From the Court Information Office, for immediate release (Nov. 16, 2007)
[Those] interested in looking up a Minnesota trial court record will find the task easier as of noon, today, when access to some trial court records became available through the web site of the Minnesota Judicial Branch. ( <http://www.mncourts.gov> www.mncourts.gov) Records for the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals became available through the web site earlier this year. Until now, however, anyone interested in looking up a trial court record could only do so by going to a public access computer terminal at a courthouse.
The new service allows a viewer to search criminal cases by case number, defendant name or attorney name. Name searches will be limited to cases where at least one charge has resulted in a conviction. The on-line search will also not list addresses.
Civil, family and probate cases can be searched by party name, case number or attorney name. The system will also allow for searches of court calendars by party, business name, case number, judicial officer or attorney name.
"Our staff has been working hard for several years to create a single, state-wide court record system," said State Court Administrator Sue Dosal. "Remote access to court records via the Internet is one of the many new benefits creation of a single system will allow."
The service, Minnesota Public Access Remote (MPA), is a public view of the new trial court records system, the Minnesota Court Information System (MNCIS). MNCIS, which was created by merging 10 different databases and multiple case management applications, includes more than 9 million case records dating back to the mid-1970s. The final two pieces of the system, Ramsey Country court criminal case records, and Dakota County Court records, will be added to the system in early 2008.
The new statewide case records system allows the Judicial Branch to share court records with other justice system agencies, including police, prosecutors and corrections officials.
Court officials are discouraging use of the MPA service for criminal background checks. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension offers a criminal background check service that links prior criminal history through fingerprints to verify identification of the individual. The MPA service for court records cannot provide this level of verification.
Court officials cautioned that name searches conducted through the MPA service could be unreliable because the person identified in the search could have the same name, birth date or other identifiers as someone else. In addition, criminal offenders frequently use aliases, including the names
The court system staff has been working to eliminate duplicate records and mistaken entries as the new system has been built. Court officials are hoping people who find an error in a court record will notify the courts so the record can be corrected. Viewers will not be able to modify the case records. Only court administrators can authorize changes.
"Many, many people have worked very hard over several years to convert a fragmented, hard to search, outdated case records system into this new, state-of-the art case management system," said Sue Dosal. "In the coming years, the creation of MNCIS will allow us to add many new capabilities and services that will benefit court employees, court policy makers and the tens of thousands of people who interact with Minnesota's courts each year. We envision adding services such as e-filing of cases, remote payment of court fines and fees, up-to-date accounting information and much, much more."
"Robert Hanson, our Chief Information Officer, and his Information Technology staff and the hundreds of court employees who worked on this project have developed a system that will benefit Minnesotans for years to come."