Public Record Update
September 2014
Los Angeles Superior Court

Over the next several months, the Los Angeles Superior Court is installing a new telephone system. As a result, the telephone numbers will change for 35 courthouses (except numbers for Juror Services and traffic inquiry). The first change is scheduled September 16th for the Inglewood Courthouse and Inglewood Juvenile Courthouse. To track the changes as they occur, refer to this web page: www.lasuperiorcourt.org/locations/ui/listbyname.aspx

Maine is Making Critical Changes to Court Record Access

The Maine Judicial Branch is in the process of implementing a new procedure for Civil and Criminal record requests. Walk-in requests for these searches at the individual courts eventually will no longer be available. The process for record searches at all courts/counties is being moved to the Judicial Branch Service Center in Lewiston, Maine. At this time, the York County Superior Court and the Springvale District Court are participating in a Pilot Program. All courts will be incrementally brought into the program by the end of this year.

Here is a link to a detailed explanation and the new request form which must be used: www.courts.maine.gov/fees_forms/forms/pdf_forms/misc/records.shtml

Some Questions and Answers

The data on the link above refers anyone with questions to Ms. Kimberly Mitchell (Senior Service Center Associate at the Maine Judicial Branch). The page includes her phone number and email address.

PRRN Member Nils Nelson (Maine Public Record Services) was able to obtain some detailed information from Ms. Mitchell. Mr. Nelson is graciously sharing this information - below.

  1. There is no place on the form to request a specific county or court to be searched. So, when all courts are brought into the program, is it a statewide search?

    ANSWER: At this time, it is anticipated that each court will be listed on the form, and the requester will need to indicate which court(s) they would like to perform the search in. It is possible that there will be a selection to indicate all Maine State Courts, once all courts are brought into the process.

    If you do not yet have the updated copy of the form being utilized for the pilot program, you can obtain a copy by clicking here [link shown above]
  2. If the requester is notified of "hits" on a civil or criminal record, do you provide the case number?

    ANSWER: Yes, the docket number (case number) will be provided if any cases are located within the parameters requested.
  3. Can the requester go to the court of record and obtain the copies, or will the service center be the only resort for copies?

    ANSWER: The requester can still go to the appropriate clerk's office (court) to obtain copies, especially if the copies needed are pleadings, since the actual file will remain at the clerk's office (unless the case in question has been sent to archives).
  4. There is no place on the form to specify plaintiff/defendant or defendant search only. Will you be reporting everything found?

    ANSWER: For each name requested to be researched, we will be providing information for all non-confidential cases found within the parameters requested (i.e. criminal, civil, or both), whether the person is the plaintiff or defendant. At this time, we are not providing the detail as to whether the person is the plaintiff or defendant in a civil matter (they would always be the defendant in a criminal matter).
  5. There is no place on the form to specify open/closed or open only. Again, will you be reporting everything found?

    ANSWER:Yes, we will be reporting all non-confidential cases found, whether they are open or closed, and will be indicating the status of the case with the results. There is a space on the required request form that the court will use to report the results.

It appears the agency is set on converting to a mail-in system using a specific form. A logical observation is this could result is a massive paper tunnel with probable delays for those with critical public record search needs.

Record Copies at the U.S. District Court in Columbia SC

Effective September 1, 2014, the U.S. District Court in Columbia, South Carolina will require that all copy requests for court records (and jury lists) must be processed by a designated vendor: Copy Pickup. The firm's phone number is 803-799-2679, email them here. (The firm would not disclose their fee over the phone, for the purpose of this article.)

This court's coverage are includes these counties: Bamberg, Calhoun, Chester, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lancaster, Lee, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter, and York.

www.CriminalRecordSources.com

BRB Publications has launched a new, powerful web page - www.CriminalRecordSources.com. This authoritative resource (CRS) provides in-depth information and resources about the access and use of criminal records.

Note this is not a site selling criminal records- this is a site with informative and objective facts about searching criminal records.

The free content includes:

  • Links to thousands of sources with searchable criminal records,
  • Lists of vendors, including onsite researchers, statewide search firms, gateways and data aggregators.
  • Definitive articles and factual information regarding accuracy, compliance, the use of national databases, terminology, and much more.

Also, there is an inexpensive subscription service offered with much more extensive details. Among the many features provided is an equivalency table - a state-by-state evaluation of online criminal record access from the judicial statewide systems and the state repositories. The table indicates if the online site is equivalent or not to an onsite search, and why.

PACER Removes Records from System

This may be old news for some, but last month PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) removed approximately 10 years of federal court dockets and documents. Courts affected are the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 2nd, 7th, 11th, and Federal Circuits, plus the Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California.

The act of deleting the records is part of an upgrade to a new computer system for PACER. Most of the cases involved are pre-2011. Reportedly the cases file documents are still available in paper format, if existing, from the Archives.

To Our Readers...

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Our Resources:
Public Record Retriever Network - www.PRRN.us
The CRA Help Desk - www.CRAHelpDesk.com
BRB's Free Public Record Center - www.brbpublications.com/PubRecSites.aspx
Motor Vehicle Record Decoder - www.MVRDecoder.com
BRB's Public Record Blog - www.publicrecordsblog.net
BRB's Bookstore - www.brbpublications.com/books/

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