Title 255—LOCAL COURT RULES
Local Rule of Judicial Administration; Case Records Public Access Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania; Civil Doc. No. 17-5120; Criminal Doc. No. MD-1545-17
[48 Pa.B. 4234]
[Saturday, July 21, 2018]
Whereas, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has recently amended its past adopted Public Access Policy (the ''Policy'') of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania: Case Records of Appellate and Trial Courts,1 which applies to all court records, including civil, family, criminal, Orphans' Court; minor courts' matter; and
Whereas, the Policy establishes uniform standards for all appellate and trial courts in responding to requests from the public for case records; and
Whereas, the Policy is built upon the principle that court records are open for inspection by the public while maintaining appropriate boundaries for the protection of individuals who come into the court system; and
Whereas, the Policy provides access protocols for sensitive information which might be found in case files, including the following:
1. Where applicable authority requires information listed in Section 7.00(A) of the Public Access Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania to appear on certain documents, the Public Access Policy does not apply. Otherwise, certain types of information set forth in Section 7.00(A) (''Confidential Information''), cannot be included in court filings, but instead must be identified to the court on a separate form, called a Confidential Information Form (the ''CIF'') and attached to the filing. The CIF is not available to the public. Alternatively, a court may require a party to file two versions of every document—a redacted and unredacted version. The unredacted version is not available to the public. Following as Exhibit ''A'' is the ''CIF.''
2. Certain documents set forth in Section 8.00 of the Public Access Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania must be filed with a Confidential Document Form (the ''CDF''), such as Financial Documents. While the CDF which describes the document is available to the public, the underlying document is not. The ''CDF'' form follows as Exhibit ''B.''
3. The forms shall be available in each filing office as well as on the Court and OJS websites at http://www.co.delaware.pa.us/.
4. Certain cases are not accessible to the public because there is no method to ensure that all of the sensitive information contained in the case file can be redacted before permitting public access.
5. Certain Information is only accessible at the courthouse and not online.
6. A certification shall be filed on every document filed with a court or custodian. The Certificate of Compliance Form follows as Exhibit ''C.''
And Now, this 26th day of June, 2018, it is hereby ordered and decreed that the following policy regarding access to case records, is hereby adopted effective July 1, 2018. It is further ordered and decreed that the local rule Public Access Policy signed on December 7th, 2017 and effective on January 6th, 2018, is hereby rescinded, effective July 1st, 2018.
1. Relationship to the Policy.
This Local Rule of Judicial Administration shall be known as the Delaware County Public Access Policy Local Rule, and is intended to conform procedure and practice in the Courts operating within the 32nd Judicial District to the Public Access Policy adopted by the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania concerning case records (''the Policy'').
''Confidential Information'' is all information identified in Section 7 of the Public Access Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, and to conform with the schedule following as Exhibit ''D,'' which identifies Limits of Public Access to the Unified Judicial System Case Records (''Limits of Public Access Matrix'').
''Confidential Document'' is all documents identified in Section 8 of the Public Access Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania.
All remaining definitions are addressed in section 1.0 of the State Public Access Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania and are incorporated herein by reference.
3. Compliance/Appropriate Sanctions.
Compliance with the Delaware County Public Access Policy Local Rule including the Limits of Public Access Schedule is the responsibility of litigants and attorneys, each of whom shall be responsible for safeguarding Confidential Information and Confidential Documents. Those litigants and attorneys who are found to have failed to comply with this local rule shall be subject to the imposition of appropriate sanctions.
4. Responding to Requests for Access to Case Records
A custodian shall fulfill a request for access to case records as promptly as possible under the circumstances existing at the time of the request. If the request is unable to be fulfilled promptly or at all, the custodian shall inform the requestor of the specific reasons why access to the information is being delayed and/or denied. If a request is denied, the denial shall be in writing. A Request For Access Form follows and marked as Exhibit ''E.''
5. Orphans' Court Division.
For all Orphans' Court matters, all ''Confidential Information'' as defined in Section 7.0 of the Policy which is to be filed with any Case Record, shall be set forth on the Confidential Information Form. Such policy is subject to change upon Order of Court, which could direct (among other things) that a redacted version of any document be produced.
6. Civil Section and Family Section.
For all Civil and Family matters, any filing containing Confidential Information, not required by applicable authority to appear in the document, shall be redacted and accompanied by a Confidential Information Form (CIF), and only the redacted version will be accessible by the public. Any filing of a Confidential Document shall be accompanied by a Confidential Document Form (CDF) and only the CDF will be accessible by the public. As to all Family matters, on-line remote access is limited to the Docket. The presiding judge, upon application of a litigant or attorney or acting sua sponte, retains the right to require filing in a redacted/unredacted form.
7. Criminal Section.
For all Criminal matters, any filing containing Confidential Information, not required by applicable authority to appear in the document, shall be redacted and accompanied by a Confidential Information Form (CIF), and only the redacted version will be accessible by the public. Any filing of a Confidential Document shall be accompanied by a Confidential Document Form (CDF), and only the CDF will be accessible by the public. Additionally, all confidentiality provisions regarding Juvenile Court proceedings shall continue to comply with the Juvenile Act. The presiding judge, upon application of a litigant or attorney or acting sua sponte, retains the right to require filing in a redacted/unredacted form.
8. Magisterial District Courts
a. Magisterial District Courts
For all Magisterial District Court matters, any filing containing Confidential Information, not required by applicable authority to appear in the document, shall be redacted and accompanied by a Confidential Information Form (CIF), and only the redacted version will be accessible by the public. Any filing of a Confidential Document shall be accompanied by a Confidential Document Form (CDF), and only the CDF will be accessible by the public. If a filed document fails to comply with the requirements of this section, a Magisterial District Court may, upon request or its own initiative, with or without a hearing order the filed document redacted, amended or both.
b. Public Access
When desiring to inspect or copy case records, an oral or written request must be made to the applicable custodian. Requests shall identify or describe the records sought with specificity to enable the custodian to ascertain which records are being requested. If the information that is the subject of a request is complex or voluminous, the custodian may require a written request. The custodian may also designate an individual to monitor access to ensure the integrity of the case records is maintained.
Fees for the duplication by photocopying or printing from electronic media or microfilm will be $0.25 per page. All Fee schedules for the Magisterial District Court shall be publicly posted in an area accessible to the public.
d. Relief from Denial
Relief from a denial by a Magisterial District Court may be sought by filing a written appeal within ten (10) business days of a denial to the Deputy Administrator, Special Courts, 100 N. Front Street, Media, Pa. 19063. Within twenty (20) business days, the Deputy Administrator, Special Courts shall make a determination and forward it in writing to the requestor. Any further appeal shall be subject to Chapter 15, Judicial review of Government Determinations, of the Rule of Appellate Procedure.
9. Corrections of Clerical Errors in Case Record
A Party, or the party's attorney, seeking to correct a Clerical Error in a case record may submit a Request for Correction of Clerical Error to the Custodian which follows as Exhibit ''F.''
All requests shall be in writing on the form designated by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. The requestor shall specifically describe within the request the alleged Clerical Error and shall provide sufficient facts, including supporting documentation, to corroborate the allegation of Clerical Error. The requestor shall provide copies of the request to each party in the case.
Within 10 business days of its receipt of the request, the Custodian shall reply in writing to the requestor and each party in the case, selecting one of the following responses:
a. The request does not contain sufficient facts to determine the information alleged to be in error, and no further action will be taken in the reply to the request;
b. The request does not concern a Case Record which is subject to this policy, and no further action will be taken on the request;
c. A Clerical Error does exist in the Case Record and the Clerical Error in question has been corrected;
d. A Clerical Error does not exist in the Case Record; or
e. The request has been received and an additional period not exceeding 30 business days is necessary to complete a review of the request.
The requestor and each party in the case may seek review of the Custodian's reply under subsections 9(a)—(d) of this Local Rule of Judicial Administration within 10 business days of the mailing date of the Custodian's Reply. The Request For Review of Custodian's Reply shall be made on the form designated by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. The Request For Review shall be considered by the judge(s) who presided over the case. However, if the Request For Review concerns a Magisterial District Court's decision, it shall be reviewed by the Special Court Administrator in accordance with previously listed 8(d).
10. Motions to Seal Court Records.
This Public Access Policy Local Rule in no way alters the ability and authority of the Court, upon application of a litigant or attorney or acting sua sponte, to seal a record or any portion of a record for reasons not inconsistent with the Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania.
11. Public Accessibility to Case Records.
Accessibility of all case record information by the public shall be governed by the following Limits of Public Access Matrix. (Follows as Exhibit 'C'.) Please note that certain case record information is inaccessible, while other case record information may be publicly accessible at the courthouse but not accessible online.
By the Court
KEVIN F. KELLY,
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 18-1106. Filed for public inspection July 20, 2018, 9:00 a.m.]
1 The Policy was initially promulgated by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania under such an administrative order dated January 6, 2017. See Order dated January 6, 2017 No. 477—Judicial Administration Docket. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania more recently amended the Policy via its administrative order of March 28, 2018, to include within the Policy's scope all minor courts (E.g. Magisterial District Courts) and relatedly rescinded as of July 1, 2018, the Public Access Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania: Official Case Records of the Magisterial District Courts. See Order dated March 28, 2018, No. 496—Judicial Administration Docket.
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