TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Mike Hagburg
DATE: April 12, 2013
RE: Rule 41, N.D. Sup. Ct. Admin. R., Access to Court Records
In 2011, the committee proposed an amendment to N.D. Sup. Ct. Admin. R. 41 that would have allowed a criminal defendant to obtain restrictions on public access to the defendant's online case record if the charges against the defendant had been dismissed or if the defendant has been acquitted. This proposal was prompted by complaints expressed by former defendants who had not been convicted of the charges against them that they were being harmed because these charges remained on public display indefinitely on the Internet.
In addition to proposing this amendment, the committee also outlined criticism of the way that information about disposition of a criminal offense was displayed on the District Court Search website. People searching for information were provided a page that listed the person's name, the offense charged, and whether the case was open or closed: searchers needed to continue to an additional page to see the offense disposition.
The Supreme Court adopted the committee's proposed amendment with some modifications and it responded to the committee's criticism of the search information display by instructing the Court Technology Committee to address the issue. The attached letter describes the technology committee's work and how it resolved the issue. In brief, the display on the search result page will still display the charge, but it will provide better information on the disposition of the case and will indicate if the charge was dismissed or if the defendant was acquitted.