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Appellate docket offers more public access

March 31, 2009

Docket entries for more than 200 juvenile-related cases are now publicly available online through the Indiana Appellate Clerk's Office.

Working to comply with a new administrative rule regarding public access to certain case records, the clerk's office has updated its online docket to allow public access to entries for juvenile, paternity, parental rights terminations, and adoption cases that are deemed confidential by state statute.

The Indiana Supreme Court amended Administrative Rule 9 governing public access to court records late last year, after a court committee studied the issue during 2008. Rule 9(G)(4)(a)(i) took effect in January, allowing the Appellate Clerk's Office to post the chronological case summaries for those types of cases online for public view, though names and any identifying information about parties remains unavailable.

Prior to the rule change, there was no publicly accessible record for some cases that the legal community knew existed - such as those that had gone through oral arguments and the webcast could be found online. Anyone searching by name or case number couldn't find any results on the docket, and non-parties couldn't call to get information as simple as whether an appeal existed, who the attorneys were, or what the status was.

Now, the docket entries exist for any case pending in 2008 or before - about 210 cases were entered on Saturday, according to Appellate Clerk Kevin Smith. In order to update the docket system to reflect this change, a Clerk's Office employee had to manually go through the database to distinguish between cases open or closed as of Jan. 1, 2009, and update those dockets accordingly to comply with the rule.

Appeals filed after Jan. 1, 2009, are automatically entered into the system with limited information, but the review included about 450 cases, Smith said.

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