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Rush to lead new task force on access to electronic court records

February 4, 2016

Editor's note: The Indiana Supreme Court added State Rep. Sharon Negele, R-Attica, as a task force member in a Feb. 11 order.

It’s time for best practices and policies on Internet access to court records to be developed, the Indiana Supreme Court said Thursday in an order about the creation of an advisory task force on remote access to and privacy of electronic court records.

“Currently, the public can access non-confidential records in a case file by going to the courthouse or contacting the clerk or court staff for assistance. The result is often referred to as ‘practical obscurity’ because most public case documents remain obscure in the hard copy case file. In the near future, the electronically filed and digitized documents in a case file could be posted on the Internet and made available around the world. This capability raises new questions about balancing litigants’ privacy against the public convenience (and expectation) of remote access over the Internet,” Chief Justice Loretta Rush wrote in the order issued Wednesday.

The 18-member task force, chaired by the chief justice, will consider the purposes articulated under Indiana Administrative Rule 9(A)(2), including promoting accessibility to court records, minimizing risk of injury to individuals, promoting government accountability, and protecting proprietary business information.

The task force will work under the auspices of the Records Management Committee and Court Technology. It has until Sept. 1 to provide an initial written report, with findings and recommendations, to the RMC and to Justice Steven David and Court of Appeals Judge Paul Mathias as the leaders of the court’s technology initiatives.

The task force members are:
•    Chief Justice Loretta Rush, chair;
•    Melissa Jane Avery, Broyles Kight & Ricafort P.C.;
•    Fred H. Cate, professor, Indiana University Maurer School of Law;
•    Christa Coffey, clerk, Tippecanoe Circuit and Superior Courts;
•    Ken Falk, legal director, ACLU of Indiana;
•    Christine Hayes Hickey, Rubin & Levin P.C.;
•    Lilia G. Judson, interim chief administrative officer, Indiana Supreme Court;
•    Stephen Key, executive director and general counsel, Hoosier State Press Association;
•    Larry A. Landis, executive director, Indiana Public Defender Council;
•    Jon Laramore, executive director, Indiana Legal Services Inc.;
•    Montgomery Superior Court 2 Judge Peggy Lohorn;
•    Kelly McBride, executive director, Domestic Violence Network;
•    State Rep. David Ober, R-Albion;
•    David N. Powell, executive director, Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council;
•    Joel Schumm, professor, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law;
•    Gary D. Secrest, assistant attorney general, Office of the Indiana Attorney General;
•    Debra Walker, clerk, Henry Circuit Court; and
•    Henry Circuit Court 1 Judge Mary G. Willis.

Indiana courts are making the switch to e-filing, with a goal of having all state courts using e-filing by the end of 2018. The state’s appellate courts and Clark and Hamilton counties have already started accepting electronically filed records.
 

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