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What are Civil Court Records

Civil court records are details of court proceedings that are tried under the Civil Law legal system. These cases include disputes between individuals or parties bordered on property issues, injury charges, family, business, contract, intellectual properties, physical damages, etc. The State of Delaware provides records of non-confidential civil court proceedings and judgments in keeping with the Delaware Code. These records are available to the general public and can be accessed on-demand.

Understanding The Delaware Civil Court System

The Delaware court system is structured in a hierarchical order based on jurisdiction. The system comprises the Justice of the Peace Court, the Court of Common Pleas, Family Court, Superior Court, Court of Chancery and the Supreme Court.  Apart from these, there are other judicial agencies such as the Alderman’s Courts, that preside over certain cases.

The Supreme Court

Sitting at the highest rung of the ladder is the Supreme Court, which is established by law as the highest judicial body in the state. Cases are not filed directly to the Supreme Court. On the contrary, it only receives appeals from the Family Court, the Court of Chancery, and the Superior Court.

These appeals are without the limitations of jurisdiction, and also includes all forms of civil cases. This court can award any monetary damage, and its judgment is final. The Chief Justice and four other Justices are saddled with the responsibility of its operation.

The Superior Court

The Superior Court has exclusive jurisdiction over all instances of felony and most cases of drug abuse. It also has general jurisdiction over other types of lawsuits, including civil cases. Due to its elevated position in the Delaware judiciary structure, the court is at liberty to award damages as it deems fit without being subject to any monetary maximum. Although cases can be filed directly to the Superior Court, it also presides over appeals made from any of the authorized lower courts. Likewise, appeals from this court can be sent directly to the Supreme Court, which is the only court above it. The highest judicial officer in this court is the President Judge, who is assisted by other judges appointed under the Constitution of Delaware, Article IV, Section 2.

The Family Court

The Family Court is a court of limited jurisdiction in civil cases bordered around only family and juvenile lawsuits. Suits can be filed directly to this court. In some instances, the court receives its cases as appeals from the Justice of the Peace Courts and the Alderman’s Courts. Rulings on civil cases in this court can be appealed directly to the Supreme Court. But criminal cases can only be appealed to the Superior Court. This court has no juries. As such, all cases are decided by the Chief Judge and the other Judges, as the case may be. Their appoints, and the authorization of the court has a legal footing in Section 1 and 2, Article IV of the Constitution of Delaware.

The Court of Chancery

The Court of Chancery is what can be referred to as the only Court in Delaware that has the jurisdiction to hear cases on equity. Despite being a core business court, this court hears, on very rare occasions, civil cases concerning money damages. There are no jury trials in the Court of Chancery. This court does not receive appeals from any other court, but its decision can be appealed to the Supreme Court. The Chancellor and Vice-Chancellors are the highest judicial officers in the Court of Chancery. As expected, they are all appointed by the state governor as stipulated by Section 3, Article IV of the Constitution of Delaware.

The Court Of Common Pleas

The Court of Common Pleas is directly above the Justice of the Peace Court and the Alderman’s Court. In civil cases, its jurisdiction is bound to cases where the amount under dispute is $75,000 or less. The court was established by the Delaware Code in 1973. In 2005, it was upgraded to a Constitutional Court in keeping to the State of Delaware Constitution, Section 7B of Article IV. The Chief Judge or other judges of this court presides over the cases within the jurisdiction of this court.

Alderman’s Courts

The Alderman’s courts are local courts set up within some counties in Delaware. Precisely, there are six Alderman’s courts in the state of Delaware, and they are in Sussex and New Castle Counties. The Alderman’s courts in Sussex are located in Newark and Newport, while those in New Castle are in Bethany Beach, Laurel, Dewey Beach, and Rehoboth Beach. All six courts have their legal authorization from the town charters in their respective municipalities. Consequently, their jurisdiction is limited to the town.

The court presides over minor civil cases within the town such as traffic and parking offenses, alcohol abuse, building code violations, animal abuse, as well as various forms of disorderly conduct. Upon ruling, appeals to judgments in any of these courts can be made to the Court of Common Pleas.

The Alderman, who serves as the judge in this court, is nominated by the state governor and approved by the senate. But the courts are headed by the respective Clerk of the Court. There are also no jury trials in these courts.

The Justice Of The Peace Court

Hierarchically, the Justice of the Peace Court sits at the base of the Delaware judiciary pyramid. It shares the same position with the Alderman’s Courts. The operation of the Justice of the Peace Court is authorized in Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution of the State of Delaware.

This court sits over certain civil and criminal cases. However, its jurisdiction is only over cases where the disputed amount does not exceed $15,000. All appeals, with the exception of juvenile delinquency, are directed to the Court of Common Pleas. Juvenile cases are further referred to the Family Court. The court is presided over by the Chief Magistrate of the Justice of the Peace Court or the deputy.

What is Included in a Civil Court Record

A civil court record in Delaware contains the following:

  • Case ID 
  • Case parties which include the names of the litigants involved
  • Address of the case parties
  • Attorneys of the case parties and their addresses
  • The name as well as the address of the judge who presided over the case
  • The type of case, e.g. debt, traffic violation, speed case, personal injury, abandoned property, e.t.c.
  • The date when the case was filed
  • Summons issued, the dates, and to whom
  • The judgment status and judgment date of the case 

Obtaining Delaware Civil Court Records

In the State of Delaware, civil court records can be accessed online, via mail, or in person.

How to Obtain Civil Court Records in Person

An applicant can request to receive a Civil Court record in person. He/She would have to visit the corresponding court and fill out a form to make an official request. The forms differ according to the court involved. 

For Justice of the Peace Court

Applicants will be required to fill out a request form, providing the following details:

  • Name, address, and telephone of applicant
  • Names of litigants and approximate date of the case, if possible
  • Case ID and Justice of the Peace Court number, if possible
  • Type of record: disposition record ($7), certified civil copy ($10), civil docket ($0.25 per page), media package ($0.25 per page), audio recording CD ($25), or others.

Upon completion, the application should be sent to any of the following addresses, depending on where the case was tried:

1. Sussex County - Justice of the Peace Court 17

23730 Shortly Road

Georgetown, DE 19947

Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00am - 4:00pm

Phone Number: 302–856–1447

Fax Number: 302–856–4654

Generic Court e-mailbox: JPCourt17@delaware.gov

2. New Castle County - Justice of the Peace Court 9

757 North Broad Street

Middletown Square Shopping Center

Middletown, DE 19709

Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00am - 4:00pm

Phone Number: 302–378–5221

Fax Number: 302–378–5220

Generic Court e-mailbox: JPCourt09@delaware.gov

3. New Castle County - Justice of the Peace Court 13

Concord Professional Building

1010 Concord Ave

Wilmington, DE 19802

Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00am - 4:00pm

Phone Number: 302–577–2550

Fax Number: 302–577–2526

Generic Court e-mailbox: JPCourt13@delaware.gov

4. Kent County - Justice of the Peace Court 16

414 Federal Street

Room 173

Dover, DE 19901

Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00 am - 4:00 pm

Phone Number: 302–739–4316

Fax Number: 302–674–7111

Generic Court e-mailbox: JPCourt16@delaware.gov

For Superior Court

Requests must be accompanied by a completed form, which contains the following details:

  • Name, address and the phone number of the applicant
  • Names of litigants and approximate date of the case
  • Type of record (disposition, certified copy, other)
  • Requested delivery date
  • Applicant’s signature

Upon completion, the form should be delivered to any of the following addresses depending on where the case was tried:

1. New Castle County - Superior Court

Leonard L. Williams Justice Center

(formerly New Castle County Courthouse)

500 North King Street

Wilmington, DE 19801

Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30am - 4:30pm

Phone Number: 302–255–0800

2. Kent County - Superior Court

414 Federal Street

Dover, DE 19901

Mailing Address:

38 The Green

Dover, DE 19901

Hours: Monday-Friday 8:15 am - 4:30 pm

Phone Number: 302–735–1900

TDD Number: 302–739–1587

Fax Number: 302–739–6717

3. Sussex County - Superior Court

1 The Circle, Suite 2

Georgetown, DE 19947

Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Phone Number: 302–855–7055

Fax Number: 302–856–5739

TDD Number: 302–856–5895

For Family Court

Attorneys or any of the parties involved in a civil case may request copies of the audio record of a case they are involved in. To obtain this, the applicant will fill out this form. It contains the following details:

  • Name and address of the applicant
  • File number
  • Names of petitioners and respondents
  • Petition number 
  • Date and time of the hearing
  • Address of the family court

The application cost $25 and should be submitted to any of the following addresses depending on where the case was tried:

1. New Castle County - Family Court

Leonard L. Williams Justice Center

(formerly New Castle County Courthouse)

500 North King Street

Wilmington, DE 19801

Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30am - 4:30pm

Telephone Number: 302–255–0300

2. Kent County - Family Court

400 Court Street

Dover, DE 19901

Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Telephone Number: 302–672–1000

3. Sussex County - Family Court

22 The Circle

Georgetown, DE 19947

Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Telephone Number: 302–855–7400

Publicly available records may also be 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 Delaware Civil Court Records Public?

No, not all Delaware Civil Court Records are open to the public. Some records such as sealed civil court records and expunged court records cannot be accessed by the public. 

What Records Are Automatically Sealed By Delaware Statute

According to Superior Court Rule of Civil Procedure 5(g)(2), a case can only be sealed after a formal application has been filed and reviewed by the State or any party in a case. This is a statute that the lower courts hold unto. Notwithstanding, the following details are automatically sealed by the various courts of Delaware

  • State Juvenile FireSetter Intervention Program records
  • Records controlled by statute or common law
  • Medical records of litigants
  • Driver’s license records of litigants
  • Criminal history records of litigants
  • HIV/AIDS status of the litigants
  • Victim and witness information
  • Jury panel information
  • Security records

Can I Access Sealed Civil Court Records

According to the Policies on Public Access to Judicial Records from the diverse courts in the State of Delaware, sealed records cannot be accessed by the general public. This includes all cases, whole files or portions of files that were sealed to the eyes of the public based on court orders, or decisions by an appropriate court.

Are Juvenile Civil Records Open to the Public?

Yes, in compliance with Title 10, Chapter 9, Section 1063 of the Delaware Code, all proceedings and court records that involve a juvenile, including the name and address of the child and parent, are available to the general public. 

Are Trial Transcripts Open to the Public?

Members of the public can request for, and access certified verbatim trial transcripts of civil cases heard in Delaware courts. This particular type of record is available at the Court Reporters Office of the court involved. To access a trial transcript, the requestor would make a formal request through mail, phone call or in person. Depending on the court, transcripts may be available for collection on the same day of request or may take as much as ten working days. Each request has a fee, which also varies according to the court and the type of delivery you choose.

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