Effective January 1, 2017, use of the no fee filing drop boxes will be discontinued. All court document will need to be filed at the Clerk's Office public counter or through the Clerk's Office e-File System.https://efile.cookcountyuscourts.com/
In Colorado, the recording fee for the first page of each document recorded on or after January 1, 2017 in Colorado will increase by $2.00. This means the fee will be $13.00 for the first page and $5.00 for each additional page of each recorded document on or after January 1, 2017.
Per SB 166, effective November 14, 2016, people convicted of certain second and third degree misdemeanors and ungraded offenses with a maximum penalty of two years may obtain an Order of Limited Access from the court to seal the record. The Order prohibits state or local police departments, courts, and other state agencies from providing information related to the conviction, arrest, or other information to anyone including employers and landlords. There are few exceptions. Law enforcement agencies will be able to share information with other law enforcement agencies, with courts, and certain governmental agencies for licensing purposes, described in section 9121(b.1) and 9124(a).
The eligibility requirements include:
No convictions for 10 years (beginning from your conviction date or date of completion of supervision, including probation-whichever is later)
Only second or third degree misdemeanors or ungraded offenses that carry no more than 2 years as a maximum sentence
No more than 3 eligible misdemeanor convictions
No felony or first degree misdemeanor convictions
No convictions of any of the following offenses: sexual intercourse with an animal (3129), impersonating a public servant (4912), intimidation of or retaliation against a witness (4952, 4953), obstruction of a child abuse case (4958), any sex offense conviction that requires registration under Meghan's Law (42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 97), or simple assault (M2 assault or second degree misdemeanor assault)
Obviously, data aggregators will need to constantly update (redact) their DBs.
An Advisory Task Force on Remote Access to and Privacy of Electronic Court Records, created by IN Supreme Court order, recently undertook a study of best practices and policies on Internet access to electronic court records. A 47 page Report of Findings and Recommendations is now available at www.in.gov/judiciary/admin/files/tfrap-report.pdf.
There are eight specific recommendations in the Report, four of which relate to online access by the public. The public has until December 1st to provide comments. The task force that created the recommendations included judges, attorneys, law professors, politicians, clerks and judicial staff, but no one from the segment of users in the private sector.
We asked Mr. Don Johnson, owner of Trace Investigations in Bloomington IN, for his thoughts on this Report and its effect on record access for the public. Mr. Johnson is a founding member of the Indiana Society of Professional Investigators and also a member of the executive council of the Indiana Association of Background Screeners (indianabackgroundscreeners.com), the first state association of its kind.
Per Mr. Johnson: "By all appearances, these recommendations are going to bring us more complete online records, not less. The clerks are being trained already on scanning orders and judgments into the online portal. In other words, once this is completed a case file on Odyssey (and Doxpop) will now have complete orders and judgments displayed, as opposed to the disposition summaries we get now, which are often incomplete or not even there (just a date and a note an order or judgment was issued). Already local attorneys can scan their filings and send a PDF to the court and it will be entered, or a new file created if it's a civil case (the system is called "E-file")."
The Task Force did postpone consideration of posting records for several case types: juvenile paternity, domestic relations, estate supervised, trust and miscellaneous criminal. The Report stated the Task Force will consider next year whether to make orders in those cases available online to the public, as well as pleadings and filings in all non-confidential cases. The Report said those decisions will come after initial online access been implemented and assessed.
Per a press release issued August 10, 2016, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has approved Trial Court Rule XIV, Uniform Rules on Public Access to Court Records, which governs access to court records in the trial courts. Rule XIV includes a new provisional approval within the section of the rule that governs remote access by attorneys through the Attorney Portal. See Section 5(b). Also, the Court will revisit this section later this fall.
This provisional reinstatement of remote access by attorneys is the result of concerns and objections to the recent closure of the Attorney Portal which was also used heavily by the news media. Per the new rule, licensed attorneys in Massachusetts who have registered with the Massachusetts Trial Court, will gain access to a portal providing remote access to all cases in which they have entered an appearance, and a calendar of scheduled events in such cases, subject to the terms and conditions per Court Rule XIV. Per the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's Press Release:
"The Justices asked the Chief Justice of the Trial Court to address the concerns that were raised and to make a recommendation no later than the end of October 2016 on whether changes should be made in Section 5(b). Meanwhile, consistent with Rule XIV, the Trial Court is expanding the information that can be viewed remotely through the Public Internet Portal to include searchable criminal docket information, beginning with the Superior Court. The Trial Court plans to make criminal docket information in other court departments available on the Internet over the coming months."
Regarding criminal case searches by the general public, per Rule 5(a)(2), regarding criminal case searches by the general public:
"...as a matter of policy, the committee has determined that criminal case searches will be limited to case number. Therefore, search by defendant name shall not be permitted on the internet portal for criminal cases."
Also approved are amendments to Rule 1:24 which governs personal identifiers found in court documents. Per this rule, personal identifying information means a Social Security number, taxpayer identification number, driver's license number, state -issued identification card number, or passport number, a parent's birth surname if identified as such, a financial account number, or a credit or debit card number. The date of birth is not mentioned.
Both of these new rules become effective on November 1, 2016.
Effective October 1, 2016, the State of Michigan is changing the fee structure for recording a document at the county level to a flat rate basis, regardless of the number of pages. Per the law, the new fee to record a document will be $30.00. This fee includes the Michigan Remonumentation and Register of Deeds Automation fees. For a document that assigns or discharges more than 1 instrument there will be a $3.00 fee for each instrument assigned or discharged in addition to the $30.00 flat fee.
The effect of the new law is that it will increase the recording fees for many documents that consist of fewer than eight pages, and decrease fees for documents containing eight pages or more.
The certification fee will increase from at least $1.00 (may be higher in some counties) to $5.00. The copy fee remains at $1.00 per page. Search fees remain at 50 cents for each year searched with a minimum of $5.00 - except for tract index searches.
Recording fees are set by the Michigan Legislature. Public Acts 224 through 232 of 2016 set the new fees, see www.legislature.mi.gov and click on the Public Act MCL Search on the left edge.
With election time looming, there is increased interest in who is supporting who - including donations, PAC money, and data about lobbyists. The text about these recommended private resources is taken from the upcoming 4th edition of The Manual to Online Public Records.
OpenSecrets.orgis an extremely useful site. Per their web page "...is the nation's premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy. Nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit, the organization aims to create a more educated voter, an involved citizenry and a more transparent and responsive government."
Another recommended site is FollowTheMoney.org which is maintained by the National Institute on Money in State Politics. The Institute provides a searchable database with substantive profiles on candidates and issues, insightful reports and reliable data for all 50 states. This excellent web page also has many, many other database searches available on a subscription basis only.
Also, a great searchable directory of lobbying firms is found at LobbyData.com. Search by name, the agency involved or by issue.
The VoteSmartsite tracks many facts about candidates including campaign contributions; however, data may be lacking for local politicians. The site includes voting records and evaluations by special interest groups.
Effective October 1, 2016, the fee for a name-based criminal record check processed through the Missouri State Highway Patrol CJIS Division will increase from $12.00 to $13.00 per record.
The state fee for a fingerprint based check will remain the same, however the FBI fee will decrease to $12.00 per applicant and to $10.75 for volunteers.
Note that if ordering a criminal record request electronically, a processing service fee is added when using a credit or debit card. The fee is based on volume, not on a per transaction basis. For example, if the transaction total is under $50.00 the fee is $1.25, if $50.01 to $75.00 then $1.75 is added, if $75.01 to $100.00 then $2.15 is added. Anything over $100.00 incurs a 2.15% surcharge fee.
Driving Record & Vehicle Record Fee Increase Coming Soon in Michigan
Effective 10-1-2016, the fee to obtain a driving record or a vehicle record (such as title or registration) will increase by $3.00 from $8.00 to $11.00. This fee increase affects both over-the-counter and electronic access methods.
Colorado Driving Record Fee Increased For Manually Processed Records
Effective July 1, 2016, the fee for a driving record obtained in person or by mail increased from $2.60 to $9.00. A certified record increased from $3.20 to $10.00. Note the fee for an accident report also increased to $9.00 and $10.00 if certified.
The fee for electronic driving records did not increase, at least for now, and remains at $2.00 per record. Also the record fee for vehicle title and registration records did not increase and remains at $2.20 per record or $2.70 if certified.
Online or Onsite? Which Fee is Higher?
Here are some interesting statistics comparing the fee of a driving record obtained electronically versus obtained manually (mail or onsite) within the same state.
in 23 states the online fee is higher
in 12 states the online fee is lower
in 16 states the fee is the same
Beware of vendors who will charge the higher price, regardless of which access method is used. To view a list of current fees with a breakdown if online, onsite, or by mail see:
There are three key reasons why the completeness, consistency, and accuracy of state criminal record repositories could be suspect-
Timeliness of Receiving Arrest and Disposition Data
Timeliness of Entering Arrest and Disposition Data into the Repository
Inability to Match Dispositions with Existing Arrest Records
The basis for these concerns is supported by documented facts provided by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Every two years the DOJ's Bureau of Justice Statistics releases an extensive Survey of State Criminal Record Repositories. The latest survey, released December 2015 and based on statistics complied as of Dec 31, 2014, is a 117-page document with 36 data tables. Below are some eye-catching facts reflected from the current Survey:
8 states report 25% or more of all dispositions received could NOT be linked to the arrest/charge information in the state criminal record database. 14 states don't know how many dispositions they have that cannot be linked. (Table 8a)
20 states have over 3 million unprocessed or partially processed court dispositions, ranging from 200 in Michigan and North Dakota to over 1 million in Nevada. (Table 14)
11 states report at least a 50 day backlog between the time when a felony case is decided and when the record is entered in that state's criminal history database. 18 states do not know how long the delay is. (Table 14)
To view or download a recently posted article with some eye-opening individual state stats from several of the Tables visit the BRB Knowledge Center.