On January 6, 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted a new policy addressing access to trial and appellate court records throughout Pennsylvania. This policy will go into effect on January 6, 2018. It addresses who can access certain court records, and restricts certain types of information from being accessed at all.
There is a general presumption that most court records are open to the public, with several exceptions. Historically, the only way to access court records was to go down to the courthouse to access the files that you wanted to see. However, because more and more counties are making dockets and docket entries available to the general public online, along with concerns about privacy and identity theft, there is a growing need to address what type of information is available to the general public.
This new policy addresses the accessibility of records by the public, including how to obtain records and the fees associated with these records. The policy delineates what information is available at the courthouse, online, or not at all. Additionally, the policy addresses what information the filing party needs to redact before filing a document that may be available to the public and types of confidential documents which cannot be made available to the public at all. Significantly, all filing parties must certify that they have complied the provisions of the Public Access Policy, and may be sanctioned if they don’t.
On documents that contain Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, driver’s license numbers, children’s names and birthdates, and information about abuse victims, a redacted and an unredacted version will now need to be filed, so that a viewing party only sees the redacted version. Counties may opt to implement a different procedure, which will involve filing a Confidential Information Form along with a redacted pleading. The Confidential Information Form would be submitted along with the filing.
The Bryn Mawr family law attorneys at Vetrano | Vetrano & Feinman make it their mission to stay informed about all new changes in the laws and procedures of the State of Pennsylvania, and are sensitive to clients’ wishes to keep certain information as private as possible. We take all necessary steps to ensure that your private information and court records remain private to the extent of the law, and we can address specific concerns on a case by case basis. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with a family law attorney
Our experienced family lawyers take the time to fully understand the financial and emotional complexities that can be involved in separating two lives. We offer the patience and resources to effectively guide clients through a divorce, addressing all the challenges they may face in moving forward with their lives. To learn more about how we can help protect your rights and interests in a complex divorce, contact the Pennsylvania divorce attorneys at Vetrano | Vetrano & Feinman LLC.