Although court transcripts are generally a matter of public record, judges have the authority to seal certain aspects, or all, of a case. Juvenile court proceedings, closed family relation’s matters, and youthful offender cases are automatically sealed. In these cases, you will need to obtain a written order from the court to proceed.
High-profile court case transcripts can usually be found free doing an online search. Federal district and bankruptcy court transcripts are available online and can be downloaded and printed at a cost of 8 cents per page. Local and state transcripts will require an official written request and have various fees associated with them.
To find a federal district or bankruptcy court transcript, visit the website Pacer.gov. If you know the district or circuit in which the case was filed, follow the prompting to locate that particular court and begin your case search. If you do not know which court the case was filed, use the case locator link to find the court.
Many states now provide online access to official court documents. Locate the state court the case was filed in and perform a public information search. Once you have located the case, follow the instructions to obtain a copy of the transcript. You may be able to print the information directly from your computer, or you may have to complete and submit a request form. Each court charges a fee, which will be disclosed on the website.
To request a copy of a court transcript directly from the court, you will need to provide a signed, written request to the court where the hearing took place. Include the docket number, case caption, name of the presiding judge, and the date(s) and location of the hearing. The court clerk can help you gather the information prior to submitting your request. You will also need to contact the clerk to determine the fees associated with your request, and the payment options. Some courts will not accept personal checks, or credit card or debit card payments.
If you were involved in the case, contact your attorney. In many cases, the attorney will have the transcript on file, or be able to obtain it on your behalf.
Check with the court to determine if you qualify to have the fees waived.