The commonwealth court system’s administrative wing is seeking input on proposed amendments to the policy concerning electronically stored records in the judiciary’s case management systems.
The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts made the announcement in a Feb. 6 news release.
“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,” Court Administrator Zygmont A. Pines said in a statement.
The most significant proposed amendment, the release states, concerns magisterial district court civil and landlord/tenant cases on the judiciary’s website that contain the litigants’ full addresses in an effort to distinguish the individuals from others with similar names in densely populated areas.
Birthdates and other personal “identifiers” are not traditionally included in these types of case filings. All other cases aside from the aforementioned ones will continue being posted online with the partial addresses of litigants – in this case municipality, state and Zip Code – since those cases have birthdate information, which can help distinguish people with similar names, the news release states.
Other proposed amendments to case filings as being recommended by the AOPC include having the judiciary’s Electronic Case Record Public Access Policy exclude access to images of documents filed and stored in state court management systems, and releasing additional case data if the request meets “approved academic, government and professional standards,” and the information does not identify specific people or pose safety or security risks to individuals, the news release states.
The AOPC will seek input on the proposed changes during a 30-day public comment period that will end on March 5. The full list of proposed changes can be viewed at www.pacourts.us.
Pines, the state court administrator, said in his statement that members of the public last year accessed more than 39 million magisterial district, Common Pleas and appellate court records for free.
“In addition, the AOPC provided 397 customized bulk court records to government entities for free,” he said.