Great article in the ResourceShelf this morning, pointing to a number of free online resources where you can find various state court records and information about the court system in state jurisdictions.
The "Resource of the Week" is Court Records Free Reference and Directory offering links to states' courts. Click on the state you are interested in and you will be taken to an excellent web guide to that state’s court system. They also blog about state courts.
A more general public records site is a Free Public Records Directory, with information about many types of public records. All links indicate whether online public records searches are available for free, as paid services, or not available online. If it isn't online, they provide contact information for the appropriate agency. It also has a blog & discussion forum organized by state.
And A Journalist’s Guide to the Federal Courts has great information geared towards finding the best information sources. There are descriptions of court procedure and "key players", and a glossary of terms.