• March 26, 2021

A post by Karen Cole

At last!   Minnesota courts are making many district court records available online. 

You can now search by case number for many district court documents filed after July 1, 2015.  

Public court documents will now be accessible online for most types of civil and criminal case cases.  Only court-generated documents will be available online for some case types, such as family court cases and post-adjudication paternity proceedings.   And, under the rules of public access, some public court documents are accessible only at courthouses.   

To access public court documents online, log onto the mncourts.gov website, and go to the page that allows access to district court case records.   You will see the familiar link for Minnesota Public Access (MPA) Remote access.  This is the link we have been using to access the register of actions for district court cases.  You will now also see a new link for “Minnesota Court Records Online (MCRO).”   That link will connect you to information about the new MCRO application.  To search for case records, click on “Access MCRO” and the Document Search tab and insert the case number.  Voila la. 

This is the first of a three-phase effort to make more public court documents available online. 

 The second phase will allow access to the registers of actions, and will allow searches by party name and attorney name.  And the third phase will allow more advanced searches.

The existing Minnesota MPA system will remain in place until the full transition to the new MCRO system is complete.   Eventually, users will be charged for documents accessed.

Much more information about the MCRO application is online. 

The new system allows access to documents filed on or before July 1, 2015.  That is the day that extensive amendments to the Minnesota Rules of Public Access took effect.  The amended public access rules set up a detailed system for classifying the accessibility of filed documents, depending on the kind of case and the kind of document.   When the 2015 amendments were adopted, the plan was to contract with a vendor to design and put in place an application for online access to Minnesota’s district court documents.  Problems with vendor capabilities and performance delayed implementation of that plan.  In the end, the Courts decided to develop the new system internally. The decision to move forward with internal development of the access system was made in spring 2020. It is amazing that the first phase of the work has been completed in the space of a year and that documents are now accessible.   

Completion of phase I of the project is a major achievement.