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2017 California Rules of Court

Rule 8.83. Public access

(a) General right of access

All electronic records must be made reasonably available to the public in some form, whether in electronic or in paper form, except sealed or confidential records.

(b) Electronic access required to extent feasible

(1)Electronic access, both remote and at the courthouse, will be provided to the following court records, except sealed or confidential records, to the extent it is feasible to do so:

(A)Dockets or registers of actions;

(B)Calendars;

(C)Opinions; and

(D)The following Supreme Court records:

i. Results from the most recent Supreme Court weekly conference;

ii. Party briefs in cases argued in the Supreme Court for at least the preceding three years;

iii. Supreme Court minutes from at least the preceding three years.

(2)If a court maintains records in civil cases in addition to those listed in (1) in electronic form, electronic access to these records, except those listed in (c), must be provided both remotely and at the courthouse, to the extent it is feasible to do so.

(c) Courthouse electronic access only

If a court maintains the following records in electronic form, electronic access to these records must be provided at the courthouse, to the extent it is feasible to do so, but remote electronic access may not be provided to these records:

(1)Any reporter's transcript for which the reporter is entitled to receive a fee; and

(2)Records other than those listed in (b)(1) in the following proceedings:

(A)Proceedings under the Family Code, including proceedings for dissolution, legal separation, and nullity of marriage; child and spousal support proceedings; child custody proceedings; and domestic violence prevention proceedings;

(B)Juvenile court proceedings;

(C)Guardianship or conservatorship proceedings;

(D)Mental health proceedings;

(E)Criminal proceedings;

(F)Civil harassment proceedings under Code of Civil Procedure section 527.6;

(G)Workplace violence prevention proceedings under Code of Civil Procedure section 527.8;

(H)Private postsecondary school violence prevention proceedings under Code of Civil Procedure section 527.85;

(I)Elder or dependent adult abuse prevention proceedings under Welfare and Institutions Code section 15657.03; and

(J)Proceedings to compromise the claims of a minor or a person with a disability.

(d) Remote electronic access allowed in extraordinary cases

Notwithstanding (c)(2), the presiding justice of the court, or a justice assigned by the presiding justice, may exercise discretion, subject to (d)(1), to permit remote electronic access by the public to all or a portion of the public court records in an individual case if (1) the number of requests for access to documents in the case is extraordinarily high and (2) responding to those requests would significantly burden the operations of the court. An individualized determination must be made in each case in which such remote electronic access is provided.

(1)In exercising discretion under (d), the justice should consider the relevant factors, such as:

(A)The privacy interests of parties, victims, witnesses, and court personnel, and the ability of the court to redact sensitive personal information;

(B)The benefits to and burdens on the parties in allowing remote electronic access; and

(C)The burdens on the court in responding to an extraordinarily high number of requests for access to documents.

(2)The following information must be redacted from records to which the court allows remote access under (d): driver's license numbers; dates of birth; social security numbers; Criminal Identification and Information and National Crime Information numbers; addresses, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers of parties, victims, witnesses, and court personnel; medical or psychiatric information; financial information; account numbers; and other personal identifying information. The court may order any party who files a document containing such information to provide the court with both an original unredacted version of the document for filing in the court file and a redacted version of the document for remote electronic access. No juror names or other juror identifying information may be provided by remote electronic access. Subdivision (d)(2) does not apply to any document in the original court file; it applies only to documents that are made available by remote electronic access.

(3)Five days' notice must be provided to the parties and the public before the court makes a determination to provide remote electronic access under this rule. Notice to the public may be accomplished by posting notice on the court's website. Any person may file comments with the court for consideration, but no hearing is required.

(4)The court's order permitting remote electronic access must specify which court records will be available by remote electronic access and what categories of information are to be redacted. The court is not required to make findings of fact. The court's order must be posted on the court's website and a copy sent to the Judicial Council.

(e) Access only on a case-by-case basis

With the exception of the records covered by (b)(1), electronic access to an electronic record may be granted only when the record is identified by the number of the case, the caption of the case, the name of a party, the name of the attorney, or the date of oral argument, and only on a case-by-case basis.

(f) Bulk distribution

Bulk distribution may be provided only of the records covered by (b)(1).

(g) Records that become inaccessible

If an electronic record to which electronic access has been provided is made inaccessible to the public by court order or by operation of law, the court is not required to take action with respect to any copy of the record that was made by a member of the public before the record became inaccessible.

Rule 8.83 adopted effective January 1, 2016.

Advisory Committee Comment

The rule allows a level of access by the public to all electronic records that is at least equivalent to the access that is available for paper records and, for some types of records, is much greater. At the same time, it seeks to protect legitimate privacy concerns.

Subdivision (b). Courts should encourage availability of electronic access to court records at public off-site locations.

Subdivision (c). This subdivision excludes certain records (those other than the register, calendar, opinions, and certain Supreme Court records) in specified types of cases (notably criminal, juvenile, and family court matters) from remote electronic access. The committees recognized that while these case records are public records and should remain available at the courthouse, either in paper or electronic form, they often contain sensitive personal information. The court should not publish that information over the Internet. However, the committees also recognized that the use of the Internet may be appropriate in certain individual cases of extraordinary public interest where information regarding a case will be widely disseminated through the media. In such cases, posting of selected nonconfidential court records, redacted where necessary to protect the privacy of the participants, may provide more timely and accurate information regarding the court proceedings, and may relieve substantial burdens on court staff in responding to individual requests for documents and information. Thus, under subdivision (d), if the presiding justice makes individualized determinations in a specific case, certain records in individual cases may be made available over the Internet.

Subdivision (d). Courts must send a copy of the order permitting remote electronic access in extraordinary cases to: Legal Services, Judicial Council of California, 455 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102-3688.

Subdivisions (e) and (f). These subdivisions limit electronic access to records (other than the register, calendars, opinions, and certain Supreme Court records) to a case-by-case basis and prohibit bulk distribution of those records. These limitations are based on the qualitative difference between obtaining information from a specific case file and obtaining bulk information that may be manipulated to compile personal information culled from any document, paper, or exhibit filed in a lawsuit. This type of aggregate information may be exploited for commercial or other purposes unrelated to the operations of the courts, at the expense of privacy rights of individuals.

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