As the public, press and researchers have long requested, the trial court in Washington, D.C., has begun making court files available online. Called "eAccess" on the court home page, the new system replaces the previous Court Cases Online portal that included for each case only a list of events (called the "docket"). The new system adds access to case documents such as complaints, motions, briefs, opinions and orders.
Of 22 types of D.C. cases, dockets are now available in all, and records filed after last Friday, August 11, in eight. Those include major areas such as civil and criminal, as well as specialized courts such as landlord and tenant, small claims, and some probate and tax cases. No information is provided on a schedule for adding earlier records and the remaining case types.
Records filed earlier can be viewed at terminals and printed out in the Moultrie Courthouse, 500 Indiana Ave., N.W., Washington, DC.
Instructions for using the new system are here.
No registration is needed, and no fee is charged for searching or viewing records. Several browsers are supported including Explorer, Chrome and Firefox.
Court papers in the District's trial courts have been filed electronically for many years. The added online access, following the lead of a handful of other places, brings the District into the vanguard of 21st century open court records policy. Federal court records have been accessible online for many years, but complex problems (not present here) of synchronizing computers in multiple counties have delayed full access in many states. All cases in the District are heard in two courts, D.C. Superior Court and D.C. Court of Appeals. In the Court of Appeals, case dockets for appeals are available online and complete access is also under consideration. The D.C. nonprofit Council for Court Excellence recently reviewed the state of online records access nationwide, for use of the D.C. courts in their planning.