also use the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) to find court records online. Besides, third-party websites provide online access to court records. This is especially useful in finding multiple court records in different local jurisdictions. However, as third-party sites are not government-sponsored, the online availability of Civil Court records is not guaranteed. Nevertheless, if a record contains one or more confidential information, access is often restricted or denied. Such information includes:

  • Year of birth
  • Financial statements containing PINs and SSNs (except the last four digits)
  • Tax Identification Numbers (except the last four digits)
  • Trade secrets
  • Income tax returns
  • Employment examination
  • Identifying information on a minor
  • Testimony from a juvenile or minor
  • Voluntary termination of parental rights

What Is Included In a South Dakota Civil Court Record?

The information on Civil Court records varies depending on the nature of the case, the litigants involved, the local jurisdiction, etc. However, a typical Civil Court record contains the following information:

  • Name and address of the litigants
  • Name and address of the litigants' attorney (if represented)
  • Court summons
  • Notices of hearing
  • Details of the complaint or claim
  • Amendments to the complaint or claim
  • Disclosure statement
  • Depositions
  • Interrogatories
  • Damages sought
  • Injunctions
  • Affidavits and exhibits
  • Court transcripts
  • Judges' notes (if applicable)
  • Final judgments, agreements, or settlements

How to Access South Dakota Civil Court Records For Free

Generally, the Clerk of District Court provides free access to the PACER portal on public terminals at the courthouse. Under specific .circumstances, the PACER system exempts certain individuals from paying the mandated access fees. Likewise, the Clerk of Courts may also waive associated fees to access physical copies of a court record if the requester qualifies. However, sensitive records and private information are not available with an exemption or a waiver. To access these records, the requester must present a court order to the official custodian of the record.

How to Seal Civil Court Records in South Dakota

South Dakota Codified Laws allow litigants to make a petition to seal a court record if it contains information under Statute 15-15A-7. To initiate this action, the petitioner must file a motion to seal with the Clerk of Courts where the case was heard. Likewise, the court may grant a request to seal a court record if the petition demonstrates compelling privacy concerns that outweigh public right to access the court record. Nevertheless, the litigants, attorneys of the litigants, their legal designees, certain court officials, and some government agencies retain access to the sealed court records.

How to Access Sealed Civil Court Records in South Dakota

Generally, the Clerk of Courts will deny a request to access sealed civil court records. Thus, the requester must petition the local court to issue a court order or subpoena. The presiding judge will only grant the subpoena if the requester demonstrates specific legal interests and meets court requirements. Requesters who wish to access sealed court records may consult a civil law attorney or inquire about the procedure at the Clerk of Courts Office.

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