Iowa puts court records online

Iowa's court system went to the Web at the end of January, and for the first time the state's judiciary system is providing online public access to basic court information from all of the state's 99 counties and its appellate courts.

The site (www.iowacourtsonline.org) provides basic information on such things as child support payment histories, criminal and traffic records, and the disposition of cases that have come before the courts. Later this year, a $25 monthly subscription service will be introduced. Users will be able to get more detailed information, including trial and hearing dates, and judgment liens.

The system is expected to cost about $300,000 a year to operate, paid for entirely by the $25 subscription charge, according to Rebecca Colton, executive assistant to Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Louis Lavorato. The fee is expected to get smaller as the number of subscribers increases.

"We brought all of this online at once because we've already had our court dockets computerized for many years, so this was just a case of creating the link," Colton said. "Previously, people could get to these computer records only by coming to one of the court offices and viewing that court's records onsite."

The online records don't show the full text of the document. For that, users will still have to contact the court where the document is held or go there in person, Colton said. Also, users will only be able to get information about specific cases, she said. Broad subject searches will not be possible.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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