Delaware Court Records
How do Delaware Courts work?
The Supreme Court acts as the highest legal authority in the state of Delaware. This allows it to reside over the Court of Appeals, weighing in on any important questions, conflicts, or legal debates. The Court of Appeals, in turn, carries out a similar function, overseeing the lower courts when one party decides to contest a decision. These lower courts are made up of the three superior or trial courts across the three counties within Delaware. Other tiers of court in the state include, the Justice of the Peace Court, the Court of Common Pleas, Family Court, Court of Chancery, and the Administrative Office of the Courts.
Civil Cases and Small Claims
There are some key differences between the cases dealt with by the civil court and small claims court in Delaware. For example, the civil court deals with cases in which the petitioner in question is seeking more than a $200,000 claim. There are close to 200,000 of these claims each year across the state. However, they can also include non-monetary claims, for example, disputes over property, name changes, and restraining orders. On the other hand, the small claims court, unsurprisingly, deals with smaller claims of $15,000 or under. These are not represented by counsel, and there are close to 200,000 each year across Delaware. These cases can include disputes over warranties, deposits, loans, repairs, and more. The small claims court also has the power to order the defendant into an action, such as paying a fee.
Appeals and court limits
There are also a number of key differences between the relevant appeals processes and the court limits in civil court and small claims court. For example, pretrial discovery is permitted in civil cases, but not in small claims cases. A person is also allowed to have a lawyer represent them and file papers on their behalf in civil court, but neither are allowed in small claims cases. In civil court, either party can appeal the ultimate decision made, whereas, in small claims court, only the defendant can contest. Small claims have a filing fee of between $30 and $100, and each party is then given 30-70 days to complete their case. On the other hand, civil cases cost between $180 and $320 per claim, and the parties are then given up to 120 days to complete their cases.
Why are court records public?
The Delaware Freedom of Information Act was passed back in 1977, with the most recent amendments coming in 2009. The act ensures that all members of the public in the state have the right to access all public records. Any record held by the local or state government can be accessed and copied. This promotes a sense of transparency and helps safeguard government accountability.
To access records:
The Renaissance Centre
405 North King Street, Suite 509
Wilmington, DE 19801
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Phone: (302) 651-3960
Fax: (302) 651-3961