|     printer icon  Printer-friendly version of this page

2016 California Rules of Court

Rule 10.855. Superior court records sampling program

(a) Purpose

This rule establishes a program to preserve in perpetuity for study by historians and other researchers all superior court records filed before 1911 and a sample of superior court records filed after December 31, 1910, to document the progress and development of the judicial system, and to preserve evidence of significant events and social trends. This rule is not intended to restrict a court from preserving more records than the minimum required.

(Subd (a) amended effective January 1, 2007.)

(b) Scope

"Records" of the superior court, as used in this rule, does not include records of limited civil, small claims, misdemeanor, or infraction cases.

(Subd (b) adopted effective January 1, 2001.)

(c) Comprehensive and significant records

Each superior court must preserve forever comprehensive and significant court records as follows:

(1)All records filed before 1911;

(2)If practicable, all records filed after 1910 and before 1950;

(3)All case indexes; and

(4)All noncapital cases in which the California Supreme Court has issued a written opinion.

(Subd (c) amended effective July 1, 2016; adopted as subd (b); previously amended and relettered effective January 1, 2001; previously amended effective January 1, 2007.)

(d) Sample records

If a superior court destroys court records without preserving them in a medium described in (g), the court must preserve forever a sample of court records as provided by this rule of all cases, including sealed, expunged, and other confidential records to the extent permitted by law.

(Subd (d) amended effective July 1, 2016; adopted as subd (c); relettered effective January 1, 2001; previously amended effective January 1, 2007.)

(e) Court record defined

The "court record" under this rule consists of the following:

(1)All papers and documents in the case folder; but if no case folder is created by the court, all papers and documents that would have been in the case folder if one had been created; and

(2)The case folder, unless all information on the case folder is in papers and documents preserved in a medium described in (g); and

(3)If available, corresponding depositions, daily transcripts, and tapes of electronically recorded proceedings.

(Subd (e) amended effective July 1, 2016; adopted as subd (d); previously amended and relettered effective January 1, 2001; previously amended effective January 1, 2007.)

(f) Sampling technique

Three courts assigned in rotation by the Judicial Council must preserve the following:

(1)A random sample of 25 percent of their court records for a calendar year, with the exception of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, which must preserve a random sample of 10 percent of its court records for a calendar year.

(2)All judgment books, minute books, and registers of action if maintained separately from the case files, for the calendar year.

(Subd (f) amended effective July 1, 2016; adopted as subd (e); repealed, amended, and relettered effective January 1, 2001; previously amended effective January 1, 2007.)

(g) Preservation medium

(1)Comprehensive and significant court records under (c) filed before 1911 must be preserved in their original paper form unless the paper is not available.

(2)Comprehensive and significant court records under (c) filed after 1910 and sample records under (d) must be retained permanently in accord with the requirements of the Trial Court Records Manual.

(Subd (g) amended and relettered effective July 1, 2016; adopted as subd (h); previously amended effective January 1, 2001, January 1, 2007, and January 1, 2011.)

(h) Access

The court must ensure the following:

(1)The comprehensive, significant, and sample court records are made reasonably available to all members of the public.

(2)Sealed and confidential records are made available to the public only as provided by law.

(3)If the records are preserved in a medium other than paper, equipment is provided to permit public viewing of the records.

(4)Reasonable provision is made for duplicating the records at cost.

(Subd (h) amended and relettered effective July 1, 2016; adopted as subd (j); previously amended effective January 1, 2007.)

(i) Storage

(1)Until statewide or regional archival facilities are established, each court is responsible for maintaining its comprehensive, significant, and sample court records in a secure and safe environment consistent with the archival significance of the records. The court may deposit the court records in a suitable California archival facility such as a university, college, library, historical society, museum, archive, or research institution whether publicly supported or privately endowed. The court must ensure that the records are kept and preserved according to commonly recognized archival principles and practices of preservation.

(2)If a local archival facility is maintaining the court records, the court may continue to use that facility's services if it meets the storage and access requirements under (h) and (i)(1). If the court solicits archival facilities interested in maintaining the comprehensive, significant, and sample court records, the court must follow the procedures specified under rule 10.856, except that the comprehensive, significant, and sample court records must not be destroyed. Courts may enter into agreements for long-term deposit of records subject to the storage and access provisions of this rule.

(Subd (i) amended and relettered effective July 1, 2016; adopted as subd (k); previously amended effective January 1, 1994, January 1, 2001, and January 1, 2007.)

(j) Reporting requirement

Each superior court must submit semiannually to the Judicial Council a Report to the Judicial Council: Superior Court Records Destroyed, Preserved, and Transferred (form REC-003), including the following information:

(1)A list by year of filing of the court records destroyed;

(2)A list by year of filing and location of the court records of the comprehensive and sample court records preserved; and

(3)A list by year of filing and location of the court records transferred to entities under rule 10.856.

(Subd (j) amended and relettered effective July 1, 2016; adopted as subd (l); previously amended effective January 1, 1994, January 1, 1995, January 1, 2001; January 1, 2007, and July 1, 2013.)

(k) Application

The sampling program provided in this rule, as amended effective July 1, 2016, applies retroactively to all superior courts.

(Subd (k) adopted effective July 1, 2016.)

Rule 10.855 amended effective July 1, 2016; adopted as rule 243.5 effective July 1, 1992; previously amended and renumbered as rule 6.755 effective January 1, 2001, and as rule 10.855 January 1, 2007; previously amended effective January 1, 1994, January 1, 1995, January 1, 2011, and July 1, 2013.

Advisory Committee Comment

Subdivision (c)(4). Capital cases are excluded under subdivision (c)(4) because these cases have an automatic right of appeal to the California Supreme Court, and trial court records are retained permanently under Government Code section 68152(c)(1) if the defendant is sentenced to death. Each year, the Judicial Council will make available to the superior courts a list of all noncapital cases in which the California Supreme Court has issued a written opinion.

Subdivision (k). Because the destruction of court records is discretionary, all courts may elect to apply the rule retroactively and destroy court records that are not required to be preserved under subdivisions (c), (d), and (f), but they are not required to do so.

Superior courts that destroyed court records under the prior sampling rule may have preserved only 10 percent of their records (formerly known as the "systematic sample") for the year that they are now assigned to preserve the sample defined in subdivision (f). Except for the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, these courts would not be able to meet the requirement in subdivision (f)(1). So long as these courts continue preserving the 10-percent sample for their assigned year, they will be deemed to have satisfied subdivision (f)(1).

[ Back to Top ]