Monday, February 6, 2012

Court Office Seeks Input on Proposed Changes to Judiciary’s Policy Governing Electronic Case Records

HARRISBURG, February 6, 2011–The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) is seeking input regarding proposed amendments to the policy governing electronic records stored in the Judiciary’s case management systems and made available online at no charge.

“The proposed amendments expand the Supreme Court’s long-standing tradition of providing online access to court records while recognizing appropriate restrictions on personal data that could jeopardize an individual’s privacy and safety or subject them to identity theft,” said Court Administrator of Pennsylvania Zygmont A. Pines. 

            The most significant proposed change is to begin posting magisterial district court civil and landlord/tenant cases on the Judiciary’s web site with the full addresses of the litigants to help distinguish them from individuals with similar names in densely populated areas.  Dates of birth and other personal identifiers are not included in these case filings. 

All other cases will continue being posted online with the litigant’s partial address (city, state and zip code) because those cases have date of birth information which can help distinguish individuals with similar names. 

  The AOPC is also recommending that the Judiciary’s Electronic Case Record Public Access Policy exclude access to images of documents filed and stored in the state court case management systems.  Another amendment will allow the AOPC to release additional case data if the request meets approved academic, government and professional standards, and the information released does not identify specific individuals or present a risk to personal security and privacy.

Beginning with a notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on Saturday, February 4, the AOPC is seeking comment regarding the proposed policy amendments for a 30-day period that ends March 5.  The amendments can be viewed at the Pennsylvania Judiciary’s Public Access web page where visitors can also email comments regarding the proposal. 

“Last year the public accessed more than 39 million magisterial district, Common Pleas and appellate court case records online at no charge,” Pines said.  “In addition, the AOPC provided 397 customized bulk court reports to government entities for free.”

The public can search the individual case docket sheets Judiciary’s web site at by court, case category and status, docket number and type, county and participant name and date of birth, and date filed. 

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