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How to Find Out if Someone Has Been Sued, Convicted, or is on a Sex Offender List?

Do you want to do a “background check” on an employer (individual or corporation), a future or current partner, an employee, a “friend,” or a colleague?
FIRST and FOREMOST: Keep your expectations realistic.  If you expect to find all the data you are seeking in one place, one database, one website, or one-anything, you are gravely mistaken.
We just got a copy of “Wanted! U.S. Cirminal Records: Sources & Research Methodology,” by Ron Arons.  (There are other books on researching public records, too.  They will cure you of any illusion that searching public (and private) records is for the faint-hearted.)
SECOND, Check the state’s court records databases and, if you’re researching a business, with the state’s attorney general’s office. You could check those here in Oregon (or other state), but you will also want to check the records in the state where the company is headquartered or incorporated and in other states where it does business.
To check if any lawsuits have been filed in Oregon, you can visit any county circuit courthouse and ask for the public OJIN workstation. Staff will be able to assist you.
The Oregon State Attorney General’s website has contact information.
If you’re searching for lawsuits against a business, you can also check at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website
You will need to check in other states to see if any suits have been filed in states other than Oregon.
IMPORTANT: If you use any online public records databases, read the PI Buzz blog post following up on their Due Diligence one as a start.  If you’re inclined to read more about searching public records, follow the links.
THIRD: If any suits have been filed in federal court, you’ll need to find a library with access to PACER or visit a federal courthouse. There are several in Oregon (e.g. courthouse directory).
FOURTH: As for those Sex Offender databases, in Oregon and for beyond, check the FBI Sex Offender Registry website.
LAST, BUT NOT LEAST: Consider hiring a professional investigator.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for research purposes only.  We do not provide legal advice, nor do we endorse any person, product, or company.
Disclaimer: It is against state law for library staff members to engage in any conduct that might constitute the unauthorized practice of law (ORS 9.160, 9.166 and 9.21).  They may not interpret statutes, cases or regulations, perform legal research, recommend or assist in the preparation of forms, or advise patrons regarding their legal rights.  They may, however, assist patrons in locating materials or links that would aid in individual research.

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