District Court (Seventh District : San Juan County) Civil case files
These records are housed in the Utah State Archives' permanent storage room.
Scope and Content
These case files from the Seventh District Court in San Juan County document the legal process and the administration of justice in conjunction with a civil proceeding for the determination of a controversy between parties wherein rights are enforced or protected, or wrongs are prevented or redressed. Included are all cases which cannot legally be called "criminal cases." Records and documents pertaining to a particular action are filed together by the court clerk, who is required by the Rules of Civil Procedure to file pleadings and other legal papers. Collectively they constitute the case file.
A civil action commences with the filing of a complaint with the court or by service to the defendant of a summons together with a copy of the complaint. A unique case number is assigned by the court when the papers are filed with the clerk. The case file for a particular action includes the original complaint or summons together with all legal papers subsequently filed in connection with the court proceeding through disposition or dismissal. Included are such documents as: depositions (or written testimony), demurrers (which are pleas for the dismissal of a lawsuit on the grounds that even if the statements of the opposition are true, they do not sustain the claim), interrogatories (a pretrial discovery tool in which written questions are propounded by one party and served to the adversary, who must answer by written replies made under oath), answers, counter claims, replies, motions, petitions, affidavits (written statements made under oath before an officer of the court, notary public, or other authorized person), stipulations (an agreement between attorneys that concerns business before a court and is designed to simplify, shorten, or settle litigation and save costs), exhibit documents (written contracts, bills, receipts, etc.), notices, objections, citations, sheriff's certificates, judge's orders and rulings, judge's instructions to the jury, judge's findings of fact and conclusions of law, final decrees, judgments, and executions (the process of carrying into effect a court's judgment, decree, or order).
Demurrers, pleas, and exceptions for insufficiency were abolished in 1953. Transcripts (an official and certified copy of what transpired in court or at an out-of-court deposition) and exhibits (items of real evidence) are not included in the case files.
Petitions for divorce are the predominant type of action in the civil case files. Suits to recover money are also common. These actions arise out of failure to honor promissory notes or other contract terms and non- payment of rent, lease payments, and court-ordered judgments. Attempts by plaintiffs to recover medical costs and lost income arising out of personal injury cases resulting from alleged carelessness or neglect appear frequently. These include traffic mishaps or accidents involving neighbors, employees, or business customers. Property cases include disputed ownership, damage, and contested improvements.
Legal actions include voluntary withdrawal or dissolution of corporations as well as petitions for a writ of habeas corpus (a court order requiring that a prisoner be brought before a judge to decide the legality of his detention or imprisonment). Court business (grand jury lists and reports, orders summoning persons to serve as jurors, various writs, etc.) have also been assigned civil case numbers.
According to statute, the district court has jurisdiction in all civil matters not excepted by the state constitution and not prohibited by law. During each calendar year the court is required to hold at least three terms at the county seat of each county within the district. The county clerk in each county serves as ex- officio clerk to the court and is responsible for maintaining the case files for actions arising in that county.
Responsibility for cases involving minimal monetary claims was reassigned to the newly created small claims departments of inferior courts in 1933. When inferior courts have original jurisdiction, the district court is limited to hearing appeals. Included are violations of city and town ordinances, as well as minor traffic laws, where a City Court or Justice of the Peace Court is established. Upon receipt of an appeal, the district court conducts a complete retrial of the case.
Numerical by case number.
Processing of this series was completed after all known microfilm holdings for historic civil case files were transferred to the Utah State Archives from the Seventh District Court of San Juan County, in April 2013. Original paper files were presumably destroyed after initial filming took place in the court in 1995. Archival processing of the physical records did not take place prior to filming and that should be noted if case files appear missing or out of order.
Researchers will note that the container list for this series contains two distinct runs of microfilm. The first (reels X to X) are 16 millimeter reels for which the Utah State Archives had both master and catalog copies (prior to the court sending all of its microfilm to the State Archives in April 2013). The second set of film (reels X to X) are a much older set of 35 millimeter reels, for which the Utah State Archives had no prior holdings (master or reference copies) prior to the court transferring its film. The decision was made to keep both sets of film in order to insure the ongoing survival of all available case files. In the event a researcher is unable to locate a specific case on the first set of microfilm they should consult the second set, which may fill in gaps.
Minute books from the District Court (Seventh District : San Juan County), Series 21847, contains the recorded minutes for civil cases heard by the court.
Civil registers of actions from the District Court (Seventh District : San Juan County), Series 26231, record the date any action was taken on a case.
Index to civil actions from the District Court (Seventh District : San Juan County), Series 26256, contains an index that can be used to obtain the case file numbers needed to access this series.
Judgment dockets from the District Court (Seventh District : San Juan County), Series 28248, contains the entire case file relating to the judgments issued in these docket books.
Judgment record books from the District Court (Seventh District : San Juan County), Series 28249, contains the entire case file cited in these books.
Court order books from the District Court (Seventh District : San Juan County), Series 28250, contains the compiled civil orders made by the court.
Abstract books from the District Court (Seventh District : San Juan County), Series 28251, contains abstracts of civil actions heard by the court.
Case file indexes from the District Court (Seventh District : San Juan County), Series 28268, contain civil indexes that can be used to access the case files in this series.
Microfilm holdings for historic probate case files that were maintained by the court were transferred to the Utah State Archives in April 2013.
This series is available on microfilm.
This series is classified as Public.
Cite the Utah State Archives and Records Service, the creating agency name, the series title, and the series number.
Gaps in Series
Cases 1434 to 1779 are missing and presumed lost.
This series was processed by Jim Kichas in June 2013.
Indexes: Civil case indexes that can used to access this series are maintained in series 28268.
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