According to court rules, the Judicial System is structured like a pyramid with the Supreme Court at the top and the Justice of the Peace Court at the bottom. Legal issues at the bottom section of the pyramid are generally less complicated and less costly. Conversely, legal issues that climb the pyramid become more expensive and more involved.
The DE Courts mission statement is: “The Judicial Branch is a co-equal, independent branch of government entrusted with the fair, just and efficient resolution of disputes under the rules of law and equity, and with the protection of all rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitutions of the State of Delaware and the United States.”
All the pieces of the state's judicial system are supported and managed by the Administrative Office of the Courts which includes the Judicial Information Center and the Office of the State Court Collections Enforcement. Each of these upholds the policies and goals devised by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Although many court records are available to the general public, this state has quite a few exceptions. Some of the things that are not open to the public are personnel and independent contractor records, attorney billing records, proprietary and licensed information, trade secrets and competitive bidding files, security information, and guardianship information. These are only a few examples. The Delaware Judicial website (.gov) lists the details of every item disallowed in public records. Additionally, federal law prohibits some personal details in court dockets such as social security numbers, tax IDs, children’s names and banking information.
The Delaware Judiciary has a helpful website that offers two ways to file motions, briefs, objections, and other court-related paperwork. First, they have a section on their website with all forms that can be downloaded or printed. They are listed alphabetically. After filling them out, users can consult the list of courthouses on the website and visit in person to drop off their paperwork. The second option is to use Delaware’s e-filing system called eFlex. Their electronic filing system can be used with the Justice of the Peace Court, the Court of Common Pleas, the Supreme Court, the Court of Chancery and the Superior Court. Users must register and pay a fee to use this system.
Do you know someone in this state and want to check out their court records? Use Infotracer to gain access to hundreds of state records in Bucks County, Wilmington, DE County, Delaware County, New Castle County and everywhere else in the state! The DE Freedom of Information Act Title 29, Chapter 100 guarantees the public’s right to criminal records, civil records, and everything in between. No one even needs a reason or authorization to perform a public records search.
Quickly and easily find records from the court of chancery, the superior court, the state family court, the court of common pleas and Delaware’s justice of the peace court. Most court records, including divorces and bankruptcies, will be available, but some like juvenile court records may be sealed.
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In 2013, the Delaware courts received 532,150 filings. In 2015, the number of filings decreased by 7.8% and counted 490,506 filings and had 218,444 outgoing cases
Domestic relations caseload of Delaware at year end of 2015 has decreased by 4.9% compared to the last 3 years, in 2013 the number of incoming cases have been 37,507 but are higher than in 2014.
|Year||Domestic Relations Caseload||Total Statewide Caseload|
The number of criminal cases in Delaware courts counts to 12,910, with 12,910 felony cases.
|Year||Criminal Caseload||Misdemeanor Caseload||Felony Caseload|
The Court of Chancery is based on historical England’s common law proceedings. Delaware’s Court of Chancery’s focus is equity, and they resolve all corporate business matters and internal affairs disputes. The judges who preside are experts in business law. The types of cases that the Court of Chancery decide are trusts, estates, corporate matters involving the purchase and sale of land, other fiduciary matters and questions regarding the title of real estate. Basically, this court has jurisdiction over all commercial and contractual issues in the state. The Court of Chancery has one chancellor and six vice-chancellors. They are chosen by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. They serve 12-year terms.
The DE Superior Court are trial courts with original jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters except for equity cases and domestic relations matters. These courts also have exclusive jurisdiction over drug offenses and felonies except those that involve minors. Possession of marijuana charges are not tried in Superior Court. The Superior Court is also the intermediate appellate court for the Court of Common Pleas and Family Court. The Diamond State has Superior Court courthouses in three locations: Kent, Sussex, and New Castle. The Delaware Superior Court has been in existence for 175 years. This court prides itself on using state-of-the-art courtroom electronics in its facilities.
The state's Family Court does as its name suggests and handles all matters related to domestic relations. Family Court has exclusive jurisdiction over family matters. The types of cases dealt with by the Family court are child support, child abuse, dependency, child neglect, juvenile delinquency, crimes against children, paternity, custody, parental rights, visitation, annulment and divorce, adoptions, separations, guardianship of minors and protective orders for domestic abuse. The Family Court also holds misdemeanor jurisdiction over cases of offenses committed between former spouses or couples living together with or without children. Cases tried in Family Court are appealed to the Supreme Court except for adult criminal cases which go to the Superior Court. Family Court includes seventeen judges.
The Delaware Court of Common Pleas handles both criminal and civil cases. It has criminal jurisdiction for misdemeanors, including drug offenses for people over the age of 18, and motor vehicle offenses. Criminal defendants have the right to a jury trial in the Court of Common Pleas, but a judge handles all civil matters. DE Court of Common Pleas resolves civil matters where the amount is $50,000 or less. This court also handles name changes. Both the Justice of the Peace and Alderman’s Courts send their appeals to this court. Additionally, appeals from the administrative office of the DMV also go there. In 1998 the Court of Pleas Court merged with the Municipal Court and became one entity.
The Justice of the Peace Courts are courts of limited jurisdiction over civil cases that involve trespass, debt, and repayment in amounts of $15,000 or less. This court also has jurisdiction over landlord/tenant disputes. Justice of the Peace Courts also has limited jurisdiction to hear some types of misdemeanor cases along with most all motor vehicle cases (not felonies) and also acts as the Committing magistrates for all crimes. Appeals from this court go directly to the Court of Common Pleas in both civil and criminal cases except for landlord/tenant matters. Those must be appealed in this court with a panel of three judges. These courts are considered the “entry-level courts through which pass the great majority of all criminal cases.”