CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals is taking steps to make itself more open to the public and the court processes more transparent through its release of the Magistrate Case Record Search System.

Chief Justice Tim Armstead held a news conference Thursday afternoon to announce the launch of the new case search system that works by accessing an online database from any computer or mobile device via the court’s website.

The database allows the public to access all of the magistrate court cases across all 55 counties, displaying docket information on the cases and a list of documents pertaining to each case.

Armstead said it’s a major expansion of access to magistrate court case information.

Tim Armstead

“We believe that this court belongs to the people of our state and that it needs to be open and accessible to those who have a need to have information related to our court system,” Armstead said.

He said this database provides access to documents across all counties dating back to 2003, with some counties having documents from even farther back than that, something which before people had to go to individual courthouses to access.

Armstead said what increases the accessibility to this database even more is that searching for information comes at no cost to citizens and it’s completely user-friendly.

“Why we’re also excited about this is it’s open to everyone and it’s free, you don’t have to subscribe to any service, you can go on your own home computer or cell phone and search this information from that one database,” he said.

After going to the website at, people will find a button towards the bottom of the page under Resources, find Magistrate Court Search, and click it. From there you will see a portal that allows you to type in a party’s name or case number if you have that.

The system also allows the user to choose what type of case to search for, whether it’s civil, criminal, etc.

The docket information available for people to see in the system includes the date of the party’s birth, the amount in the case’s remaining balance, each of the person’s specific charges, and the list of the related documents involved.

Armstead said while you won’t actually be able to access the full documents on the database, it will direct you to the specific county courthouse holding the documents and inquire about them to the county court clerk to access them.

He said its been a commitment of the Supreme Court of Appeals over the last several years to make court information more accessible to everyone, and this will help them achieve that.

“We think this is the next step in that process, we will continue to work on opportunities to make our documents even more accessible, because we do recognize these documents belong to the public,” he said. “This is a court system that’s here to serve the citizens of our state and we’re excited to be able to make this more accessible to them.”

Armstead said while there is always confidentiality concerns that must come first regarding certain cases that they might not be able to make as openly accessible, he said they will continue to work to try to make the system as transparent as possible.

“It’s our goal to always try and keep in mind that we want to make it as user-friendly and accessible as possible,” Armstead said.