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Where to Find Vermont Civil Court Records

Vermont Civil Court records refer to all official documents created when during the span of a civil suit within the jurisdiction of Vermont. The court also maintains these documents during court proceedings as well as during appeals. Generally, these documents include filings, disclosure statements, court transcripts, motions, notices of hearings, affidavits, interrogatories, etc.. The Clerk of Courts is the official custodian and disseminates Civil Court records in the District Court where the case was filed. Likewise, requesters may obtain these Civil Court records on VermontCourtRecords.Us.

Are Vermont Civil Court Records Public?

Yes, the Vermont Public Records Law grants interested members of the public may access and mandates the record's custodian to allow reproduction of non-confidential Civil Court records. The natural custodian is the Clerk of Courts Office in the local courthouse where the case was filed. However, the law makes exceptions for Civil Court records that contain sensitive identifying information on the litigants or information on minors. In this case, only the following entities have access to confidential and sealed court records:

  • Individuals involved in the litigation
  • Legal designees of the litigants
  • Attorneys of litigants
  • Certain government agencies
  • Court officials and law enforcement
  • Requesters armed with a court order

Types of Cases in Vermont Civil Courts

Generally, Vermont Civil Courts hear and settle civil cases under the Vermont Court Procedure. These cases are typically disputes involving individuals, private businesses, and public agencies. Unlike criminal cases, the defendants in civil suits do not face criminal charges or penalties. Also, the court resolves civil cases by ordering the defendant to satisfy an obligation or pay the compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiff. Involved parties may also resolve the dispute using mediation before the case proceeds to trial. Common civil cases in Vermont involve:

  • Redress for slander/libel
  • Breach of fiduciary responsibility
  • Stalking and invasion of privacy
  • Real estate appraiser malpractice
  • Insurance claims
  • Debt and debt payment
  • Business and contract disputes
  • Replevin actions
  • Consumer rights
  • Landlord-tenant disputes
  • Intellectual property disputes
  • Unfair business practices
  • Employer-employee disputes
  • Divorce and separation
  • Child custody and child support
  • Bankruptcy
  • Small Claims
  • Tort Cases
  • Contract and Property Disputes
  • Crime Trial
  • Sex Offenses

What is the Difference between Criminal Cases and Civil Cases in Vermont?

Vermont Statutes on Crimes and Criminal Procedure regard criminal cases as litigations involving offenses that harmed or have the potential to harm another individual or entity. In this case, justice seeks to punish the guilty offender rather than recoup the financial loss suffered by the victim. Therefore, 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, Vermont Court Procedure 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 Vermont?

The judiciary provides systematic instructions for accessing court records in Vermont. Generally, 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 Vermont Judiciary to find the address and contact information of the court of interest. Then the requester must complete and submit a court record request form in person or by mail at the Clerk's Office. 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?

Requesters may use the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system to find Civil 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, since these sites are not government-sponsored, the online availability of court records is not guaranteed. Also, access to confidential or sealed records containing the following information is restricted:

  • Private information, e.g., year of birth, social security number, and other identification numbers.
  • Information subject to attorney-client privilege
  • Government secrets
  • Testimony & identifying information on a minor
  • Information subject to journalist's privilege
  • Passwords and other access keys
  • Trade secrets
  • HIV-related testing information

What Is Included In a Vermont Civil Court Record?

The information on Civil Court records varies depending on the type of case, the litigants involved, the circumstances surrounding the suit, 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
  • Final judgments, agreements, or settlements

How to Access Vermont Civil Court Records For Free

Free access to Civil Court records is not the norm because Vermont Law requires that requesters cover the cost of copying or retrieving a record. However, the Clerk has the discretion to allow viewing of the record for free. Also, the Clerk of District Court provides free access to PACER portal on public terminals at the courthouse. The Clerk of Courts may also waive associated fees to access physical copies if the requester qualifies.

Likewise, under specific .circumstances, the PACER system exempts certain individuals from paying access fees. However, sensitive records and private information are not available with an exemption or 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 Vermont

Vermont Codified Laws allow litigants to make a petition to seal a court record if they contain information under 1 V.S.A. § 317. In order to seal a Civil Court record in Vermont, 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 the public's right to access the court record. Nevertheless, the litigants, attorneys of the litigants, their legal designees, certain court officials, and government agencies retain access to the sealed court records.

How to Access Sealed Civil Court Records in Vermont

Generally, the Clerk of Courts will deny a request to access sealed court records. Thus, the requester must petition the local court to issue a court order or subpoena. The presiding judge will only grant the petition 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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