Court of record
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A court of record is a
trial court A trial court or court of first instance is a court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the admin ...
or
appellate court A court of appeals, also called a court of appeal, appellate court, appeal court, court of second instance or second instance court, is any court of law that is empowered to hear an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal. In much of t ...
in which a record of the
proceedings In academia and librarianship, conference proceedings is a collection of academic papers published in the context of an academic conference or workshop. Conference proceedings typically contain the contributions made by researchers at the conferen ...
is captured and preserved, for the possibility of
appeal In law, an appeal is the process in which cases are reviewed by a higher authority, where parties request a formal change to an official decision. Appeals function both as a process for error correction as well as a process of clarifying and ...
. A
court clerk A court clerk (British English: clerk to the court or clerk of the court ; American English: clerk of the court or clerk of court ) is an officer of the court whose responsibilities include Records management, maintaining records of a court, admin ...
or a
court reporter A court reporter, court stenographer, or shorthand reporter is a person whose occupation is to capture the live testimony in proceedings using a stenographic machine, thereby transforming the proceedings into an official certified transcript ...
takes down a record of oral proceedings. That written record (and all other evidence) is preserved at least long enough for all appeals to be exhausted, or for some further period of time provided by law (for example, in some U.S. states, death penalty statutes provide that all evidence must be preserved for an extended period of time). Most courts of record have rules of procedure (see rules of evidence, rules of
civil procedure Civil procedure is the body of law that sets out the rules and standards that court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law) ...
, and rules of
criminal procedure Criminal procedure is the adjudication process of the criminal law. While criminal procedure differs dramatically by jurisdiction, the process generally begins with a formal criminal charge with the person on trial either being free on bail or i ...
) and therefore they require that most parties be represented by counsel (specifically, attorneys holding a license to practice law before the specific tribunal). In contrast, in courts not of record, oral proceedings are not recorded, and the judge makes his or her decision based on notes and memory. In most "not of record" proceedings, the parties may appear personally, without lawyers. For example, most
small claims court Small-claims courts have limited jurisdiction to hear Civil law (common law), civil cases between private litigants. Courts authorized to try small claims may also have other judicial functions, and go by different names in different jurisdiction ...
s, traffic courts, justice courts presided over by
justices of the peace A justice of the peace (JP) is a judicial officer of a lower or '' puisne'' court, elected or appointed by means of a commission (letters patent Letters patent ( la, litterae patentes) (plurale tantum, always in the plural) are a type of ...
, many administrative tribunals that make initial governmental administrative decisions such as government benefit determinations, and the like, are not courts of record.


United States

"Of record" and "not of record" are two polar extremes of a spectrum, and there is a transition zone between them. Many proceedings have an intermediate character, with some "of record" characteristics but not others. For example, in some agencies of the U.S. government, oral arguments in intra-agency appeals are transcribed by a reporter as a matter of the agency's choice, but since the record is not required by statute, other guarantees of 5 U.S.C. §§ 554, 556, and 557 do not apply. For example, in proceedings before executive branch agencies of the U.S. federal government, fully-formal proceedings of record are governed by the "formal adjudication" or "on the record" provisions of §§ 554, 556, and 557, but informal proceedings or "not on the record" proceedings are governed by § 555. However, powers available to the tribunal turn on the tribunal having full "of record" characteristics. For example, in many states, statutes provide that the power to fine or imprison lies only with courts of record. Similarly, for a court to punish for contempt, there must be a record of exactly what was said by whom and so the power to punish for contempt requires the tribunal have at least a court reporter taking down all proceedings. The rationale is that criminal penalties or contempt penalties may not be imposed unless there is a right of appeal, and an appeal is only meaningful if the trial-level court kept a record of its proceedings. In some classes of cases, after a determination by an inferior or lower
tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority to judge, adjudicate on, or determine claims or disputes—whether or not it is called a tribunal in its title. For example, an advocate who appears before a court with a single ...
not of record, a party may take a first-level appeal to a tribunal that is of record. For example, many government administrative agencies delegate initial decisions to a single person who acts informally, typically with a title like "clerk" or "examiner," such as a Social Security claims examiner or a patent examiner. Then, the agency provides a first-level of intra-agency review before a board of appeals that conducts its proceedings on a more formal basis than the proceedings before the initial hearing officer. In most cases, the first level appeal is " trial ''de novo''" (or a 'hearing ''de novo). The intra-agency appeal may be of record or not or somewhere between, depending on the agency. That is not an appeal as such but a new proceeding, which completely supersedes the result of the prior agency determination. Often, the review tribunal will not permit introduction of new evidence, or may have evidentiary rules that are quite restrictive. When the first-level adjudication is made by an executive branch agency, and after all intra-agency procedures are exhausted, it is often possible to go to a court to seek
judicial review Judicial review is a process under which executive, legislative and administrative actions are subject to review by the judiciary The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and cou ...
of the judgment of the agency.For example, judicial review of decisions of U.S. federal agencies is provided for by 5 U.S.C. §§ 702-706. The primary function of the record is to serve as the basis for
appellate review In law, an appeal is the process in which cases are reviewed by a higher authority, where parties request a formal change to an official decision. Appeals function both as a process for error correction as well as a process of clarifying and ...
of the agency- or trial-level proceedings. The record from a
trial court A trial court or court of first instance is a court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the admin ...
includes the
evidence Evidence for a proposition is what supports this proposition. It is usually understood as an indication that the supported proposition is true. What role evidence plays and how it is conceived varies from field to field. In epistemology, evid ...
introduced by the parties and some form of record of the proceeding itself, which includes copies of all papers filed by the parties and a transcript of any
trial In law, a trial is a coming together of Party (law), parties to a :wikt:dispute, dispute, to present information (in the form of evidence (law), evidence) in a tribunal, a formal setting with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate claims or d ...
, and it may include an audio or videotape of hearings, appearances, or arguments of
motion In physics, motion is the phenomenon in which an object changes its Position (geometry), position with respect to time. Motion is mathematically described in terms of Displacement (geometry), displacement, distance, velocity, acceleration, speed ...
s. Exhibits introduced in
evidence Evidence for a proposition is what supports this proposition. It is usually understood as an indication that the supported proposition is true. What role evidence plays and how it is conceived varies from field to field. In epistemology, evid ...
are maintained in the court record at least for a certain period of time after the case has been tried, when the evidence may be returned to the parties or destroyed. If either party takes an appeal, the lower court produces a copy certified by a unique seal to authenticate the formal record.


References

{{Reflist Courts by type Common law