Los Angeles Superior Court Civil Cases: Finally, Free Party Name Searching Option

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What We Used to Do to Search by Party Name

Although you can search civil (http://linkon.in/lasupernumber) and criminal (http://linkon.in/lasupercrimdefname) case summaries (dockets) free by case number using the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s official website, searching by party name requires a fee, as shown in the fee schedule below (civil:http://linkon.in/lasupparty and criminal:http://linkon.in/lasupercrimdefname).

Even if you receive no results, you are still charged for the search.

  • Per search fee for search number 1 to 10    $ 1.00
  • Per search fee for search number 11 to 99    $ 4.75
  • Per search fee for search number 100 to 999    $ 4.50
  • Per search fee for search number 1000 to 10000    $ 4.25
  • Per search fee for search number 10001 and above    $ 4.00


What You Can Do Now: Use Plainsite for Free Name Searching

Fortunately, we now have a free party name search (and also attorney and judge name) thanks to Plainsite.org (http://www.plainsite.org/courts/superior-court-of-california-county-of-los-angeles/). The results only include the docket sheet, not the case documents. The following is an announcement by Aaron Greenspan at Plainsite:

Just wanted to let you know that we have completed indexing our initial batch of Los Angeles County [civil] dockets, beginning with BC and EC. There are about 630,000 dockets available: Note that this means that you no longer need to pay Los Angeles County Superior Court to search the index by name for any BC- or EC- case before 2015. As with all dockets on PlainSite, we also recognize entity names where possible and link them together to create comprehensive profiles. Google should start picking up the pages shortly, as well.”

We tested out the site and found it fairly easy to use. We were surprised by two things: The first surprise was some of our results included dockets outside of the L.A. County Superior Court, such as dockets (and even pleadings) from the USPTO TTAB [decisions issued by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board] and some from PAIR [Patent Application Information Retrieval]. According to Greenspan, “For certain PACER filings we do have pleadings, which come largely from the RECAP browser plugin, and we have them for a lot of USPTO data as well.” The second surprise was when our party name search results also returned attorney and judge name results, until we realized that’s what Greenspan meant by “entity searches.”  However, we did have some strange results when we tested the search for a Los Angeles attorney we know. His results included USPTO dockets, but when we viewed the details his name was nowhere to be found. And, he has never practiced before the USPTO.

As to retrieving civil case documents from PlainSite for free, that’s not an option because Greenspan said, “Los Angeles County are *extremely* expensive.” He continued, “If you already have any documents you would like to share on PlainSite, you can either sign up and use the upload function that appears when you sign in, or you can e-mail documents to help@plainsite.org.” (This seems somewhat similar to the RECAP model, where you add a plug-in to your browser to automatically add every docket or document that you retrieve from PACER.)

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Purchasing Civil Case Documents from the Los Angeles Superior Court Site

Because PlainSite does not include the actual case documents, you will still need to pay for civil case documents at the official Los Angeles Superior Court site (http://linkon.in/lasupdocs), searching by either a case number or a party name.   (Other pay databases might also have these case documents.) The Los Angeles Superior Court allows you to download scanned images of General Jurisdiction Civil (lawsuits greater than $25,000) Case Documents, but only from the Stanley Mosk Courthouse.  The Fee schedule is shown below.

  • Civil Documents 1-5 pages per document (fee per page)    $1.00
  • 6+ additional pages per document (fee per page)    $0.40
  • Maximum per document    $40.00

The site states that, “Most, but not all documents filed with or generated by the Court since January, 2008 are included; additional documents, both newly-filed and previously captured, will be added on a daily basis.” On another part of the site, there is more up-to-date date range chart showing that you can search cases back much further than 2008 and not just General Jurisdiction Civil cases greater than $25,000 (http://linkon.in/lasupercivpartydatechart).

  • Unlimited Civil (lawsuits greater than $25,000)
  • Probate
  • Family Law    1983 - Present
  • Limited Civil (lawsuits $25,000 or less)    1991 - Present
  • Small Claims (lawsuits $5,000 or less)    1992 - Present

Searching Criminal Cases by Name from the Los Angeles Superior Court Site

Plainsite does not offer access to Los Angeles Superior Court Site criminal cases (but does offer some federal cases). The court imposes a fee to search criminal cases by defendant name, using the Court’s online Index of Defendants in Criminal Cases (http://linkon.in/lasupercrimdefname). The search fees are the same as the civil search fees noted earlier. The Index displays a list of case numbers, filing dates, and filing locations of cases that match the defendant name you submitted.  The Index includes felony cases records from 1980 to the present and misdemeanor case records from 1988 to present, but some could go back to 1983 if any of the former Municipal Courts had automated their criminal records back to then. The Criminal Case Summary site, which can be searched for free if you know the case number (or have retrieved it from your Index search results), provides more extensive information about the case than the index, such as: case information (the count, charge section, charge statute, plea, disposition, and disposition date), events, bail, and sentencing. However, case documents are not available.

Aaron Greenspan’s Plainsite.org free name search should prove useful to researchers who need to conduct a litigation search by party, attorney, or judge name, saving them both time and some money.

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