M E M O
TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Mike Hagburg
RE: Administrative Rule 41, Access to Judicial Records; N.D.R.Ct. 3.1, Pleadings and Motions; N.D.R.Ct. Appendix G, Confidential Information Form
At its April meeting, the Committee discussed ways to increase security of personal information contained in judicial records.
The Committee decided that implementing the Minnesota approach -- requiring personal information to be listed on a separate, confidential, form when items are first filed with the court -- would help protect personal information coming into the system.
Proposed amendments to N.D.R.Ct. 3.1 which incorporate the Minnesota requirement for confidential information filed with the court to be listed on a separate form are attached. The amendments to Rule 3.1 also reflect the Committee's desire to protect personal information other than social security numbers -- this is an expansion of the protections provided by the Minnesota rule. Also, a proposed Appendix G to the Rules of Court -- a Confidential Information Form based on the Minnesota model -- is provided.
The Committee also decided that amendments to Rule 41 were necessary to limit the release of personal information already contained in court files. A version of Rule 41 implementing the suggestions made by the Committee is attached -- it lists the types of information the Committee decided should be classified as personal and clarifies that parties must be given unfettered access to material in their own cases.
Staff queried the Clerks of Court by e-mail regarding how often they are required to deal with non-party requests for court records. In general, the courts who responded indicated that such requests are unusual. A summary of the clerk comments is attached.
Staff also asked for comments from the Court Services Committee. While Court Services is considering modifications to Rule 41, it does not have any plans to deal with the personal information confidentiality issue.
Also attached is an Attorney General Opinion dated April 25, 2003, which clarifies that court records are excluded from the open records law and that, instead, access to court records is governed by reasonable court rules.