Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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NEW RULES GOVERNING ACCESS TO COURT RECORDS IN MA

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court approved new rules regarding access to court records. The new rules disseminated on August 10, 2016 are an attempt to balance public access to the records with the legislature’s intent to protect the “privacy interests of litigants, victims, and witnesses in some court cases, such as juvenile proceedings, domestic violence cases and child custody and other family matters.”

The new rules govern a variety of ways citizens may access court records. Included are clarifications that digital copies may be made by scanner or with a mobile phone camera (as long as mobile phones are generally allowed inside that courthouse). Courthouses will also be required to provide a kiosk or other terminal for online access to electronic records in the courthouse.

Remote access over the Internet will be restored for matters in Superior Courts and possibly other trial courts after further review that is expected to be completed in October 2016. Attorneys accessing case information remotely will have no greater access to court records than the general public except for cases where they have filed an appearance.

The new rules, long overdue, are in part a response to recent concerns that data mining companies have been systematically downloading case information. The potential of these companies accessing and disseminating information that the legislature intended to protect caused the SJC to temporarily block online access to court records. These new rules are an attempt to restore the public’s access to court records while protecting sensitive privacy interests.

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Joseph Waldbaum

Joseph Waldbaum

Joseph Waldbaum has been licensed as an attorney in Massachusetts for the last nineteen years. He has also been a member of the National College of DUI Defense for fifteen years, routinely attending their national seminars. You may learn more about Mr. Waldbaum through his websites at ma-oui.com, waldbaumlaw.com or ouilawyermassachusetts.com. You may also reach him by phone at 978.921.4100 or at joseph@waldbaumlaw.com.

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