Minnesota General Rules of Practice
RULE 11. Submission of Confidential Information
Rule 11.01 Definitions
The following definitions apply for the purposes of this rule:
(a) "Restricted identifiers" shall mean the social security number, employer identification number, and financial account numbers of a party or other person.
(b) "Financial source documents" means income tax returns, W-2 forms and schedules, wage stubs, credit card statements, financial institution statements, check registers, and other financial information deemed financial source documents by court order.
(Amended effective July 1, 2007.)
Rule 11.02 Restricted Identifiers
(a) Pleadings and Other Documents Submitted by a Party. No party shall submit
restricted identifiers on any pleading or other document that is to be filed with the court
(i) on a separate form entitled Confidential Information Form (see Form 11.1 appended to these rules) filed with the pleading or other document; or
(ii) on Sealed Financial Source Documents under Rule 11.03. The parties are solely responsible for ensuring that restricted identifiers do not otherwise appear on the pleading or other document filed with the court. The court administrator will not review each pleading or document filed by a party for compliance with this rule. The Confidential Information Form shall not be accessible to the public.
(b) Records Generated by the Court. Restricted identifiers maintained by the court in its register of actions (i.e., activity summary or similar information that lists the title, origination, activities, proceedings and filings in each case), calendars, indexes, and judgment docket shall not be accessible to the public. Courts shall not include restricted identifiers on judgments, orders, decisions, and notices except on the Confidential Information Form (Form 11.1), which shall not be accessible to the public.
Rule 11.03 Sealing Financial Source Documents
Financial source documents shall be submitted to the court under a cover sheet designated "Sealed Financial Source Documents" and substantially in the form set forth as Form 11.2 appended to these rules. Financial source documents submitted with the required cover sheet are not accessible to the public except to the extent that they are admitted into evidence in a testimonial hearing or trial or as provided in Rule 11.05 of these rules. The cover sheet or copy of it shall be accessible to the public. Financial source documents that are not submitted with the required cover sheet and that contain restricted identifiers are accessible to the public, but the court may, upon motion or on its own initiative, order that any such financial source document be sealed.
Rule 11.04 Failure to Comply
If a party fails to comply with the requirements of this rule in regard to another individual's restricted identifiers or financial source documents, the court may upon motion or its own initiative impose appropriate sanctions, including costs necessary to prepare an appropriate document for filing.
Rule 11.05 Procedure for Requesting Access to Sealed Financial Source Documents
(a) Motion. Any person may file a motion, supported by affidavit showing good cause, for access to Sealed Financial Source Documents or portions of the documents. Written notice of the motion shall be required.
(b) Waiver of Notice. If the person seeking access cannot locate a party to provide the notice required under this rule, after making a good faith reasonable effort to provide such notice as required by applicable court rules, an affidavit may be filed with the court setting forth the efforts to locate the party and requesting waiver of the notice provisions of this rule. The court may waive the notice requirement of this rule if the court finds that further good faith efforts to locate the party are unlikely to be successful.
(c) Balancing Test. The court shall allow access to Sealed Financial Source Documents, or relevant portions of the documents, if the court finds that the public interest in granting access or the personal interest of the person seeking access outweighs the privacy interests of the parties or dependent children. In granting access the court may impose conditions necessary to balance the interests consistent with this rule.
(Adopted effective July 1, 2005.)
Advisory Committee Comment--2005 Adoption
Rule 11 is a new rule, but is derived in part from former Rule 313. It is also based on Wash. GR 22 (2003). Under this rule, applicable in all court proceedings, parties are now responsible for protecting the privacy of restricted identifiers (social security numbers or employer identification numbers and financial account numbers) and financial source documents by submitting them with the proper forms. Failure to comply would result in the public having access to the restricted identifiers and financial source documents from the case file unless the party files a motion to seal them or the court acts on its own initiative under Rule 11.03. The Confidential Information Form from Rule 313 is retained, modified, and renumbered, and a new Sealed Financial Source Documents cover sheet has been added. The court retains authority to impose sanctions against parties who violate the rule in regard to another individual's restricted identifiers or financial source documents.
New in 2005 is the procedure for obtaining access to restricted identifiers and sealed financial source documents. This process requires the court to balance the competing interest involved. See, e.g., Minneapolis Star & Tribune Co. v. Schumacher, 392 N.W.2d 197 (Minn. 1986) (when party seeks to restrict access to settlement documents and transcripts of settlement hearings made part of civil court file by statute, court must balance interests favoring access, along with presumption in favor of access, against those asserted for restricting access).
Public Access Rules Advisory Committee Comment--2007 Amendment
The 2007 amendment to Rule 11.01(a) expands the rule to protect the restricted identifiers of all persons, not just a party and a party's child. Records submitted to the court may include restricted identifiers of persons other than a party or the party's child, such as clients or other fiduciaries.
The 2007 amendment to Rule 11.03 recognizes that if a sealed financial
source document is formally offered and admitted into evidence in a testimonial
hearing or trial the document will be accessible to the public to the extent that it
has been admitted. This is the result under Wash. GR 22 (2006) upon which this
rule is based. In such situations, it is strongly recommended that restricted
identifiers be redacted from the document before its admission into evidence.