March 31, 2023, 6:29 pm
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General Information About Pennsylvania Court Records and Laws
Sometimes the information that you need can only be found by searching Pennsylvania court records. That is why it is important that you know that you have the right to view and copy most documents and records that are kept on file with the courts in the state of Pennsylvania.
This right is embedded in the common law under Publicker Industries, Inc. v. Cohen, 733 F.2nd 1059, 1066 (3rd Cir. 1893). As of January 2009, it has been codified in the recently revised Right-To-Know Law.
Access to Pennsylvania Court Records
You have a legal right to review Pennsylvania court records under the state's Right-To-Know Law, Section 702. Even better, you are not required to tell the clerk your reason for requesting the information. Therefore, you will not be denied access to Pennsylvania court records based on what you plan to do with the information that you receive.
According to the law, you should be able to obtain access to any public records "that documents a transaction or activity of an agency and that is created, received or retained pursuant to law or in connection with a transaction, business or activity of the agency", with the exemption of documents that have been ordered sealed by the court. You have the right to access this public information in any form, including documents, notes, photographs, audio and video recordings and electronic files.
Put It in Writing
You can make your request for Pennsylvania court records in writing or verbally. However, if you are denied access to the court records that you need, you can only pursue remedies under the Right-To-Know Law if you originally made a request in writing. Therefore, the best option is submit your request in writing to the courthouse in the county where the records that you seek are stored.
Be Clear
When you make your request for Pennsylvania court records, it is important to be as clear as possible in order to make it easy for the court clerk to identify and locate the records that you want. Make sure your request for records is addressed to the open-records officer, and then mail it, fax it or email it to the correct court office. In addition, you also need to make sure that you list the name and address where you want a response or the records sent.
Give It Time
The court office has five business days to respond to your request once they receive it. If you have not heard from them within this time, it is safe to assume your request for Pennsylvania court records has been denied. If the court needs time to recover the records from a remote location, they will notify you with an expected date to respond to your request.
If the court believes that it will take more than thirty days to fulfill your request for court records, your request will be denied. However, you can agree in writing to an extension, meaning that you will not be kept waiting more than thirty-five days without written consent.
Keep in mind that there may be fees required for the Pennsylvania court records that you request. The fee covers the expense of postage to mail the records to you, paper for copying, certifying or converting documents from electronic records. However, the fees are generally reasonable.
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