Thursday, April 16, 2015

Nebraska Shares Court Case Data Protection Rules

There has been a recent discussion regarding how courts are dealing with information privacy issues for their document repositories.  The Nebraska courts have posted their criminal and civil case court rules governing these documents on two web pages.  And Ms. Jennifer Rasmussen, their CIO notes that “(t)hese rules have allowed us to make court document images available online since 2008 and are working well.  In addition, we did a spot check in 2013 to see if attorneys were complying and found very few instances where they were not.”


A couple of excerpts from their court rules are shown below.  Please click on the links for the full rule posting:

For Criminal Cases: 

“The following privacy rules shall apply to all pleadings and documents filed in all criminal actions in the district courts of Nebraska.

(A) Redacted Filings. In any electronic or paper filing with the court that contains an individual’s Social Security number; a taxpayer identification number; a birth date; the name of an individual known to be a minor; or a financial account number, a party or nonparty making the filing may include only, unless otherwise ordered by the court:

  1. a reference to Social Security number or taxpayer identification number (no digits);
  2. the year of the individual’s birth;
  3. a minor child’s initials;
  4. the last four digits of a financial account number.

B)  Exemptions. The redaction requirement does not apply to the following:
  1. the date of birth of a defendant or person subject to detention;
  2. the name of a defendant or person subject to detention;
  3. a financial account number or real property address that identifies the account or property allegedly subject to forfeiture in a forfeiture proceeding;
  4. the record of an administrative or agency proceeding;
  5. the record of a court or tribunal, if that record was not subject to this rule when originally filed;
  6. a filing covered by Nebraska state statute § 6-1524(C).
(C) Filings Made Under Seal. The court may, on its own motion or for good cause shown, order that a filing be made under seal without redaction. The court may later unseal the filing or order the person who made the filing to file a redacted version for the public record.

(D) Protective Orders. For good cause, the court may by order in a case:

  1. require redaction of additional information; or
  2. limit or prohibit a nonparty’s remote electronic access to a document filed with the court.

(E) Option for Additional Unredacted Filing Under Seal. A person making a redacted filing may also file an unredacted copy under seal. The court shall retain the unredacted copy as part of the record, under seal.

(F) Option for Filing a Reference List. A filing that contains information set forth as provided by § 6-1524(A) may be filed together with a reference list that identifies each item of redacted information and specifies an appropriate identifier that uniquely corresponds to each item listed. The reference list shall be filed under seal and may be amended as of right. The court shall retain the reference list as part of the record, under seal. Any reference in the case to a listed identifier will be construed to refer to the corresponding item of information as stated on the reference list.

(G) The responsibility for redacting information set forth in § 6-1524(A) rests solely with counsel of record. The clerk of the court shall not be required to review documents for compliance with this rule. If a clerk of the court identifies a violation of this rule, the clerk may, at his or her option, provide a redacted document for public access. However, the clerk electing to provide a redacted copy for public access shall maintain the original document without any alterations thereof, which document shall only be available to the court and to the parties or counsel of record.

For civil case matters:

“The following privacy rules shall apply to all pleadings, documents, exhibits, court orders, judgments, and decrees filed in all civil actions in the district courts of Nebraska:

(A) This rule seeks to prevent birth dates, Social Security numbers, and financial account numbers of all persons, including minor children, from being included in court records generally available to the public.

(B) The personal and financial information identified in § 6-1521(A) shall be set forth in a separate document as set forth in Appendix 3 to these rules. Such separate document shall be submitted in either electronic form or paper form. If the document is submitted in paper form, it shall contain, at the top of the first page, the following language, in bold type: This document is confidential and shall not be made part of the court file or provided to the public pursuant to Neb. Ct. R. § 6-1521. The clerk of the court shall keep the document separate from the case file but accessible to judges and court staff. If the document is submitted in electronic form, or converted from paper form to electronic form, the electronic document or the data contained therein may be reproduced or stored in JUSTICE or other court case and financial management system and the paper form shall not be submitted. Such electronic document, image, or data shall be electronically marked and shall not be accessible or viewable by the public, except as expressly authorized by written court order. Otherwise, access to such electronic documents, images, or data by governmental agencies and officials shall be implemented by agency agreements approved by the Nebraska Supreme Court. Application for access to such electronic document, image, or data by government agencies and officials shall be made by such agency or official on the form provided at Appendix 4 and submitted to the Administrative Office of the Courts, Deputy State Court Administrator for Information Technology, and shall set forth statutory citation(s) or other express authority authorizing the agency or official such access to personal and financial information as identified in § 6-1521(A) and/or information as contained on the Appendix 3 document.. The Appendix 3 information shall be provided to the child support division of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, but shall not otherwise be made available without further court order. The form in Appendix 3 may be used in any civil case and shall be protected as stated above."

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