Wyoming Court Records
Instant Access to State, County and Municipal Public Records
Are Wyoming Court Records Public?
Yes. Wyoming recognizes a constitutional right of access to public documents as specified in the Wyoming Public Records Act. However, there are specific guidelines governing access to court records in the state, known as the Wyoming Rules Governing Access to Court Records. These rules are designed to:
- Promote access to court records
- Protect individual privacy rights and public interests
- Prevent public access to information that is confidential as a matter of law, public policy, court rule, or court order
- Make effective use of court staff
A court record in Wyoming refers to case records and administrative records, in whatever format, except personnel records, judicial or judicial staff work product, internal electronic or physical mail, memoranda or drafts, appellate case assignments, and records made confidential by statute, administrative rule, court rule, or court order. Court records restricted from public access include:
- Adoption and confidential intermediary records
- Attorney discipline records
- Mediation proceeding record
- Domestic violence protection order petitioners’ and their children’s identifying information
- Grand jury records
- Guardianships and conservatorships records
- Involuntary commitment records
- Records from child abuse and neglect proceedings
- Records related to juvenile justice proceedings in the District Court
- Records related to children in need of supervision proceedings
- Presentence investigation reports
- Search warrant applications and affidavits until served and returned
- Discovery material or other items submitted to a court for in camera review
- Mental health and counseling records
- Substance abuse evaluation reports
- Records sealed by a court
- Medical records
- Crime victim’s compensation application
- Probation counselor case records
- Court supervised treatment program information
- Criminal history record information
- Sex offender registration information
- Administrative subpoena information regarding child exploitation investigations
Court records are to be made available for public access during regular business hours of the court by the official responsible for keeping or maintaining the records. No public record custodian is permitted to restrict access or allow greater access to court records than as provided in the Wyoming Rules Governing Access to Court Records. Courts records are available for inspection or copying at the various courthouses during regular business hours of the court. Electronic records of the courts are also available for public access at any time, subject to normal system maintenance and unforeseen technical glitches.
Where an individual has been denied access to a public court record by the record custodian, a petition directing the custodian to grant access may be filed with the court. Unless the court finds that the record is confidential as a matter of law, or that the record should remain sealed, the custodian will be granted access by the court.
How Do I Find Court Records in Wyoming?
The first step to take when trying to obtain court records in Wyoming is to ascertain the court where the case was filed. The next step is to make a request to the record custodian of the court to access the required record. Requests to the clerks of court who are the record custodians can be made through in-person visits or by using the public access terminal in the courthouse to view electronic copies of available court records.
Wyoming courts provide access to the public to search public filings in cases docketed in the Supreme Court using its Public Docket tool. The tool also allows users to view and download court notices, orders, and appellate briefs. Users can search for case information through one of these options:
- Case number
- Issue dates
- Party information
Persons interested in accessing the opinions and orders of the Supreme Court can do so via the court's Opinion Search tool on the Wyoming Judiciary Branch website.
To obtain a paper or certified copy of a court record, visit the location of the court where the record is filed. The Supreme Court is located at:
2301 Capitol Avenue
Cheyenne, WY 82001
To locate other courts in Wyoming, use the District Courts location, Circuit Courts location, or Municipal Courts directory tools on the Wyoming Judiciary Branch website. Note that copying court records will attract a nominal fee at the courthouses.
How Do Wyoming Courts Work?
Most criminal cases start in the Circuit Court, irrespective of the case type, misdemeanor or felony. Misdemeanor cases exist entirely in the Circuit Courts. Here, defendants enter pleas, stand trial, and are sentenced by the Circuit Court judge. Typically, misdemeanor crimes proceedings move fast in the Circuit Courts. For instance, during an initial appearance, a misdemeanor defendant may hear advisement of rights, plead guilty, and receive a sentence all within 30 minutes.
If a defendant pleads not guilty, the case moves to a trial. There are usually six jurors in misdemeanor cases compared to 12 in felony cases, and the trials in the Circuit Courts also move faster than in the District Courts. Sentencing in the Circuit Courts are quick, with fewer formalities involved. Civil matters in Wyoming Circuit Courts involve matters in which the amount is less than $50,000.
Wyoming District Courts handle more serious offenses, like felonies. Although initial appearances for felony crimes occur in the Circuit Courts, pleas are not entered there. Persons charged with felony crimes only make an initial appearance in the Circuit Court where the judge sets bond. Another appearance may be made a few weeks later in what is called a preliminary hearing. This is like a mini-trial where a judge determines if there is enough evidence to bound the case to the District Court. The majority of such cases end up moving to the District Court. In some instances, defendants even waive the preliminary hearing altogether, meaning that the case gets to the District Court quicker.
In the District Court, a defendant appears at an arraignment, enters a plea, and the court sets a trial date. The prosecution and defense may reach a deal and schedule a change of plea hearing or the case may proceed to trial. Trials in the District Court feature 12-person jurors.
Some Wyoming cities have Municipal Courts with jurisdiction over violations of city ordinances. Sometimes, Municipal Court roles overlap with the jurisdiction of the Circuit or District Courts. For instance, an individual charged with driving under the influence may end up in a Municipal Court, while if the same person has been previously charged with multiple DUIs, or if the offense involves a serious injury, the case may be heard in the Circuit or District Court.
Recently, Chancery Courts were added to the Wyoming court system with jurisdiction over deciding actions seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and actions seeking money recovery over $50,000 arising from specific contract breaches and fraudulent actions.
Wyoming's Supreme Court located in Cheyenne, is the apex court and appellate court in the state. It hears appeals of the decisions of the lower court. The Wyoming Administrative Office of the Courts supports the Supreme Court and lower courts in fulfilling their statutory and constitutional responsibilities. The office provides human resource support, administrative, financial, payroll, audition, and technical assistance to support employees of the Wyoming judicial branch. There are 5 justices, 24 district court judges, 24 circuit court judges, and 4 full-time magistrates serving in Wyoming courts.
The Municipal and the Circuit Courts are the trial courts of limited jurisdiction while the District Courts are the trial courts of general jurisdiction.
What Are Civil Courts and Small Claims in Wyoming?
Wyoming Small Claims Courts are divisions of the Circuit Courts. They are designed to be inexpensive and informal with relaxed court rules to speedily resolve minor civil matters. The court handles matters involving torts, contracts, evictions, landlord/tenant disputes in which the amount in controversy does not exceed $6,000. A Wyoming Small Claims Court is presided over by a judge, and upon request, may include a jury. The court procedures make room for self-representation by parties. However, any party may have legal representation in the court.
A small claims case commences when a plaintiff files a small claims affidavit with the Clerk of the Circuit Court that has jurisdiction over the person or property. The affidavit must be filed in the Circuit Court in the county where the contract was signed, where the property is located, or where the defendant can be found or resides. The typical filing fee is $10 and an additional $4 as an appearance fee. An individual, partnership, or corporation may sue or be sued in a small claims court if jurisdiction exists to hear the claim and the amount of the property or claim involved does not exceed $6,000.
Persons who desire to claim more than the maximum limit of $6,000 in the Small Claims Court must choose to reduce their claim or give up the right to recover the excess, or sue in another Court. Wyoming civil cases may be heard in the District Courts or the Circuit Courts. If the amount in question does not exceed $50,000, the case is heard in the Circuit Court. Where the amount is above $50,000, the case is heard in the District Court.
What Are Appeals and Court Limits in Wyoming?
An appeal is a procedure that allows a party to a case to challenge the decision of a lower court in a higher court. If a party has legal grounds to be dissatisfied with the outcome of a case, a petition may be made to a higher court to review the ruling of the trial court. This procedure starts with the filing of a notice of appeal. Wyoming's timelines for filing a notice of appeal are established in the Wyoming Rules of Appellate Procedure (W.R.A.P.).
An appeal from a Wyoming trial court to an appellate court is taken by filing the notice of appeal with the clerk of the trial court not later than 30 days from the entry of the appealable order. In an instance of excusable neglect, a trial court in any action is permitted to extend the time for filing the notice of appeal, provided the application for extension of time is filed before the expiration of 45 days from entry of the appealable order. If a District Court does not enter an order granting the application for extension within 14 days of the filing of the application, the petitioner may consider the application denied.
Wyoming allows any other party to file a notice of appeal within 15 days of the date on which the first party files a timely notice of appeal. A notice of appeal filed after the court announces a decision or order, but before the entry of the judgment or order, is considered as filed on the date of and after the entry.
What Are Wyoming Judgment Records?
A Wyoming judgment record is a document created when a court of competent jurisdiction issues a judgment in a criminal or civil case. The court clerk then enters the judgment in the court docket to bind the persons involved.
Judgments are decisions on civil and criminal lawsuits filed in courts. Generally, a judgment concludes a typical case unless a litigant pursues an appeal or retrial. The clerk of courts is the record custodian of judgment records in Wyoming, and interested persons may obtain copies of the court record per Wyoming Court Rules.
Interested persons must visit the clerk’s office in the court where the case of interest was adjudicated. Most courts have a standard case record request form, which the requester can use to submit the request. Generally, the information required on this request form is the case number and the names of the persons involved in the case.
The administrative staff will also require that the individual pay a service fee, including copying fees per page, before processing the request. Most courts accept cash, money orders, certified checks, and credit cards for these fees. While judgment records in Wyoming contain information that reflects the case type, there are similarities. A typical judgment record contains:
- The litigants’ names.
- The judge’s name.
- The specific claims of the parties involved.
- The issued judgment.
What are Wyoming Bankruptcy Records?
Wyoming bankruptcy records are the case files of individuals and organizations who are not able to pay back the debt owed to creditors. Any debtor who finds it difficult to pay back their debts owed in Wyoming can file for bankruptcy at the district courts situated at Casper and Cheyenne. The court official working hours in the state are between 8:30 am to 4:00 pm. Bankruptcy being under federal law is handled by a district bankruptcy court in the state. This means that bankruptcy cannot be filed in any of the state courts in Wyoming. Title 11 of the bankruptcy code governs the bankruptcy process. Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13 are the three most popular bankruptcy chapters in the state.
Interested members of the public may view and copy records of bankruptcy proceedings and Wyoming liens, contracts, writs, and judgments. These records are typically maintained in the judicial district where the petition or claim was filed. However, requestors may be required to furnish officials with the information required to search the record of interest.
How Do I Find My Case Number in Wyoming?
Wyoming courts receive a lot of filings every year, especially the trial courts. Without case numbers, it is almost impossible to track and differentiate one case from the other. Hence, a case number is assigned to individual court cases as unique numbers to identify each action filed in the court. A case number can also be useful in obtaining other case-identifying information such as the year of filing, the case type, and the judicial officer to whom it was assigned.
When requesters seek to obtain court records, providing the case number for the record in question will help the record custodian to quickly track and provide the required record. Many courthouses in Wyoming offer the service of helping requesters find their case numbers for a nominal fee provided other information related to the case is provided, such as party name, the year of filing, and attorney name.
It is also possible to access case numbers of cases docketed in the Supreme Court using the court's Public Docket tool. By providing case party information or issue dates, the tool will return case information including case numbers matching the information provided.
Can You Look up Court Cases in Wyoming?
Yes. Non-confidential court cases docketed in the Wyoming Supreme Court are accessible using the Supreme Court Docket tool. In addition, court case information is accessible by using the public access terminal in the courthouses in the state.
Does Wyoming Hold Remote Trials?
Yes. Wyoming had previously adopted a criminal procedure rule (W.R.Crim.P.43.1) allowing for the use of videoconferencing in specific court proceedings, such as initial appearances, arraignments, and probation revocations with the defendants' consent. However, the rule prohibits videoconferences for bench trials, jury trials, and felony sentencing. That has now been expanded to include teleconferencing where appropriate.
Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases throughout Wyoming, the Supreme Court ordered a partial shutdown of court proceedings and full shutdown in some jurisdictions. Wyoming courts implemented measures to protect the health of the public and court personnel including the permission of court proceedings to be held remotely. Wyoming judges now use video or telephone conferencing to the extent possible for court proceedings including administration of oaths and witnesses, and verification of guilty pleas. Felony sentencing and evidentiary probation revocation proceedings are also conducted via video conferencing, if the defendants consent. Many court proceedings now occur via the Zoom video conferencing tool and filings are being done by facsimile or mail.
What is the Wyoming Supreme Court?
The Wyoming Supreme Court is the highest court and final arbiter in legal disputes arising under state law. Its decisions are binding unless in cases where federal law is involved. In such instances, an appeal may be filed with the United States Supreme Court. Many of the cases heard in the Supreme Court are reviews of the decisions of the District Courts. The Wyoming Supreme Court hears appeals of decisions from the District Courts. The Supreme Court oversees the operations of the Wyoming State Bar and ensures adherence to proper legal standards in the practice of law in Wyoming.
The decisions of the Wyoming Supreme Court fall under different categories. Many times, the court's decisions are premised on existing statutes or the rulings in previous cases of the same kind. At other times, there are no exact statutes or past decisions of the court on a particular issue that may serve as precedence. Then the court must interpret the statutes which most closely apply or extend previous decisions to cover the issues under question. Sometimes, circumstances may change, or the existing case law seems not to serve the interest of justice, the Supreme Court may reject a decision in a previous case and apply a new rule of law. Lastly, the Supreme Court may decide that a specific ordinance or statute does not meet the requirement of the United States Constitution or the Wyoming Constitution, and therefore declare it unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court comprises five justices initially appointed to serve for one year. Each justice goes through a retention ballot at the next general election after the expiration of the tentative one-year period. The justices who are retained serve eight-year terms. Justices may serve successive terms provided they are successful in consecutive non-partisan retention elections. The five-member justice panel selects one of its members to serve a four-year term as chief justice. Wyoming Supreme Court justices have a mandatory retirement age of 70 years.
A Supreme Court Justice is required to be a resident of Wyoming for at least three years, an attorney with a minimum of nine years’ experience in law, a citizen of the United States, and at least 30 years old.
Wyoming District Courts
Wyoming District Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases. District Courts handle cases such as:
- Felony crimes
- Juvenile matters
- Probate matters
- Civil cases (above $50,000)
- Appeals from the Circuit and Municipal Courts
District Court judges are appointed by the Governor from a list of three candidates selected by the judicial nominating commission. The appointments are appointed to six-year terms which are renewable in line with the provisions of the Supreme Court. District Courts hold in each county seat with the judges frequently moving around all the counties within their district to hear cases and even traveling to other districts when necessary to help with the workload of other judges. To qualify for a judgeship position in the District Court, an individual is expected to be a resident of Wyoming for a minimum of two years, a citizen of the United States, be at least 28 years old, and must be a licensed attorney. Wyoming District Courts in the nine judicial districts are served by 24 District Judges who have a mandatory retirement age of 70 years.
Wyoming Circuit Courts
Wyoming Circuit Courts are limited jurisdiction courts with jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases. Circuit Courts exist in all Wyoming’s 23 counties conducting preliminary hearings in felony matters and also setting the bail in crime cases. They have jurisdiction over all misdemeanor cases. Other jurisdictions of the court include:
- Cases where the amount in controversy does not exceed $50,000
- Family violence
- Sexual assault protection orders
- Forcible entry and detainer cases
In situations where the Wyoming Supreme Court agrees to a consolidation of courts, the Circuit Court is authorized to share the jurisdiction of the Municipal Court over violations of municipal ordinances.
Circuit Court judges are appointed by the Governor from a list of candidates selected by the judicial nominating commission to serve four-year terms. To qualify for a judgeship position in Wyoming Circuit Courts, an individual is required to be admitted into the practice of law in Wyoming and must be a qualified elector of the state. There are also magistrates in the Circuit Courts serving part or full-time. Circuit Court judges work full-time.
In locations where no Circuit Court judge resides, Wyoming law permits the appointment of a full-time magistrate to serve in the county. Part-time magistrates, often referred to as Lay magistrates are not required to be legally trained but have limited powers in the Circuit Courts. Lay magistrates are not authorized to perform all the duties expected of Circuit Court judges. However, the law permits a Lay magistrate fully trained in law to perform all the duties expected of a Circuit Court judge. Lay magistrates more commonly serve in the less populated areas of Wyoming.
Circuit Court judges may also help with the workload in any of the District Courts at the behest of the District Court Judges.
Wyoming Municipal Courts
Municipal Courts exist in the incorporated cities and towns of Wyoming to handle cases such as:
- Traffic infractions
- Parking violations
- City or town violations
Municipal Courts do not have jurisdiction in civil matters. Judges in the Municipal Courts usually serve part-time and are not required to be lawyers, although many are. Their appointments are usually done in line with city or town edicts. Typically, their appointments are by the Mayors with the approval of the Municipal Councils. The terms of their service are set by their municipalities. Judges are empowered to assess penalties of up to $750 and/or six months in jail for offenders.
Wyoming Chancery Court
In March 2019, Governor Gordon signed an Act of the 2019 Wyoming Legislature (SEA0076) into law, creating a Chancery Court with the responsibility of providing a forum for the streamlined resolution of specific cases pertaining to trust, business, and commercials. The court handle cases in specific areas such as in matters where the amount in despite exceeds $50,000 and is related to:
- Trust disputes
- Business disputes
- Transactions governed by the Wyoming Uniform Trust Code
- Dissolution of corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, banks, and joint ventures.
- Shareholder derivative actions
- Breach of fiduciary duty
- Sale of assets or securities
- Breach of contract
- Commercial class actions
- Environmental insurance disputes
- Commercial insurance coverage disputes
The Chancery Courts are authorized to expedite actions in resolving such cases as listed above through non-jury trials, alternative dispute resolution approaches, and limited motions practice.
The Court has been initialized for a start-up until 2022. During this period, the Wyoming Supreme Court is authorized by law to assign retired justices of the Supreme Court, or active/retired District Court judges, or members of a panel of up to five active District Court judges. At the end of the start-up period, the governor will appoint Judges to the Chancery Courts from a list of three nominations for each position as put forward by the judicial nominating commission.
Chancery Court judges are required to be experienced and conversant with the subject-matter jurisdiction of the court, qualified electors of Wyoming, and authorized to practice law in the state. From March 1, 2020, judgeship positions in the Wyoming Chancery Courts will be filled through the state's constitutional judicial selection process.
It is not yet clear where the Chancery Court will be located. However, the Wyoming judicial branch intends to equip the court with modern courtroom technology to allow for remote connection. The opinions of the court are expected to be published in a searchable electronic database.