March - 2012
Fee Increase Likely for
Washington State Driving Records
Engrossed House Bill 2660 has passed both the House and
Senate in the Washington State legislation and is now waiting the governor's
signature. The bill increases the fee for a driving record, vehicle certificate
of ownership, certain vehicle license plates, and vehicle dealer licenses. The
fee for an abstract would increase from $10.00 to $13.00 per record - note this
is a compromise as the original bill had the fee set at $15.00. If the bill is
signed by the governor (or if not vetoed by March 31, 2012), all fee increases
will take place effective October 1, 2012.
Luis Obispo County, CA
Per PRRN Member Judith Smith,
the Executive Director of the San Luis Obispo Superior Court - Ms. Susan
Matherly - has simply had enough. Ms. Matherly has had it with all the public
record search firms hired by employers to check criminal records of local
residents that apply for jobs. On March 14th she announced at a local Bar
Association luncheon that she was shutting down the public access terminal to
background screening firms. And on Monday March 19th she did it. The
IT staff removed the public access computer and put it in a locked
room to be accessible only by attorneys and their investigators.
To better understand Ms.
Matherly's logic, consider the following summarized statements she also made at
the March 14th luncheon, as reported by Ms. Smith:
- Public access information was never intended for background screeners.
Background screening companies just make people not get hired.
- Employers shouldn't be using background screening companies, but rather
should be using the DOJ/LiveScan [the FBI].
- There are penal codes stating that the type of research that background
screening researchers are doing is illegal. [But she refused to mention what
these laws are.]
- Background screening companies and researchers are not trained to know what
they are doing.
- There is no identifying information in the computer to know if a researcher
has indentified the correct person. [Note: The terminal does display a full name
and the DOB.]
At present according to
Judith Smith, Ms Matherly has instructed the Superior Court Clerks to do the
- Only attorneys and their investigators now have access to the locked room
where the public access computer with access to the public records now resides.
- Clerks are not allowed to provide dockets to anyone except to the defendant
or their attorney of record.
- Record searchers may only provide clerks with 10 names a day.
- Clerks may only provide very limited information (for
free) if there is only one recent case. Only data provided are the case #,
violation and disposition date, the charge and disposition for convictions. If a
charge was dismissed the clerk will not inform the requester. Also, no
information is provided on sentencing or parole violations. However, the
researcher can obtain this information for a $15.00 fee.
- If a subject name has more than one case, the clerks will only provide the
case numbers. The researchers then must order each file to review for a $15.00
fee per case.
For those interested:
Judith Smith can be reached
The presiding judge and Ms.
Matherly's supervisor is Judge Barry LaBarbera.
Ms. Matherly can be reached
Director, Superior Court
Obispo, CA 93408
- PACER Goes to $.10 a Page on April 1st
The Federal Court System
provides public access to court case information via the Public Access to Court
Electronic Records (PACER) system. Effective April 1, 2012, the fee to
electronically access information will increase from $.08 to $.10 per
However, it should be noted
that PACER users who do not accrue charges of more than $15 in a quarterly
billing cycle would not be charged a fee. The pre-April 2012 exemption is $10
per quarter. PACER documentation indicates that this expanded exemption means 75
to 80 percent of all users will still pay no fees. See www.pacer.gov/.
South Dakota Raises Fee for
Court Record Searches
On March 20, 2012, the
South Dakota Governor signed HB 1058. The new law will increase search fees
charged to view or obtain Circuit Court records. The current $15.00 fee will
increase to $20.00 as of Jan. 1, 2013, but the fee would return to $15.00
effective July 1, 2017. (HB1058 was actually a compromise - the original bill
had an increase of $10.00.) The additional funds will be used to offset last
year's budget cuts and to support an upgrade of the court's computerized case
The $20.00 fee is for a
search of statewide criminal and civil records, and also is applicable for local
onsite requests to check individual court case files. View the bill
Pending New Jersey Bill Will
Increase Many Court Fees
NJ Bill A763 was passed by
the NJ State Assembly and now is making its way to the State Senate. In general,
the bill contains fee increases that include (but are not limited to) the fee to
file motions (papers) in the courts; the recording of judgments or orders in the
Special Civil Part; the fee to affix a seal, or certify a copy or for an
exemplification; and the fee to file a lien. The bill also authorizes the
Judiciary to fund a statewide digital e-court information system which would
include public access to digital court records. Indication from the bill's
primary sponsor is the Senate and the Governor both favor the bill's current
language. If and when signed, the new law would take affect July 1,
For more information, visit
the state's legislative site at www.njleg.state.nj.us/ and
search for bill number A763.
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