Iowa Court Records

Why Iowa Court Records are Available to the Public

In 1967, the Iowa State Legislature pass a law named the Iowa Open Records Act. This law was enabled with the last changes through the following years enabling all public records to be released to the public. It aims to offer the public openly any information about people’s conduct and government bodies’ activities.

What Court Records Access Means To You

The law is similar to the Iowa Open Meetings Law legislates the methods by which public meetings are held as the Iowa Open Records Act intent is that all records maintained by state and local government entities be available for public access and copying.

 Accountability to the Public

When the legislature enacted Iowa Open Records Act, it expressively declared that access to information about the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state, . Indeed, in Iowa access to the government and court records, in particular,  a fundamental interest in citizenship and has emphasized that maxim disclosure of the conduct of governmental operations [is] promoted by the act. By promoting prompt public access to government records, the Idaho Public Records Act is to safeguard the government's accountability to the public.

How the Idaho Court Process Functions

Most cases in Iowa courts begin in one of the 99 superior or trial courts in  the state’s 99 counties.

The next level of judicial authority resides with the Court of Appeals. Most cases before the Court of Appeals involves the review of a superior court decision being contested by a party involved in the case.

The Supreme Court serves as the highest court in the state and has to make decisions for the Court of Appeals to settle important questions of law and to resolve conflicts among the Court of Appeals. 

Some differences between Civil Court and Small Claims Court below


Small Claim



Only the party who was sued can file an appeal. The person who filed the claim cannot appeal.

Either party can appeal.

Attorney Representation

You cannot have a lawyer file your papers or go to court with you – except for an appeal.

You can have a lawyer file your papers and go to court for you.

Filling fee for either defendant or plaintiff’s claim

$30 -$100 per claim

$180 - $320 per claim

Pretrial Discovery allowed



How long to complete your case

30-70 days after the complaint

120 days after you file the complaint


You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to file or defend a case in Small Claims Court. If you do not speak English well, bring someone who speaks English and ask the judge if that person can serve as your interpreter. The court cannot provide you an interpreter.

You can find an interpreter by using the Iowa Courts Interpreter Search page. Also see the webpage with interpreter information on this website  .

How Idaho Court Records Are Structured

The court records group is for civil and small claims matters.

Civil cases are matters where the petitioner is seeking more than $200,000. Close to 175,000 civil court records filed with the courts annually. Civil cases also include other types of disputes that do not involve money, like cases to resolve (or “quiet”) title to real property, cases asking for civil restraining orders and requests to change your name or your child’s name.

Small Claims Court filings are cases where the petitioner is seeking $4,000 or less and is not represented by counsel. Close to 100,000 of small claims cases filed statewide every year.

 Here are some examples of common Small Claims Court cases:

  • Your former landlord refuses to return the security deposit you paid.
  • Someone dents your fender and refuses to pay for the repairs.
  • Your new TV does not work, and the store will not fix it.
  • Your tenant caused damage to the apartment, and the repairs cost more than their security deposit (Note: You cannot use small claims court to evict someone.).
  • You lent money to a friend, and he/she refuses to pay you back.
  • Any money debts that does not exceed $4,000.
  • Any forcible entry and detainer that does not exceed $4,000.
  • Any action of replevin that does not exceed $4,000.
  • Small Claims Court can also order a defendant to do something, as long as the claim is also asking for money. For example, the court can cancel a contract or the court can order your neighbor to pay you for your lawn mower or order them to return it to you right away.


Iowa State Archives

Iowa State Archives

Results Include

Full State Record Report:

  • Name
  • Location
  • Case Number
  • Case Summary
  • Docket
  • Police Report
  • Court Documents
  • Legal Records
  • Case File
  • Statements
  • Transcripts
  • Legal Forms
  • Case Notes
  • Disposition
  • Trial Records
  • Arbitration
  • Case Evidence
  • Witnesses
  • Interviews
  • Descriptions
  • Mugshots
  • Charges
  • Legal Motions
  • Attorney Records
  • Prosecution Records
Iowa Des Moines Courthouse and Post Office 1901

Iowa Des Moines Courthouse and Post Office 1901

  • State Archives hold over 700 cubic feet of records.
  • There are 2 levels of Courts: trial and appellate.
  • Iowa District Courts are the state trial courts of general jurisdiction in the state of Iowa.
  • There are 8 judicial districts, each encompassing five or more of Iowa's 99 counties.
  • The highest Court in Iowa is Iowa Supreme Court.
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