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.