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Court records started to become available from 1842. The Kingdom's courts were divided into 5 Circuits.
- Oahu (1st Circuit)
- Maui (2nd Circuit)
- Hawai'i (3rd & 4th Circuit)
- Kauai (5th Circuit)
Probate records, such as wills, will most likely have the most genealogical information. These cases were often times filed many years after the death of a family member, so the date of filing does not always correspond with the date of death. Sometimes, residents of other islands filed probates in the First Circuit court. Genealogical information may be found in other types of cases, such as Civil, Law, Equity (which may include disputes over land titles), and Divorce.
The Research Process
Court records are located at the Hawai'i State Archives and the Circuit Courts. For more historical court cases, begin with the indexes for historical court cases. For more contemporary court cases, begin with the online court case databases.
Where can you find all this information?
Generally, case records prior to 1900 are in the State Archives and later records in the Circuit Courts. UH Mānoa's Hawaiian Collection has print indexes available for historical court cases. Once you find a court case you want from those indexes, you will then need to then go to the Hawai'i State Archives or Circuit Courts to locate the case files and minutes.
Indexes for Historical Court Cases
Indexes of Court Cases, 1845-1893
1. Law (civil) cases indexes.
2. Criminal case indexes
3. Circuit and Supreme Court divorce case and remarriage petition indexes. Governor's divorce cases and remarriage petitions.
***Case Files & Minute Books are at the Hawaii State Archives
Index to Circuit Court Cases, 1840-1905
1. Criminal index, 1st series, 184- to Jan. 1, 1900
2. Equity index, 1st series, 1848-Jan. 1, 1900
3. Law index, 1st series, 1848 to 1900
4. Law index, 2d series, 1899-1905
5. Probate index, 1st series, 1845-1900.
Index to Circuit Court Cases, 1851-June 1908
1. Criminal Division, 2d ser., Jan. 1, 1901 to June 30, 1908
2. Divorce Division, 1st ser., from 1851 to June 1908
3. Equity Division, 2d ser., from 1901 to June 1908
4. Law Division, 3d ser., from 1901 to June 1908
5. Probate Division, 2d ser., from 1901 to June 1908.
Contemporary Court Cases
eCourt Kokua: For access to cases in the Traffic Division of the District Court of the State of Hawai'i, the Hawai'i Intermediate Court of Appeals, and the Hawai'i Supreme Court.
Ho'ohiki: For access to criminal and civil case information filed in the Circuit and Family courts and certain civil cases of the District Courts.
Windward Community College Library