Friday, May 5, 2017

DC Courts Compile Report on Remote Public Access to Electronic Court Records


Prepared by the Remote Access to Court Electronic Records (RACER) Committee of the Council for Court Excellence, and assisted by the National Center for State Courts, with funding by the State Justice Institute, the committee released their report in April 2017 on public access to electronic court records.




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The full report is available as an online PDF document.

The overview section begins:

"Electronic access to records is made possible by having court records in digital form. As courts go from being custodians of paper files to online publishers of legal information, the essential questions are: what records are now accessible, to whom, and how? D.C. court officials facing the same policy questions may benefit from knowing how courts elsewhere have been resolving these questions, including the public consultation and oversight methods other jurisdictions have found to be useful."

The overview continues…

"The results of the mid-2016 Council for Court Excellence/National Center for State Courts survey of states show a broad movement towards online access to court records. Out of 28 responses, respondents in 21 states, some from varying levels of state court staffs and some from state court administrative offices, reported providing various forms of remote access to court records. This is a marked increase from even a few years ago when only three states were reported as offering online access to court records beyond just the docket.  All but four respondents answered the survey questions from the perspective of their state court system as a whole, including trial and appellate levels. The survey did not ask that each question be addressed separately by court level."

The report goes on to describe and discuss six general categories of issues for public access.  They are:

1. Online access approaches
2. Bulk data availability
3. Privacy
4. Governance Structures
5. Fees
6. Maintenance and usability

It is an admirable effort to compile this report that our readers should download and read.

Congratulations to all involved and thanks to the court participants.

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