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Most Nevada District Courts don’t offer case information online, study says

Fifteen of Nevada’s 17 district courts do not provide online access to case information, and only one allows the public to see documents online, according to a report released this week.

The report, which was commissioned by the Nevada Open Government Coalition and co-sponsored by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, found that courts are trying to improve access, but that they face barriers due to a lack of funding and staff time.

The state’s Administrative Office of the Courts is using $25 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan to expand electronic filing of court documents, but it’s not a given that it will also give the public online access, according to a news release from the coalition. And policies for when people have to pay for records are inconsistent.

“The right to access court proceedings is a fundamental tenet of our democracy and the fair adjudication of justice,” the report said. “Yet far too often, members of the public, the media and advocacy groups face barriers and challenges seeking information about legal matters processed by state and federal court systems.”

District courts in Nevada handle lawsuits, criminal cases and divorces. They are not unified, but are run through local governments.

The coalition said it began surveying court staff in February and discovered “a patchwork of policies and rules that can complicate the public’s ability to obtain court records.”

In Clark County, the District Court provides full online access, which means the public can see case information and documents online. Washoe County has online access to case information, but a separate process to get the records.

None of the other District Courts have a way for the public to see records online, but all of them have a remote option, like email or fax, which the report said is important in rural counties where courthouses can be far from where people live.

Change may be coming. The Pershing County District Court hopes to have an online system in the next five years, according to the report. The Churchill County District Court expects to have a new system that will allow case and calendar searches sometime this year.

Fees for records remain a barrier, though, and policies for them are also inconsistent. Some courts, like the Lincoln County District Court, said they don’t waive fees. Others, such as the Douglas County District Court, waive them for government. The Humboldt County District Court said it waives them depending on the case.

Journalist Daniel Rothberg conducted the research for the report, which was also sponsored by The Nevada Independent, Our Nevada Judges and This is Reno.

Contact Noble Brigham at nbrigham@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BrighamNoble on X.

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