On Tuesday, October 18, 2016, the Colorado Supreme Court adopted changes to Chief Justice Directive 05-01, “Directive Concerning Access to Court Records.” The changes to this Chief Justice Directive were proposed by the Public Access Committee, and they replace previous public access policies. The changes include clarification of wording that was causing confusion, a mandate that court records involving a child victim be redacted before being released to the public, inclusion of applications for public defenders, court-appointed counsel, or guardians ad litem as not accessible to the public, and changes to Appendix C for consistency purposes. The full Chief Justice Directive is available here.
Two of the Colorado Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Directives were amended last week. CJD 85-02, regarding wiretap reports, was updated on March 31, 2016, to include the location of the electronic wiretap form on the United States Court website, provide updated information for submission to the U.S. courts, and to clarify that all applications and extensions are to be reported whether granted or denied.
CJD 05-01, regarding access to court records, was revised on April 1, 2016, based on the review of a subcommittee of Public Access Committee members. The revisions to CJD 05-01 were substantial. A summary of the most substantial changes is reprinted here:
Section 3.00: General Provisions
• Section 3.00 was expanded to include additional definitions of common terms used in this policy.
• Section 3.01 defines the Department’s Case Management System (CMS) as all Department information systems designed to capture, monitor, and track court and probation content.
• Section 3.02 defines the role of the State Court Administrator, Clerks of Court, and Chief Probation Officers as custodians of court records. This Section also states that Clerks of Court are responsible for assigning document or case security levels.
• Section 3.03 provides the definition of “court record” for purposes of this policy. Section 3.03(a)(2) was added to clarify that any records related to a defendant or probationer that are created, collected, received, and maintained by a probation department are court records.
Section 4.40: Access to Aggregate and Compiled Data from Court Records
• Section 4.40(a)(2)(ii) was added to allow (but not require) requests for compiled or aggregate data specific to one judicial district to be submitted to, prepared by, and released from that judicial district. Data requests specific to one judicial district may also be submitted to, prepared by, and released from SCAO.
• Section 4.40(a)(4) was added to clarify that all reports generated from the Department’s CMS constitute compiled or aggregate data. If a request is made to release these reports outside of the Department, all provisions of CJD 05-01 must be met. This includes all reports created through COGNOS, and management reports generated through ICON/Eclipse/JPOD, etc.
• Section 4.40(f)(4) was added to recognize the need of interagency teams/Best Practice Teams to share information within the team that includes personally identifiable data, and to require the use of a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the protection and use of data.
Section 4.60: Court Records Excluded from Public Access
• Section 4.60(b)(7) was amended to add Probate protected proceedings case types to those case classes/types that are not accessible to the public unless the court orders otherwise.
• Section 4.60(d) was amended to alphabetically list records that are not accessible to the public without a court order.
• Additional records were added to the list, including: (1) Audio/Video recordings collected, received, and maintained by the Court; (7) Domestic Relations Memoranda of Understanding, and Qualified Domestic Relations Orders; (19) Medical marijuana registry application or card; (20) Motion for Informa Pauperis; and (21) National Crime Information Center (NCIC) or Colorado Crime Information Center (CCIC) printed reports.
• Criminal history records checks were removed from this list.
• Section 4.60(e)(6) was amended to clarify that Social Security Numbers (SSNs), including partial SSNs, are to be redacted from pleadings or documents prior to being released.
• Section 4.60(e)(7) was added and requires that tax identification numbers be redacted from pleadings or documents prior to being released.
Section 5.00: Accessing Court Records
• Section 5.00 was amended to align more closely with the requirements outlined in P.A.I.R.R. 2 (Public Access to Administrative Records of the Judicial Branch) regarding the procedure to access records.
• Section 5.00(d) was amended to clarify that if court records cannot be provided upon request, the custodian will provide court records within three business days. If, due to extenuating circumstances, the custodian cannot provide records within three business days, the custodian may have an additional seven business days to respond.
• Sections 5.00 (d)(1-5) provides definitions of the extenuating circumstances under which the custodian may provide court records within the seven business day extension.
Addendum C: Data Request for Purposes or Research, Including Personally Identifiable Data, Pursuant to Section 4.40(f) was created to be used with researchers that request compiled data that includes personally identifiable data components.
Although e-filing specifications are not defined in CJD 05-01, this policy does address “court records subject to remote access” (Section 4.20). As a result, the Public Access Committee also approved case information for Probate trust and estate case types to be opened via remote access in ICCES. ITS requires sufficient time to make necessary updates to ICCES, therefore, this change will occur on or before 9/1/2016. For probate trust and estate cases filed prior to 9/1/16, the security level of public documents filed in these cases will be “protected”; after 9/1/16, only certain public documents (to be specified by the Clerks of Court) will be auto-protected.
For all of the Colorado Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Directives, click here.
On Friday, October 30, 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court announced Rule Change 2015(08), amending Chapter 38 of the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, “Public Access to Information and Records.” The changes amended the title of the rules from “Public Access to Records and Information” and added an extensive new Rule 2, “Public Access to Administrative Records of the Judicial Branch.” The rule follows the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) but is not identical, and the introductory paragraph to Rule 2 states, “Many of the rule’s deviations from CORA reflect simple changes to language and streamlined organization of the rule for clarity and to better serve the public. Other, substantive deviations from CORA reflect the unique nature of the records and operations of the Judicial Branch. These changes are addressed in comments throughout the rule. The rule pertains only to administrative records and does not contemplate or control access to court records.” The previously numbered Rule 2 was renumbered as Rule 3 but suffered no other amendments.
On Friday, September 5, 2014, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced amendments to CJD 05-01, “Directive Concerning Access to Court Records,” effective September 4, 2014. The Chief Justice Directive seeks to provide guidance for access to court records while protecting the privacy of litigants. The directive also contains guidance for Judicial Branch personnel and promotes standards for content on Judicial Branch websites, and provides for a Public Access Committee to periodically review and update the rules for public access. Rules for public access to court records are also included in CJD 05-01.