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From the Winter 2001 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 18.

From the Winter 2001 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 18.

The following are the options presented in a federal judicial proposal on electronic access to court records:

Civil Case Files

  • All documents presumptively available electronically, unless sealed.
  • Specify what documents should be included in the electronically available “public file.”
  • Establish “levels of access” to certain electronic case file information.
  • Amend the procedural rules to account for privacy and security interests.

Criminal Case Files

  • No electronic public access to criminal case files.
  • Limited electronic public access to criminal case files.

Bankruptcy Case Files

  • Severely limit definition of those who are allowed to see files.
  • Require less information on petitions or schedules and statements filed in bankruptcy cases.
  • Restrict use of any account numbers to only the last four digits.
  • Segregate sensitive information from the public file, keeping it in forms with limited access.

Appellate Cases

  • Apply the same access rules to appellate courts that apply at the trial court level.
  • Keep sealed or restricted trial documents confidential until a party challenges the restriction.