Hawaii Public Records
Hawaii government is considered to be among the most open ones in the U.S. However, the language regarding the state’s public records is shallow and bit vague.
The Hawaii Uniform Information Practices Act governs the access of public records in Hawaii. This includes electronic, written, visual, auditory, or any other records kept by Hawaii government agencies and offices.
The Office of Information Practices, through its website, provides an online database known as the Records Report System (RRS) where the public can access public records. The database contains descriptions of more than 29,000 titles and how the information can be retrieved. Even though it lists the records that the government agencies store, the RRS itself doesn’t contain those records.
Exemptions include confidential government records, records for current court proceedings, draft working papers of Hawaii legislative agencies, and records that may amount to an invasion of a person’s privacy.
Hawaii Criminal Records
State background check information, and arrest and criminal records are available at the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center (HCJDC). The HCJDC is the government agency in charge of the criminal history record information, the Adult Criminal Conviction Information website, Sex Offender and Other Covered Offender Registry, and Fingerprint Identification System.
Only the arrest records that resulted in acquittals, convictions, or dismissals due to defect or disorder, mental or physical disease are officially classified as public records. This is stated in Chapter 704, HRS. Juvenile criminal records and non-conviction arrest records are not accessible by the public.
Each county’s correction facility or center is responsible for maintaining jail and inmate records in Hawaii. To obtain any available jail and inmate records, you must contact the facility by phone, by email, or in person.
Hawaii Court Records
The Hawaii State Judicial branch is responsible for administering court records in Hawaii. General information regarding the courts, including reports and news, special projects, community outreach, and legal reference is available at the official website of Hawaii Administrative Director of Courts.
On the Hawaii Administrative Director of Courts site, you can access Hawaii court records through two search portals, the eCourtKokua and Ho`ohiki. The Ho`ohiki indexes both civil and criminal cases from the Hawaii Supreme Court and Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals. You can obtain copies of official court cases at the individual court houses where the cases were heard. You can search traffic cases through eCourtKokua search portal.
Hawaii Vital Records
Hawaii Vital Records include birth, marriage divorce and death records. The Office of Health Status Monitoring keeps all Hawaii vital records. The access of these records is restricted as stated by the statute HRS §338-18. You can request for any of these records by calling (808) 586-4533 at any time, or online through the state’s Office of Health Status Monitoring. You can also make a request in person at the Health Department Building from Monday to Friday starting from 7:45 a.m. up to 2:30 p.m.
- Birth records: Statewide registration law requiring births to be recorded was enacted in 1842 but it was not complied with until 1929. Therefore, clergymen and government authorities recorded some of the pre-1860 births. These records are maintained at the Daughters of the American Revolution Library, the Department of Health, and at the Hawaii State Archives.
- Death records: Death records in Hawaii are organized in the early-1853 category and in the 1853-present category. Death records prior to 1853 were collected from Hawaii Family Search and Hawaii’s Church Records. Death records n the 1853-present category are usually collected yearly from Hawaii Death Index and Hawaii State registrar. Statewide registration of deaths began in 1859 but it was fully complied with by 1929.
- Marriage records: Divorce records are available from 1826 to 1929 at the Hawaii State Archives, the Daughters of the American Revolution Library in Honolulu, and the State Department of Health.
- Divorce records: Divorce proceedings in Hawaii are generally recorded in the circuit court. A large collection of circuit court divorce records from early 1849 to 1915 are available at the Family History Library. Registration of divorce was enacted officially in 1950. These records are not available at the Family History Library.
Hawaii is no doubt an open state. It makes it easier for members of the public to access public records, natal records, court records and criminal records.
Hawaii State Court System
Understanding how the system of Hawaii state court works is very important as it helps you find court records easily.
Hawaii Courts Overview
The trial court system of Hawaii State consists of Tax Appeal Court, Land Courts, Family Courts, District Courts, and Circuit Courts.
To make your work easier, start searching for court records in Hawaii by simply going to courts by county.
Hawaii Circuit Courts
Hawaii Circuit Courts have general jurisdiction to handle all criminal and civil cases, including jury trials, but typically handle only those cases that other courts have no jurisdiction to handle.
Typical cases that these courts handle include abuse prevention, juvenile matters, guardianships, probate matters, domestic relations, felony criminal cases, and general civil cases with amount in dispute exceeding $10,000.
Circuit Courts have limited jurisdiction to handle civil cases with amount in dispute exceeding $20,000 exclusive of interest, fees and cost. They share jurisdiction over civil cases with disputed amount ranging between $10,000 and $20,000, excluding interest, fees, and costs with District Courts.
Circuit Courts also share jurisdiction with Family Courts over family law cases. Each Circuit Court also has a Girls Court for some cases that involve female juvenile offenders.
Hawaii District Courts
Hawaii District Courts have exclusive jurisdiction to handle certain types of criminal and civil cases, but don’t offer jury trials. Criminal cases that these courts handle include traffic infractions, county ordinance violations and misdemeanors. District Courts share jurisdiction over some types of criminal cases with Family Court divisions. Some criminal cases may be transferred to a district Court by a Family Court.
These courts can also issue a restraining order against harassment. There is a Family Court Division in every District Court for handling domestic relations cases that a Family Circuit Court Judge has assigned.
They have jurisdiction to handle most civil cases with less than $20,000 in dispute, exclusive of interest, costs and fees. District courts have limited jurisdiction to handle most civil cases with less than $10,000 in dispute, exclusive of interest and cost.
District Courts have Small Claims divisions for civil cases that involve recovery of amount below $3,500, excluding costs and interest. Small Claims division also have the authority to handle dispute over the return of leased or rented property and landlord-tenant security deposit disputes worth $3,500 or less if the amount disputed is less than $3,500, excluding costs and interest.
District Courts cannot handle jury trials and some certain types of cases, including false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, defamation of character, slander, libel, and dispute over real estate titles.
Hawaii Family Courts
Hawaii Family Courts are typically divisions of District Courts and Circuit Courts. The majority of Family Court cases are typically heard in Circuit Courts. However, a District Family Court division maybe signed a case by a Circuit Family Court judge.
These courts have jurisdiction to handle divorce, civil commitment paternity, child support, guardianship of adults and children, and other domestic violence related cases.
Family Courts have limited jurisdiction over most juvenile matters including child neglect, juvenile delinquency, guardianship of a child, child custody, juvenile curfew violations, termination of parental rights, truancy, and judicial consent to enlistment, employment, and marriage.
These courts have jurisdiction to handle some criminal cases, including non-felony cases against a spouse, failure to provide child support, abandonment, desertion, offenses committed against a child, and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders violations. They share jurisdiction with District Courts and Circuit Courts over some criminal offenses.
Hawaii Land Courts
Hawaii Land Courts have jurisdiction over cases related to some rights associated with land, and registration of title of the land. They also handle cases that the Land Court Registration statute has authorized.
The Land Court is located at the First Circuit Court in Honolulu County and handles cases for the whole state.
Hawaii Tax Appeal Court
This court is located at the First Circuit Court in Honolulu County and hears appeals of decisions of real property taxation as well as problems related to real property taxes. The court handles cases for the whole state.
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