Arizona Court Records
Information about many of your ancestors can be found in court records, perhaps as defendants, plaintiffs, witnesses, or jurors. They may have participated in cases involving probate, naturalization, divorce, debt, adoption, guardianship, licenses, appointment to public offices, taxes, civil and criminal lawsuits, property disputes, crimes, or other matters brought before a court. Court records can establish family relationships and places of residence. They often provide occupations, descriptions of individuals, and other excellent family history information.
Between the date counties were created and the date they were organized, which could be several years, some counties were attached to other counties for administrative purposes. This sometimes makes it hard to find the early records.
Summary of History
Major Arizona courts that kept records of genealogical value were established as follows:
- 1852-1863: New Mexico county, district, probate, and supreme courts were the functioning courts for the Arizona area.
- 1864-1912: District courts had county-wide jurisdiction over records of chancery, criminal cases, and divorces. Naturalizations were handled until 1906 when the U.S. district court was given exclusive jurisdiction.
- 1912-present: Superior courts superseded the district and probate courts. Their jurisdiction is county-wide and includes major civil cases, cases of law or equity involving property, criminal, probate, divorce, juvenile, naturalizations, and appellate functions for cases appealed from justice of the peace courts.
Police or magistrate's courts have citywide concurrent jurisdiction with the justice courts over cases involving the violation of state laws committed within city limits.
Justice courts have district-wide jurisdiction over misdemeanors and minor criminal cases.
Supreme court serves as the statewide appellate court, with jurisdiction over cases involving more that one county.
Arizona court records are available at the various county courthouses. The Family History Library has not acquired copies of the court records.