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South Dakota Court Records

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Registered Licenses is not a consumer reporting agency as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”). You understand and acknowledge that these reports are NOT “consumer reports” as defined by the FCRA. Your access and use of a report is subject to our Terms of Service and you expressly acknowledge that you are prohibited from using this service and this report to determine an individual’s eligibility for credit, insurance, employment or any other purpose regulated by the FCRA.

Are South Dakota Court Records Public?

Yes. The South Dakota Sunshine Law and the State of Dakota Unified Judicial System Court Records Rule are the two-State laws that govern public access to court records in South Dakota. The South Dakota Sunshine Law was introduced in 1935 and sought to promote transparency and accountability by the State Government. According to the law, all citizens of South Dakota and every other interested entity reserve the legal right to access public records in the State. Public records include documents and information from governmental bodies and agencies as the law provides. Since Courts in the State of South Dakota are government agencies, the general public is legally authorized to inspect and make copies of court records.

The Unified Judicial System Court Records Rule is found in Chapter 15 of the State of Dakota Codified Laws. The Court Records Rule regulates the procedures and requirements for accessing and obtaining court records in the State. It guides both the entities seeking access to court records and the court officials responding to the records requests.

According to the Court Records Rule, members of the public have the same access to court records unless provided otherwise by the rule. As defined in this context by the law, the public includes any person, business, association, organization, and non-profit entity. It also includes media organizations, and governmental agencies, provided other existing policies or statutes do not bind their access to court records.

Some entities are not enlisted as part of the public, according to the Court Records Rule. They include courts and court clerks and private or governmental entities or persons who assist courts in providing court services. Parties to a case and their legal representatives are also not part of the public with regard to their access to their court records.

However, it is essential to note that some court records in South Dakota are not open to the public. These records are regarded as confidential by the law. As such, interested persons must follow the legally stipulated procedures for requesting access to these documents. Some of the confidential court records outlined by the Court Rule include:

  • Information restricted from public access pursuant to Federal law, State law, or a court rule
  • Any record or case file that may affect the general public if disclosed
  • Abortion records
  • Adoption files and records
  • Abuse and Neglect court records
  • Personal information of a party who had submitted a request prohibiting access to records.

In South Dakota, a party to a case may submit a request to prohibit access to such court records. The court must issue a notice to all parties, and it shall hear any objection from other interested parties on the request. The Supreme Court may decide to provide an individual with access to confidential records when the purpose of the request overrides the purpose of prohibiting access.

What Shows Up on a South Dakota Court Records Search

South Dakota court records are official accounts of actions or judicial proceedings in the State's courts. Court records are documented in compliance with the South Dakota Supreme Court Rules. They are vital in understanding legal processes, tracking a case, fulfilling legal requirements, and for personal purposes. A South Dakota court records search can provide insight into the status of a case, the hearing date, the case decision, charges, disposition, names of case parties, and other pertinent case information.

How Do I Find Court Records in South Dakota?

The first step in obtaining court records in South Dakota is to find out who maintains the records. South Dakota court records' custodians are the Court Clerks. There are several ways to find court records in South Dakota. These include in-person requests, mail, fax, and remote search. In South Dakota, the type of records being requested determines the method for making the requests. For instance, a civil or criminal court record search can only be conducted through a Clerk of the Court. To find these records, the individual may visit the court where the case was heard or send a mail to the Court Clerk or Court Administrator. The request will provide details of the requestor, the record being requested, and the purpose of the request.

How to Obtain South Dakota Court Records in Person

To access court records in person, visit the State Supreme Court building at:

South Dakota Supreme Court
500 East Capitol Avenue
SD 57501-5070

Once a request is submitted, the court will respond within a stipulated time. The response usually contains information about the availability of the record requested. The Clerk of the Court shall provide the requestor with the right information capturing the request procedures. The Clerk shall also charge a record search fee of $20 for each search conducted. If the requesting party certifies that the record is being requested in line with a pending State or Federal cause of action, the Clerk shall charge a $5 fee. The Clerk also charges a fee for every name search conducted. The name may include the name of a business, a corporation, or an individual.

Interested persons may submit a request for compiled information from court records. These include information that is not available in an existing court report. The Supreme Court's Clerk may compile and disclose the information if the requestor meets the court's conditions. The Court Administrator takes this decision. To find confidential financial records, interested persons may file a motion backed up with an affidavit showing good cause for access to documents. The court shall grant access to such records if it decides that the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the parties' privacy interest.

South Dakota Court Records Public Access

For remote access to South Dakota court records, visit the South Dakota Unified System website. To process records on the site, requestors are required to download, complete, and upload a request form. Also, requestors are to provide the name of the party involved in the record and the date the record was documented. Criminal cases are available on the system from 1989 till date, and civil cases are available from 2003 till date. The database also houses court judgments from April 9, 2004. Individuals may search by county.

Requestors may also obtain records of civil money judgments from the South Dakota Judicial System query website. Every search attracts a fee of $20 whether or not the information is available on the database. Search by name is usually $4 per name, with an additional $1 handling fee to access the document. To use this service, the individual must register on the website. After that, the individual may use the pay-as-you-go option, where they are required to pay with their credit or debit card. Interested persons may also visit the State Court Administrator's Office to set up a subscription account for obtaining information on the website.

Individuals interested in criminal and protection records may search on the Public Access Record Search System (PARS). The system also allows individuals to access civil records.

How to Conduct a South Dakota Court Record Search by Name

A South Dakota court records search by name can be conducted online on the Unified Judiciary System website. This online tool can be located by clicking on the eServices menu on the state courts website. Then select Record Search from the dropdown menu. This automatically leads to the search page. Click on Perform a UJS Public Record Search (PARS) for a name-based search. A requester can either register an account to log in to the PARS or conduct a name search as a guest. The inquirer must provide the case party's last name and date of birth to conduct a search. A name search costs $20 per name. The court records will be sent to the requester by email.

A name-based court records search can be conducted by emailing a Record Inquiry & Search Request Form at or by mail. The researcher must provide the case party's full name and date of birth to conduct a search via this form. Individuals can request fee waivers via the request form. However, they must be case parties, their attorneys, or a qualified agency.

A court records search by name can also be done in person during business hours. The inquirer must visit the specific clerk of the court that handled the case. Upon getting to the Clerk of Court's office, provide the case party name, attorney name, or the name of the judge who presided over the case to the staff. Copies of the requested court document will be provided after fee payment.

How to Get Court Records Online for Free

The South Dakota Unified Judiciary System does not have a free online portal for court records queries. However, the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts in South Dakota provide a low-cost option for accessing court records online. Requesters can use the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) tool available on the court's website to get bankruptcy court records. Requests cost $0.10 per page and $3 per document. Fortunately, the following individuals can get bankruptcy records for free via the PACER tool:

  • Case parties who have received a Notice of Electronic or Notice of Docket Activity (one free copy) from a court.
  • Individuals or groups like academic researchers, indigents, non-profit organizations, and pro bono attorneys are exempted from paying fees.

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 South Dakota Judgment Records?

South Dakota judgment records are documents describing the outcome of a case decided in a court of competent jurisdiction in South Dakota. A judgment is an order or court-issued declaration on the contested issues in a lawsuit. This order is issued following a trial or examination of case facts and typically marks the end of a case unless a party appeals the decision in a higher court.

The clerk of courts is the designated record custodian for judgment records in South Dakota. The South Dakota Sunshine Law lets interested members of the public obtain copies of these documents, provided the requester can provide the necessary details to facilitate a search. A search 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 Information in South Dakota 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.

Are South Dakota Bankruptcy Records Public?

South Dakota bankruptcy records are considered public. Accessible records may include the financial data of individual and corporate debtors who have instituted legal proceedings under the United States Bankruptcy Code. The District of South Dakota Bankruptcy Court is the principal repository of South Dakota bankruptcy records. The Bankruptcy Code allows debtors to reorganize their debts through a repayment plan or outright liquidation of assets. In South Dakota, attorneys are obligated to file all documents using the Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF).

On the other hand, a limited filing user can only use the CM/ECF to file specific claim-related documents. Individuals who routinely file claim-related documents on behalf of large creditors are known as frequently limited filing users. The court's website contains a list of documents that a limited filer can file. Access to the CM/ECF via PACER using unique login data is crucial for electronic filing in South Dakota.

Bankruptcy records, South Dakota liens, and judgments can all be found by searching the district where they originated. However, requestors are generally required to provide some information to make the search easier. Additionally, the requesting party is typically required to cover the cost of research and reproduction of copies (if applicable).

How to Find Bankruptcy Records in South Dakota

Individuals can find bankruptcy records at the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts in the South Dakota office. This is because bankruptcy records are available to the public per the South Dakota Freedom of Information Act. Bankruptcy record requests can be made online, by phone, or in person at the courthouse. Phone requests can be made through the Multi-Court Voice Case Information System for free. This request method requires dialing (866) 222-8029 and saying the name of the court - "South Dakota". A search can be conducted by name, case number, social security number, or tax ID number. Record seekers should expect to retrieve the following case information:

  • Case status
  • Case number
  • Case chapter
  • Name of trustee
  • Case filing date
  • Discharge date (if any)
  • The name of the judge
  • Name of Debtor(s) or Parties
  • 341 meeting date, time, and location
  • The name of the attorney for the debtor(s)

Online requests can be made by registering an account with Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER). Registered users can conduct a search by a specific court or a nationwide index. Search fees cost $30 per name or item. Electronic delivery of bankruptcy records via PACER costs an additional $0.10 per page and $2.40 per audio file. Online requesters who want paper copies mailed to them would have to pay an additional $0.50 per page for paper copies.

In-person requests can be made at public terminals in the courthouse. Copies of bankruptcy records can be retrieved in person at the clerk's office from Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., for a fee. The clerk's office is located at:

U.S. Post Office and Federal Courthouse
225 South Pierre Street, Room 203
Pierre, SD 57501-2463
Phone: (605) 945-4460

Sioux Falls
U.S. Courthouse
400 South Phillips Avenue, Room 104
Sioux Falls, SD 57104-6851
Phone: (605) 357-2400

Can You Look Up Court Cases in South Dakota?

Yes, interested persons may look up court cases in South Dakota. This is usually done in person, at the office of a Court Clerk. The individual must submit a written request to the Clerk, who ensures that the requested records are available before proceeding. Each South Dakota court has rules and regulations guiding the request for updates on court cases in the State. Due to Covid-19, the State has reduced the operation of Court Clerks all over the State. This means that court records may not be easily accessible from the Court of the Clerk.

South Dakota Court Case Lookup Exemptions

Court records are public records per the South Dakota Freedom of Information Act. However, some court records are exempted from public disclosure. Confidential records are only available to a selected few, like case parties, their attorneys, and others authorized by law. Court records excluded from public records are:

  • Investigative records
  • Juvenile records
  • Adoption records
  • Personnel records
  • Confidential legal advice
  • Records on pending litigation

How to Find a Court Docket in South Dakota

A South Dakota court docket is an electronic file maintained by the South Dakota Clerk of Court for cases filed with them. A court docket lists the title of every document filed, the document filing date, and the date each document was entered into the docket. Individuals can use court dockets to find information about criminal and civil cases entered by state and county courts. Requesters can search for court dockets through the Public Access Record System provided by the South Dakota Courts.

Types of Courts in South Dakota

The South Dakota Unified Judiciary System comprises three different court levels:

  • Supreme Court: This is the highest court in the State, composed of five justices. The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over cases relating to state interests. It has Appellate jurisdiction over decisions made at the Circuit Courts and issues original and remedial writs.
  • Circuit Courts: These courts have original jurisdiction in civil and criminal proceedings. Circuit Courts have appellate jurisdiction over decisions made by Magistrate Courts. They also have exclusive jurisdiction in felony trials, arraignments, and civil cases, excluding areas of concurrent jurisdiction shared with Magistrate Courts. South Dakota has 7 circuits with 31 Circuit Court judges and 7 presiding judges.
  • Magistrate Courts: They handle cases involving criminal misdemeanors, civil cases that do not exceed $10,000, small claims that do not exceed $8,000, and issues warrants. Magistrate Courts also perform marriages, set bail, and conduct petty offense hearings. South Dakota has 16 full-time judges in 7 circuits.

The South Dakota Unified Judicial System also has Problem-Solving Courts that help combat addictions and mental illnesses that cause people to commit crimes. The types of Problem-Solving Courts in South Dakota are Veterans Treatment Courts, DUI Courts, and Mental Health Courts.

Civil vs Small Claims Courts in South Dakota: Understanding the Difference

South Dakota Civil Courts hear cases in which the petitioner seeks compensation of $300,000 or more. There are over 250,000 such cases recorded yearly in South Dakota. These cases are heard in the Circuit Courts. They include general civil claims for $12,000 or more in damages. However, civil cases may also involve non-monetary claims, including disputes over restraining orders and properties.

South Dakota, small claims courts, are informal court proceedings where individuals sue for small losses of money or property. South Dakota small claims involve claims of $12,000 or less under S.D.C.L. 16-12c-13. To file a small claim, the individual is required to fill and submit the small claims form to the Court Clerk in the county where the defendant resides or where the loss occurred. This form is obtainable from the Court Clerk. Small claims do not necessarily need an attorney. It is noteworthy that in South Dakota, each court has a small claims division set up to handle cases within its jurisdiction.

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