Oklahoma Court Records
Instant Access to State, County and Municipal Public Records
Are Oklahoma Court Records Public?
In 1984, the Oklahoma Open Records Act was passed and was later amended in 1988. This law authorizes anyone interested in obtaining court records and other public records to request and be granted access to public records without any statement of purpose. Note that despite the law, not all court records may be accessed by the general public. The law specifically makes provisions for the exemption of confidential records and other records that are protected statutorily. Hence, requesting parties may not access exempted court records, except if authorized by a court order or a state law.
How Do I Find Court Records in Oklahoma?
The first step to take when trying to obtain court records in Oregon is to identify the requested records’ custodian. Under the court system, the court clerks are the assigned record custodians of the courts where they operate. They perform the duty of generating, maintaining, and responding to official court records requests. Hence, all queries for court records should be directed to the court clerk’s office court where the case was filed. Find the contact information, location, and website of the court of interest by searching the Oklahoma courts website.
Oklahoma courts accept court record requests in-person and via its online search portal. However, not all courts have online search portals where interested persons can access court records, but for courts that allow online requests, their online search portals are fixed on the court’s website. The search criteria for accessing these records include the party’s full name or their case number. Oklahoma also offers online access for court dockets and legal research for most county courts and all Oklahoma appellate courts.
For in-person requests, requestors may draft request applications in writing or complete the request form (if available) and submit them in-person at the court clerk’s office. It is necessary to indicate the requested court records and the number of copies required if copies will be made.
Considered open to citizens of the United States, public records are available through traditional government sources and 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. 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, parishes, and states.
While third-party sites offer such services, they are not government-sponsored entities, and record availability may vary on these sites compared to government sources.
How Do Oklahoma Courts Work?
The Oklahoma court system comprises the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals, the Court of Civil Appeals, District Courts, and Courts of limited jurisdiction. Oklahoma has two courts of last resort, namely the Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals. The Oklahoma Supreme Court and Court of Civil Appeals preside over all appeals for civil matters, with the Supreme Court having the final word on civil appeals in the state. The Supreme Court also hears challenges to state laws and changes to the constitution. On the other hand, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals decides all appeals for criminal matters on these appeals.
Oklahoma District Courts are represented in each of the state’s 77 counties and organized into 26 judicial districts. These courts hear a wide range of criminal and civil cases. Oklahoma also has Courts of limited jurisdiction, including the Workers’ Compensation Court of Existing Claims, the Court of Tax Review, the Court on the Judiciary, and Municipal Courts. These courts of limited jurisdiction are restricted to only specific cases. For instance, the Municipal Courts are specifically responsible for issuing and city citations and traffic tickets.
The governor of Oklahoma is solely responsible for appointing judges from a list of three candidates chosen by the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission. However, the responsibility of appointing judges is transferred to the chief justice if the governor fails to appoint one of the candidates within 60 days. The chief justice’s nomination must be certified by the Oklahoma Secretary of State. Appointed judges must be confirmed by a retention vote to serve in the next general election after they have served one year in the office. They serve either the remaining part of an unexpired term or a full six-year term if they are approved. Following this, judges may stand for retention every six years. Presently, nine justices are serving on the Oklahoma Supreme Court, and five justices are serving on the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. The Court of Civil Appeals has twelve judges divided into four panels, with three judges each.
What Are Civil Court and Small Claims in Oklahoma?
Small claims in Oklahoma refer to actions for retrieving money due to a breach of contract, for damage, or to recover private property, if the money involved is not more than $10,000. Oklahoma Small Claims Courts do not handle actions claiming libel or slander, but cases arising from evictions are permitted. Small claims are filed in the Oklahoma District Court, and the court clerk can assist in giving details on the process regarding small claims matters. Individuals may file small claims in Oklahoma with or without a lawyer. In Oklahoma, residents can file a small claim case in the county where any of the following occurs:
- The defendant lives in or works
- The claim for relief ensued
- The action or damage transpired
- The property subject to the claim is located, or
- In a collection case, any county the law permits, where the debt was incurred, or where some other instrument of indebtedness was given.
While a regular civil case can take more than one year before it comes to trial, small claims cases are statutorily heard not more than 60 days after the claim is filed. However, a defendant must be accurately presented with the legal action in small claims and regular civil lawsuits. If a plaintiff files a small claim legal action and cannot locate the defendant, it may take two to three months before the court renders the judgment.
Civil cases usually involve money disputes exceeding $10,000, but individuals can choose to file a case less than $10,000 in a civil court, although the costs are higher and it will take more time before judgment is rendered. A defendant has the right to assert claims against the plaintiff in the form of a counterclaim when a plaintiff files a small claims case. If the counterclaim is filed accurately and not less than 72 hours before the time set for the defendant’s appearance, then the judge will try the counterclaim together with the original claim and give judgment in both. A small claim action may be settled before or after a trial. If this happens, the parties should inform the judge that the case has been resolved between parties.
What Are Appeals and Court Limits in Oklahoma?
Appeals involve an individual filing a petition to review a lower court’s rulings in any of Oklahoma’s appellate courts. Oklahoma has three appellate courts instead of the regular two appellate courts present in most states. The appellate courts in Oklahoma include the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals, and the Court of Civil Appeals, which preside over appeals within their jurisdiction. An appellant has 30 days from the date the challenged order was filed with the District Court Clerk to file the petition in error. An appellant must also ensure an accurate and comprehensive record is presented. The court clerk helps compile the record and the time limit for finalizing the record is six months from the date of the entry of the order under appeal.
After the record is finalized, the appellant has 60 days to file its brief. This is the appellant’s opportunity to point out to the appellate court the mistakes that warrant the reversal. After the filing of the brief in chief is filed, the appellee must respond within 40 days, and after the response, the appellant has 20 days to answer to the appellee’s response. The reply brief is the final brief filed on appeal. Most times, once the briefing is complete, the Oklahoma Supreme Court will assign the case to an Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals division.
Visit the Oklahoma appellate Courts for details on the appellate procedure for criminal appeals in the state.
What Are Oklahoma Judgment Records?
Oklahoma judgment records are court documents containing information about a court's determination of a matter filed in its jurisdiction. In most cases, the judgment is an adjudication of an individual's legal rights, the appropriate remedy for infringing on those rights, or the penalties for violating state laws.
Judgments become legally binding when the court clerk enters the record into the court's docket. This action also makes the judgment record a public document per the Oklahoma Open Records Act. Persons who wish to obtain judgment records in Oklahoma must possess the necessary case identifying details, including the case number and the litigants' names. Also, the individual will be required to cover the labor cost of retrieving the documents and making copies of the judgment record sought.
Armed with these details, visit the clerk's office in person during regular work hours and submit a request to obtain copies of the judgment record. Most courts have standard request forms for this purpose. The court administrative staff uses the information provided to search the court archives for the case records and retrieve the judgment record. Then, the staff will furnish the requester with photocopies of the document unless the individual requested certified copies.
What are Oklahoma Bankruptcy Records?
Oklahoma Bankruptcy Records contain details of bankruptcy cases filed in Oklahoma. These records are freely accessible by members of the public. Bankruptcy records for Oklahoma can be viewed by contacting the court in charge of the information. Records may also be available on the Public Access to Electronic Records(PACER) system. Individuals or organizations filing for bankruptcy often engage the services of an experienced bankruptcy attorney, as the filing process can sometimes be complex.
Bankruptcy records, Oklahoma liens, and associated recordings, including judgments, writs, and foreclosures, are made available to interested and eligible persons on request. However, requestors are typically required to provide the information needed to facilitate record searches and pay a nominal fee to cover the cost of research and photocopies (if required).
How Do I Find My Case Number in Oklahoma?
Case numbers are specially assigned alphanumeric codes that reveal specific details regarding a particular court case, including the judicial office where it was filed, and the year a case was filed. Every case has a unique set of numbers assigned to it. Therefore no two cases have the same case numbers. A case number also eases the process of storing and accessing case information. This is because case numbers make it easy to reference civil and criminal cases in Oklahoma courts distinctly. Consequently, it saves time that will have been spent scanning through numerous search results that are generated during a name search.
Interested persons can find case numbers by performing a search on the court’s case search portal with the party’s name or company name of one of the parties to the case. The party’s last name, first name, or company name are the search criteria required during a search. Optional data may also be provided during the search if available.
Residents can also send queries to the court clerk’s office where the case was filed to find their case numbers at the courthouse. Note that the court clerk may demand certain details on the case that was filed to facilitate the search for the case number.
Can You Look up Court Cases in Oklahoma?
Anyone can look up court cases on the Oklahoma State Courts Network (OSCN). This portal provides access to court case records of courts in Oklahoma. However, this portal does not provide access to court case records that are sealed from public view or case dockets that are considered confidential. Individuals can also visit the court clerk where a case is filed to look up court case records.
Does Oklahoma Hold Remote Trials?
State courts across Oklahoma are authorized to hold trials with videoconferencing, hence substituting physical court appearances for remote hearings. This is because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal courts in Oklahoma provided instructions for implementing videoconferencing for various types of proceedings. In the Northern District of Oklahoma, legal proceedings may be conducted via videoconferencing for the following:
- Initial appearances
- Detention hearings
- Waivers of indictment
- Preliminary hearings, probation, and supervised release revocation proceedings
- Pretrial release revocation proceedings
- Misdemeanor pleas and sentencings, and other proceedings
The Western District of Oklahoma also issued a similar order.
What Is the Oklahoma Supreme Court?
The Supreme Court of Oklahoma is the court of last resort on appeal for civil cases on the state’s constitution; however, it does not have jurisdiction over appeals for criminal cases. It is one of the two highest judicial bodies in Oklahoma and oversees the judiciary of the state. The Oklahoma Supreme Court hears civil appeals from the state’s trial courts, and all lower courts, except the Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary, and the Oklahoma Senate, when that body is sitting as a Court of Impeachment. Oklahoma Supreme Court is quite different from the Supreme Court in other states as it only has partial appeal jurisdiction.
According to Section 4 of Article VII of the Oklahoma Constitution, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma jurisdiction applies to all law and equity cases, excluding criminal cases. The Oklahoma Supreme Court is authorized to define the jurisdiction of each court if there is a conflict in determining whether the state’s Supreme Court or the Court of Criminal Appeals has jurisdiction in a case.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court can temporarily reassign judges and appoint an administrative director and staff. The director functions under the state court’s authority to assist the chief justice in his administrative duties. The court has the power to issue, hear and preside over writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, certiorari, quo warranto, prohibition, and other alternative writs provided in the statute.
Furthermore, the Oklahoma Supreme Court is responsible for supervising the state’s judicial system, formulating rules of operation for the state’s other courts, and the rules for law practice. The rules for the practice of law govern the conduct of attorneys and instill discipline when necessary.
Oklahoma Criminal Court of Appeals
Oklahoma Criminal Court of Appeals is the state's last resort court as regards criminal cases. It presides over criminal cases originating from the District Courts and the Municipal Courts of record, including death penalty cases. Appeals from the Oklahoma Criminal Court of Appeals go to the United States Supreme Court.
Oklahoma Civil Court of Appeals
Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals is the intermediate appellate court on civil matters in the state of Oklahoma. Appeal cases are heard by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the state’s highest court for civil matters, which assigns cases to the Court of Civil Appeals. Judgments from the state’s Court of Civil Appeals may be further appealed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Oklahoma District Courts
Oklahoma District Courts are also referred to as the courts of general jurisdiction, which hear most civil and criminal cases. District Court appeals of civil matters are directed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court for review, while District Courts’ appeals on criminal matters go to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. Some of these cases include small claims, domestic relations, traffic violations, juvenile violations, adoption, probate, and guardianship cases.
Oklahoma District Courts are divided into 26 districts, and they include:
- District 1 - Beaver, Cimarron, Harper, and Texas
- District 2 - Beckham, Custer, Ellis, Roger Mills, and Washita
- District 3 - Greer, Harmon, Jackson, Kiowa, and Tillman
- District 4 - Alfalfa, Blaine, Dewey, Garfield, Grant, Kingfisher, Major, Woods, and Woodward
- District 5 - Comanche, Cotton, Jefferson, and Stephens
- District 6 - Caddo and Grady
- District 7 - Oklahoma
- District 8 - Kay and Noble
- District 9 - Logan and Payne
- District 10 - Osage
- District 11 - Nowata and Washington
- District 12 - Craig, Mayes, and Rogers
- District 13 - Delaware and Ottawa
- District 14 - Tulsa and Pawnee
- District 15 - Adair, Cherokee, Muskogee, Sequoyah, and Wagoner
- District 16 - Haskell, Latimer, and Le Flore
- District 17 - Choctaw, McCurtain, and Pushmataha
- District 18 - Mcintosh and Pittsburg
- District 19 - Bryan
- District 20 - Carter, Johnston, Love, Marshall, and Murray
- District 21 - Cleveland, Garvin, and Mcclain
- District 22 - Hughes, Pontotoc, and Seminole
- District 23 - Lincoln and Pottawatomie
- District 24 - Creek, Okfuskee, and Okmulgee
- District 25 - Atoka and Coal
- District 26 - Canadian
Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Court of Existing Claims
The Workers’ Compensation Court of Existing Claims is a court of record, which presides over claims for compensation, the liability of insurers, and any rights stated by the Workers’ Compensation Act. The Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Court of Existing Claims was created as a temporary replacement of the Workers’ Compensation Court to hear cases that occured before February 1, 2014. It was dissolved by SB1062, codified in 85A O.S. Title 85A. A new Workers’ Compensation Commission was created as an administrative agency responsible for handling workers’ compensation claims arising on or after February 1, 2014.
It is a limited jurisdiction court of justice that handles cases involving injuries that occur while an employee is working within the scope of employment. The court is composed of ten judges appointed by the governor, with the State Senate’s direction and approval. These appointments are made from a list of nominees presented by a Judicial Nominating Commission. The terms that the judges serve are not fixed, and they may be removed for cause by the Court on the Judiciary. The State Constitution details the grounds for removal. The governor appoints the presiding judge among the court’s judges to serve a two-year term. The presiding judge is responsible for the functioning of the court.
If an individual is not satisfied with the judge’s ruling, such individual may request a hearing en banc, and appeals from such a hearing are filed at the Oklahoma Supreme Court. There are two locations of the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Court of Existing Claims, including Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
Oklahoma Court of Tax Review
The Oklahoma Court of Tax Review is a court of limited jurisdiction where the Oklahoma judiciary resolves disputes involving county and city governments’ illegal taxes. All tax review cases are directed to the Chief Justice of Oklahoma, who directs the claim to the presiding judge of the administrative district where the claim arose. The presiding judge then appoints three judges to preside over the case. The Oklahoma Supreme Court handles appeals from this court.
Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary
Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary is one of the two independent courts under the Oklahoma judiciary system. It has exclusive jurisdiction in presiding over cases relating to the discipline and removal of a judge from office. A judge may be removed from office if adjudicated guilty of corruption in office, habitual drunkenness, gross neglect of duty, gross partiality in office, oppression in office, or other grounds as determined by the legislature. However, this authority does not extend to the discipline of Supreme Court justices.
The Court on the Judiciary is made up of a nine-member Trial Division and a five-member Appellate Division. The court’s jurisdiction may be activated by the Governor, Attorney General, Oklahoma Supreme Court, the Oklahoma Bar Association, or the House of Representatives. All residents can file a formal complaint against a judge to be heard by the Oklahoma Council of Judicial Complaints. The Trial Division hears cases filed in the court, and if there is a need for an appeal, it is heard by the Appellate Divisions. The Appellate Divisions is the last resort court on matters relating to judicial complaints, and even the Oklahoma Supreme Court can not change the court’s decisions.
Oklahoma Municipal Courts
There are two types of Municipal Courts in Oklahoma, classified as courts of records and courts of no record. The Municipal Courts in Oklahoma City and the Municipal Court of Tulsa are courts of records, while all other Municipal Courts in Oklahoma are courts of no record. The Municipal Courts of no record operate under the Supreme Court's administration but are not part of the state court system. The courts’ judges are appointed directly by the mayors of Oklahoma’s cities. Oklahoma Municipal Courts are established to oversee the administration of justice within cities. These courts can only preside over criminal violations of city ordinances; they do not have civil jurisdiction. District Courts hear appeals from Municipal Courts.