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The following is for informational purposes only

Iowa Court System

Iowa Court System

Iowa’s Court System is structured similar to other states with a Supreme Court, then a Court of Appeals and the District Courts as the trial courts for the state. All cases in Iowa begin in District Court. If a decision made is opposed by the losing party, they have the option of having it appealed at either the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court level.

The Supreme Court assigns all cases sent to the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court is the “court of last resort” and the highest court in the state. All other courts in the state must abide by laws determined by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is the only entity who can allow attorneys to serve as judges in the court system. They are also the only section of government that can supervise and discipline attorneys. The main office of the Supreme Court where regular sessions are held, is located in Des Moines.

The state also separates Juvenile Court from regular trial courts to focus on matters that pertain to minors. Some things that Juvenile Court handles are child abuse and neglect, juvenile delinquency, and parental rights.

Supreme Court
Court of Appeals
District Court

Iowa Court Records That are not Open to the Public

Most court records in Iowa will be available to the general public except for juvenile and confidential case information. Files that have been sealed or expunged will not be available. The state of Iowa offers an online portal where individuals can search for cases and court records. All trial cases after 1998 will be available online and most appellate cases after 1998. Patrons can also visit court clerks in person to obtain copies of public court records. Federal law prohibits personal information from being released to the public. Therefore, things like social security numbers, bank accounts, and home addresses must be redacted before the files can be made public.

Filing Information

Filing Information

Although anyone can visit a courthouse in Iowa to file paperwork for their case, the state also allows free e-filing as an option. Users must first register for an account, and then they can use the system. Their e-filing service allows individuals to check the status of their case and filings, review the filings by the other parties and it alerts users with notifications from the court. The Iowa Judiciary website also has downloadable forms to be used in place of electronic filing. In some cases, e-filing is mandatory, and the details of that can be reviewed on the Iowa Judicial Branch website.

Search Iowa Court Records Online

Use Infotracer to quickly search for Iowa court records all over the state, including Polk County, Linn County, and Scott County. The Infotracer system allows access to hundreds of court cases and records in Iowa, including criminal court records, bankruptcies, civil cases, family court records, and more! Public court records are protected by the Freedom of Information Act and the Iowa Open Records Law Iowa Code §22.1 et seq.

A court records search may be conducted by anyone privately without the need for permission or special information. The searcher doesn’t even need a reason to look up Iowa court records. All court records, except for those sealed by law, like juvenile records, will be readily available online.

You can get free instant access to Iowa court records using the Infotracer system, and an Iowa state court records search by name. Find district court records, supreme court cases, and appellate court records throughout the state.

Iowa Court Statistics

In 2012, the Iowa courts received 863,220 filings. In 2016, the number of filings decreased by 18.0% and counted 707,501 filings and had 705,308 outgoing cases

Total State Caseloads

Year Total Caseload
2012 863,220
2013 810,002
2014 763,869
2015 703,314
2016 707,501

Share of Court Type Incoming Caseloads

Court Type Incoming Caseloads
Civil 17%
Criminal 17%
Domestic Relations 5%
Traffic 61%

Family Court Cases

Domestic relations caseload of Iowa at year end of 2016 has decreased by 8.8% compared to the last 5 years, in 2012 the number of incoming cases have been 37,508 but are higher than in 2015.

Year Domestic Relations Caseload Total Statewide Caseload
2012 37,508 863,220
2013 36,202 810,002
2014 35,564 763,869
2015 34,009 703,314
2016 34,221 707,501

Iowa Criminal Caseloads

The number of criminal cases in Iowa courts counts to 122,430, with 19,661 felony cases and 102,769 misdemeanors accordingly.

Year Criminal Caseload Misdemeanor Caseload Felony Caseload
2012 135,802 117,305 18,497
2013 129,804 110,801 19,003
2014 123,853 105,366 18,487
2015 121,835 103,067 18,768
2016 122,430 102,769 19,661

District Courts

The District Courts in Iowa are the original jurisdiction trial courts for the state. Nearly all legal matters originate here. Each county has its own District Court. Additionally, the state is divided into eight judicial districts for administration, and one Chief Judge heads each district for administrative purposes. District Courts handle civil matters, criminal offenses, probate cases, juvenile issues, family and domestic issues as well as small claims and civil suits. Iowa uses a unified court system established in 1973 in its Constitution. Before that, they had hundreds of justices of the peace courts, mayor’s courts, municipal courts, and police courts.

Iowa Court Records Search