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What are Hawaii Civil Court Records?
Hawaii Civil Court records are official documents which contain details of civil case proceedings in Hawaii courts. These records are usually maintained by various court clerks. Most Civil Court records are publicly available in Hawaii. Interested members of the public may find Hawaii civil court records in the jurisdiction where the case was heard
Understanding the Hawaii Civil Court System
The Hawaii judiciary system is divided into four districts. These are the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th judicial districts (the 4th circuit was merged with the 3rd circuit in 1943). Each of these districts has trial courts while the state’s appellate courts serve all four districts.
The two appellate courts in Hawaii are the Supreme Court and the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA). The Hawaii Supreme Court serves as a last resort for all appeal cases at the state level, and moderates all activities of the legal profession in Hawaii. The Intermediate Court of Appeals hears appeals from the state’s trial courts. Cases from the Intermediate Court of Appeals may also be transferred to the Supreme Court.
There are three classes of trial courts in Hawaii that hear civil cases. These are the Circuit courts, the District courts, and the Family courts. While Family courts hear all cases related to domestic relations, the state’s District and Circuit courts hear a wider range of civil cases.
The jurisdiction of Hawaii District Court includes the following types of cases:
- Civil cases involving amounts up to $40,000
- Small claims involving amounts not more than $5000
- Landlord-tenant petitions
- Traffic violations
- Appeals arising of vehicle registration matters
- State law violations
- County ordinance violations
There are a total of 10 District courts in all four judicial districts in Hawaii.
Although Circuit courts have a wider jurisdiction than District courts in Hawaii, they operate independently and may occasionally have concurrent jurisdiction over non-jury cases. Circuit courts have exclusive jurisdiction over:
- Civil cases exceeding $40,000 in value
- Probate cases
There are four Circuit courts in Hawaii with one in each judicial district.
What’s Included in a Civil Court Record?
The type of civil lawsuit determines the contents of a civil court record. A typical civil court record includes the following documents
- Summons and service papers
- Injunctions and orders
- Names of the parties and attorneys involved
- Court transcripts
- Final judgements
- Executed warrant of sentence;
- Copies of receipts of paid court fees
Obtaining Civil Court Records
- How Do I Access Hawaii Civil Court Records in Person?
Hawaii civil courts records are accessible to the general public. To request them in person, visit the courthouse, where the case of interest was heard, during business hours. To retrieve records, court officials require details like the full names of the parties involved, case ID numbers, and current case statuses (whether closed or open). Requesters will be required to complete and submit application forms at the clerk’s offices at Hawaii courthouses. Court clerks charge nominal fees for requested copies of court records.
- How Do I Find Hawaii Civil Court Records by Mail?
Similarly, Hawaii civil court records may be accessed by sending mail requests to courthouses. To submit a request for these records by mail, find the required request form on the Hawaii state judiciary website and follow provided instructions to complete and submit it.
- How to Find Hawaii Civil Court Records Online
Hawaii Judiciary also provides access to civil court records online via the eCourt Kokua portal. Members of the public can view and download available court records from this portal. They can serve for such records by providing the full names of the party (or parties) involved and/or case ID numbers.
Additionally, publicly available records are 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.
Are all Hawaii Civil Court Records Public?
Hawaii makes most civil court records available to the public. This upholds the obligations of the Hawaii state judiciary to ensure transparency and fairness and uphold the rights of the public to access official records. However, certain civil court records are confidential and not available to the public. These include:
- Complete records of active cases still pending in court;
- Social security numbers, and other sensitive financial records, of parties involved
- Names of jurors determining jury trials
- Mental health evaluation reports and addiction records
- Identities of minors
Can I Access Sealed Civil Court Records?
Judges in Hawaii may seal civil court records by issuing court orders. A state or federal statute may also mandate sealing certain court records. Sealed court records are not available to the general public. Only individuals involved in such cases and their legal representatives may access sealed court records. Authorized persons, such as court staff, may also be able to access sealed records. A third party seeking to view sealed civil court records must present a valid court order authorizing access to those records.
Are Probate Records Open to the Public?
Probate court records in Hawaii refer to legal documents related to adoption, parentage, and estate matters. These include wills, guardianship documents, and records listing heirs and executors. Probate records from 1822 - 1962 are publicly accessible for viewing at the State of Hawaii Department of Accounting and General Services in microfilm form. Original copies are available only at Circuit courthouses where the records were created. Probate records may be written in English or Hawaiian. Guardianship and adoption records are accessible only to persons named in those records.
Are Hawaii Civil Court Transcripts Open to the Public?
Trial transcripts are recordings of events that occured and statements made during court proceedings. Transcripts can be in written, audio, or video format. Transcripts are a useful piece of evidence in appeal cases. In Hawaii, trial transcripts are open to the general public, but are processed only upon request. To request the transcript of a civil court case in Hawaii, fill out a request form and submit it at the courthouse where the case was heard. The court reporter will then processes the request at a fee which varies depending on the format requested.