You may have heard of courthouse research, but you may not know exactly what it is. Courthouse research means going to a court where a matter was filed and handled, or a government building, and making copies of documents (which are public) or taking notes on such matters from original copies or microfiches of paperwork.
You may wonder why you would hire a person to do this. Well, there are several valid reasons. Here are just a few:
1. Witness Research
An attorney or a pro-se litigant may have a “perfect” witness that they intend to call for a hearing or trial, which you, as an opposing party’s attorney, found out about through discovery. The other side feels like they have their case “in the bag” due this witness. How can you discredit this person?
Courthouse research comes in handy because you can go through any matters that involve that witness and may find some “dirty laundry” that can be used to damage him or her on the stand.
However, many attorneys are busy and don’t have the time to conduct such a probe, so it is easier to contract the work out.
2. Ensuring your Witness or Client isn’t Hiding Anything
Conversely, your clients or witnesses may be deceiving you on some things and stonewalling you on others. Be sure you have the whole story by conducting an impromptu background check using courthouse research.
3. Case Research
Courts are bound by previous cases in their state and local area that have set prior precedents. And, while many of these cases that change precedent, known afterward as common law, are published in state reporters or legal databases, not all of them are. This is especially true if they are new. Going to the source and getting copies of the original case paperwork can definitely be beneficial to attorneys dealing with similar matters.
4. Land Records
If you are assisting a potential homebuyer with a closing, you will need to ensure that the property has free and clear title in order for the sale to be successful.
A title defect may include service liens from unpaid contractors, second mortgages, liens from unpaid utilities, and various claims to ownership which were never settled (possibly due to estate claims).
Another reason to search for land records is to ensure there are no unknown easements or rights of way that the buyer may be unaware of.
In conclusion, courthouse research is an important tool in any lawyer’s or pro-se litigant’s toolbox. There are many benefits to the use of a research company when it comes to legal matters. What can we help you with?

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This