Goodbye Administrative Rule 9,
Hello Indiana Rules on Access to Court Records
by Melissa A. Wakefield, RP®, IRP
Effective January 1, 2020, Administrative Rule 9 was repealed and replaced with Indiana Rules on Access to Court Records (“ACR”).
This article is not intended as a summary of the differences between Administrative Rule 9 and the ACR but does highlight some of the changes. The complete Rules on ACR can be found at https://www.in.gov/judiciary/rules/records/index.html. I encourage everyone to take the time to review the new ACR rules.
Among other things, the ACR expands information to be redacted, expands the Court’s duties to enforce sanctions for failure to redact confidential information, and modifies the process for redacting information that is not necessary for the disposition of a case.
ACR expands the medical, mental health and witness information to be excluded from public access.
· When compiled or created by a medical service provider or mental health service provider for treatment purposes, medical and mental health records will be excluded from public access. Certain mental health and substance abuse records, performed at the direction of the Court or a substance abuse treatment provider, will not be excluded from public record.
· Dates of birth, addresses, e-mail addresses, and telephone numbers of victims and witnesses in criminal, juvenile, or civil protection order proceedings are to be excluded from public access.
NOTE: Complete social security numbers, account numbers, personal identification numbers and passwords are still to be excluded from public access.
Notice of Excluded Information
· Under ACR, if the redacted information is not necessary for the disposition of the case, you will no longer need to file a notice of excluded information.
· If the information is necessary to the disposition of a case, you must still file a public access version, a non-public access version, and a notice of exclusion.
A copy of the proposed form of notice of exclusion of confidential information is provided at the end of the Rules on ACR.
Immediate Action Required Upon Discovery of a Failure to Redact
In the event of a failure to properly redact confidential information, the filer of such information must take immediate action to comply with the redaction rules.
Failure to comply with the ACR may subject attorneys or parties to sanctions.
In November, 2019 the Indianapolis Bar Association held its Annual Litigation Section Judicial Roundtable which was a discussion of the changes to public access to court records. The panel consisted of Judge Marianne Vorhees, Delaware Circuit Court No. 1, Judge Paul Felix, Hamilton Circuit Court, and Judge Heather Welch, Marion Superior Court who shared the following tips:
· Judges are authorized and expected to enforce ACR.
· Use caution when providing dates of birth for minor children. In many civil cases, including dissolutions cases, it is suggested that you refer to the child’s age or month and year of birth rather than provide the entire date of birth.
· Attorneys who fail to exclude confidential information may be liable for damages resulting from that failure to exclude.
· In a pre-trial conference and/or in advance of a hearing, discuss with the court and opposing counsel how confidential information should be handled.
· Evidence that should be excluded from public record and submitted during court proceedings should be on green paper.
· Prior to starting any questioning or discussion during a court proceeding related to confidential information, advise the judge so appropriate steps can be made and the court reporter knows to put that portion of the transcript in a separate volume. Failure to do so could result in additional transcription costs being assessed to correct the record.
Tools of the Trade
Doxpop’s Hidden Gems by Melissa A. Wakefield, RP®, IRP
I am a huge fan of Doxpop. Long before MyCase, Doxpop was the source for court dockets. Doxpop still has court dockets, including Brown, Decatur, Jay, Jefferson, LaGrange, Martin, Noble, Pulaski, Randolph, Spencer, Switzerland, Vermillion, Warrick and White Counties, City of Anderson, Bluffton Town, Edgewood Town, and older records for Hamilton County, Pendleton Town and Yorktown Town which are not available on MyCase, but Doxpop is so much more than dockets.
And yes, you can perform searches and obtain copies of documents from the county recorders for almost one-half of the Indiana counties; and you can search tax warrants for all Indiana counties. And, if you’ve ever been frustrated using the search feature in MyCase, especially if you don’t use wildcards, you probably know that Doxpop has a very robust search engine and its Super Search can, among other things, produce results that include many variations of the name you are searching. Think about how helpful it could be to find variations of the name Cathy, Kathy, Kathie… in one search.
And you probably already know that you have the ability to save searches for court records or recorded documents and set alerts to notify you when something new is filed or recorded. You can also save cases and set alerts to notify you when there is new activity on the docket. If your attorneys are anything like mine, they don’t always send you those notifications for the approved Orders so you spend a lot of time manually monitoring MyCase for the orders when you need to make service of those orders. Just search for the case in Doxpop, click the Add button in the upper right hand corner, then click on Set Alert and you will be notified when something new is added to the docket. I’ve gotten Doxpop notifications that let me know an order has been entered a day before the Odyssey notice goes out to the attorney. Before the attorney even knows the order is signed, I’ve initiated service. After you get your notification on the order, you can remove the alert so you don’t keep getting docket activity updates.
But those aren’t the hidden gems I’m talking about. The real hidden gems might just take a little more exploration.
Did you know that under the “my doxpop” tab, you can do a number of things? You can enter the bar ids for the attorneys with whom you work then go to my calendar and find all of their hearings (color coded by attorney and county). When entering the bar ids, you can set up an e-mail address for you and/or your attorney and request either daily or immediate notification of any scheduled hearings. The immediate notifications come as calendar appointments! These often come before your receive notification from the Court and the Court notifications don’t come as calendar appointments.
Did you know you can set up search regions for searches? Rather than doing a search of all Doxpop counties or several searches for individual counties, you can simply set up a region with all the counties you want to search, select that region when you do your search and get results for just those counties you need.
Did you know that when you are looking at a docket the underlined Court name is a hyperlink? This takes you to a page that provides additional search boxes, update information, and a link to that County’s website.
Did you know that Doxpop has a Property Watch for about 38 Indiana counties which can allow you to get alerts if a mortgage or deed is filed under your name relating to a specific property? For the other Doxpop recorder counties, you can use the saved search and alert feature as a fraud alert.
These are just a few of my favorites. Doxpop is definitely more than court dockets and e-filing, and well worth the time to discover more of its hidden gems.
Nick Fankhauser of Doxpop has graciously agreed to provide us with tips for future issues of The Precedent. Doxpop will be providing more detailed information on some of the tips in this article as well as tips not mentioned. Be on the lookout for those tips to discover some of the other tools Doxpop offers.