Kentucky Court Records Lookup

The following is for information purposes only

Kentucky Court Records

What types of courts are in Kentucky?

As granted by the constitution of Kentucky, there exists a single Court of Justice, that is subdivided into various tiers and functions. The power originates with the Kentucky Supreme Court, beneath which is the state-level appellate body the Kentucky Court of Appeals. The appellate body hears appeals on case decisions handed down by the Kentucky Circuit Courts and Kentucky District Courts.

How are Kentucky court cases managed?

Case management in the state of Kentucky is bound by the original jurisdiction over the case, as well as the limitations placed on lower courts. The lowest jury trial courts in the state are the District Courts. They can pass more serious cases onto the Circuit Courts, which make determinations on more serious crimes and civil cases.

Decisions from the Circuit Courts can be appealed to the Court of Appeals, or directly to the Kentucky Supreme Court in some specific situations. The Kentucky Supreme Court will also have specific duties and jurisdictions that are unique to that branch of the court.

Which courts are in Kentucky?

The Kentucky Court of Justice is divided into four main parts, the District Courts which have the most limited jurisdiction, the Circuit Courts which hear most criminal and civil cases, the state appeals court, and the state supreme court.

Kentucky District Courts

Kentucky District Courts are the lowest tier of trial courts present in the state of Kentucky. They hear not only criminal misdemeanor cases of limited severity, but they also preside over many types of small claims cases, traffic offenses, and minor violations of municipal ordinances or village statutes. The Kentucky District Courts also hold jurisdiction over domestic violence or abuse cases, concurrently with the Circuit Courts.

All appeals to decisions reached by District Courts must be made to Circuit Courts and must be made to the court presiding over the corresponding district. Any additional appeals are only permitted discretionarily, to the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Kentucky Circuit Courts

The Kentucky Circuit Courts are the state-level trial courts that hold general jurisdiction in Kentucky. Kentucky Circuit Courts have original jurisdiction over all cases involving capital crimes or other serious crimes, and all felonies. Kentucky Circuit Courts also hear all probate cases, land and real estate disputes, and civil suits that center around more than $5,000.

This court also holds original jurisdiction over all cases filed in the state which deal with marriage dissolution or divorce, visitation rights or child custody cases, child support and alimony, and both termination of parental rights as well as adoption. The Kentucky Circuit Courts also hold jurisdiction over any cases revolving around child neglect or abuse, or domestic abuse, simultaneously with Kentucky District Courts.

The Kentucky Circuit Courts are also granted the authority to issue writs of prohibition or mandamus, injunctions, and appeals regarding determinations made by state administrative agencies. Decisions made by District Courts are also appealed to Kentucky Circuit Courts.

Kentucky Court of Appeals

The first level of the state-level appeals process begins at the Kentucky Court of Appeals. It has a total of 14 appellate judges that serve 8-year terms, and when hearing a case they often sit in panels composed of three judges. These panels are created and assigned by the chief judge who is elected by the 14 total judges.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals hears cases on appeal from the Kentucky Circuit Courts, and rarely, the Kentucky District Courts. The Kentucky Court of Appeals does not, however, hear any cases that have been decided by Circuit Courts which involve capital punishment, life sentences, or where the potential imprisonment is 20 years or more. Cases in situations like these are assigned directly to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Kentucky Supreme Court

The Kentucky Supreme Court was created through an amendment to the Kentucky state constitution and operates as the highest court in the state. It has only existed since 1975, and before it was created the highest court was the state appeals court.

The Kentucky Supreme Court hears criminal appeals to sentences of death, life in prison, or imprisonment of twenty years or more. These cases are assigned directly to the Kentucky Supreme Court as original jurisdiction. Any other cases are only heard on a discretionary basis, and they must first appeal to the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

As with some other states, the Kentucky Supreme Court also acts as the state's Administrative Office of the Courts. This means they act in a support capacity and handle all of the administrative duties for all lower courts in the state. This role is similar to the position of court clerk found in many judicial bodies.

What are the federal district courts in Kentucky?

Kentucky contains two federal district courts, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. The state is split approximately in half to determine the districts.

How to find electronic court records in Kentucky?

The state of Kentucky makes available not just archives of records, but current records of dockets and cases currently being heard. For records from the Circuit Courts, most people can find records on the Kentucky Court of Justice site. There is also KYeCourts, which is a state resource for searching civil and criminal case status and information.

When the case is being heard or presided over by a district court, they will often maintain their archives. In this case, the party would navigate to the website for the county or district where the case was filed, and use their native search engine.