Court Records

Research Guides

About the Records

The most frequently requested court records at the Utah State Archives are divorce decrees, naturalization or citizenship records, documentation of name changes, probate records, and criminal records.

District Courts, 1896-present

The district court is the state trial court of general jurisdiction. The district court has original jurisdiction for all civil cases and all criminal felonies: homicides, assaults, sex and drug offenses, forgery, arson, robbery, and misdemeanors in certain circumstances. 

An important part of the district court caseload is domestic relations cases, such as divorces, child custody and support, adoption, and probate. District judges have the power to issue extraordinary writs. Also, naturalization was often handled by the courts. 

Beginning in 1896, the records for each county were kept separately. There are now eight judicial districts, consult the historical jurisdictional chart to know the districts that counties fell under in the past.

Court System Overview
Sanpete County Court House

First District Court

  • Box Elder County
  • Cache County
  • Rich County

Second District Court

  • Davis County
  • Morgan County
  • Weber County

Third District Court

  • Salt Lake County
  • Summit County
  • Tooele County

Fourth District Court

  • Juab County
  • Millard County
  • Utah County
  • Wasatch County
Illustrated map of Utah with county boundaries and labels

Fifth District Court

  • Beaver County
  • Iron County
  • Washington County

Sixth District Court

  • Garfield County
  • Kane County
  • Piute County
  • Sanpete County
  • Sevier County
  • Wayne County

Seventh District Court

  • Carbon County
  • Emery County
  • Grand County
  • San Juan County

Eighth District Court

  • Daggett County
  • Duchesne County
  • Uintah County

Territorial Courts, 1850-1895

The legislature of the proposed State of Deseret approved on January 9, 1850 county courts and justices of the peace. County Probate Courts were established by the legislature in January 1851. They could also hear appeals from justice of the peace courts. 

Learn More
Photograph of older courthouse

Court Case and Document Types

Document Types

Minute books
A daily chronological record of court proceedings and often include lists of jury members, names of attorneys admitted to practice, information about financial accounts and the collection of fees, and sometimes the text of orders of the court.
Register of actions (or docket book)
Provides a summary of proceedings in each case including a brief abstract of motions and orders, the amount of fees collected, and the eventual disposition.
Order or judgment books
Record the text of each document and the amount of any monetary judgment.
Probate Record Books
The text of documents and orders filed in probate matters are copied into probate record books.
Case Files
The bulk of a court's records consists of case files arranged numerically by the case number assigned at the time the petition or complaint initiating the case was filed. Case files generally include the original papers filed by attorneys or issued by the court such as petitions, motions, indictments, complaints, subpoenas, depositions, affidavits, writs, and judgments or decrees.
An official and certified copy of what transpired in court or at an out-of-court deposition
Documentation or items of real evidence

*Both have a short retention period. These records typically are not transferred to the state archives, however in rare cases they were included in the case file.

Docket Cover

Court Cases

The main types in all eras are civil, criminal, and probate. Within those types are records that are commonly researched on their own, such as divorce proceedings being a civil case record. Case files and other documents are retained by the court until about fifty years have passed, when they may be transferred to us.

  • Civil cases are private lawsuits concerning a failed legal responsibility such a breach of contract, negligence, divorce, and copyright.
  • Criminal cases are when the government charges a defendant for a crime and are retained long term generally only for felony crimes. These records may be subject to expungement procedures. 
  • Probate cases most often establish a valid will for the estate of a deceased person, but also concern adoptions and legal name changes.

Historical Jurisdictions

To search for court records, you’ll need the jurisdiction for the case. Most often, this will be the county of residence (or location for a business) of one or both parties. This chart compiles historical jurisdiction information for all counties, including those now extinct, in Utah from the territorial period to the present.

(N) = Northern Division of First District
(S) = Southern Division of First District

Extinct Counties in Territorial Court Districts

Page Last Updated March 27, 2024.

About this Guide
Written by Glen Fairclough (document types) and originally published in June 1999.