TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Mike Hagburg
RE: Rule 3.4, N.D.R.Ct., Privacy Protection for Filings Made With the Court; Rule 3.1, N.D.R.Ct., Pleadings
Effective March 1, 2005, Rule 3.1 was amended to include measures to protect personal information in documents filed with the court. The amendments were based on federal guidelines developed to help federal courts conform to the E-Government Act.
The federal courts have now developed formal rules on protecting private information in court filings. These rules, Fed.R.Civ.P. 5.2, Fed.R.Crim.P. 49.1, and Fed.R.App.P. 25, take effect on Dec. 1, 2007.
The Committee briefly discussed the new federal privacy protection rules at the October meeting. It was the consensus of the Committee that it would be preferable to have revised privacy protection measures in a single rule rather than spread among separate civil, criminal and appellate rules. Staff has therefore prepared a proposed new Rule 3.4 to be included in the Rules of Court. The proposal contains expanded privacy provisions based on those in the new federal rules.
Under proposed Rule 3.4, redaction of social security numbers and financial account numbers would still be required. In addition, the use of birth year rather than birth date and use of a minor's initials rather than the full name would be required.
As under the existing rule, proposed Rule 3.4 would require parties to file redacted documents and give parties the option of filing non-redacted documents under seal. In previous discussions of this issue, Committee members argued that having non-redacted documents in the court file is particularly important in family law cases, especially since having information such as social security numbers is required by statute in some family law documents.
Proposed Rule 3.4 would also provide the additional option of filing a reference list where the party could create a unique identifier to match each item of protected information. The party could then use the unique identifier in documents rather than redacting them. This is similar to the approach used in Minnesota courts to protect personal information and was an option discussed by the Committee while formulating the protections in Rule 3.1.
The Rule 3.4 proposal and proposed amendments to Rule 3.1 are attached.