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C. Dockets

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  • 10th Circuit

    The Tenth Circuit has not definitively decided whether the First Amendment or common law right of access extends to dockets. But, in another context, it has acknowledged that “dockets are public records” and “our ‘national heritage’ suggests that dockets are open to public inspection.” United States v. Mendoza, 698 F.3d 1303, 1306 (10th Cir. 2012) (quoting Hartford Courant Co. v. Pellegrino, 380 F.3d 83, 94 (2d Cir. 2004) (concluding Second Circuit First Amendment right of access extends to docket sheets). The Tenth Circuit further noted that the common law right of access likely extends to dockets, noting “[h]istory therefore demonstrates that docket sheets and their equivalents were, in general, expected to remain open for public viewing and copying.” Id. at 1307 (quoting Hartford Courant Co., 380 F.3d at 95) (internal quotation marks omitted).

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  • 2nd Circuit

    The public and press have a qualified First Amendment right of access to court docket sheets.  See Hartford Courant Co. v. Pelegrino, 380 F.3d 83 (2d Cir. 2004).  Indeed, in Hartford Courant, the court noted that "the ability of the public and press to attend civil and criminal cases would be merely theoretical if the information provided by docket sheets were inaccessible."  It further reasoned that sealed docket sheets would frustrate the ability of public and press to inspect court records, which are presumptively open, and the inaccessibility of docket sheets could thwart appellate review of underlying decisions about sealing.  Id. at 94; see also Livecchi v. Rochester Police Dep't, No. 04-CV-6162 CJS, 2004 WL 1737379, at *1 (W.D.N.Y. Aug. 2, 2004) (citing Hartford Courant, and ordering docket sheets unsealed where the plaintiff had "not presented any information from which the Court could conclude that sealing of the case is essential to preserve higher values.").

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  • 4th Circuit

    The public has a First Amendment right of access to docket sheets in criminal matters, but only post-indictment.  Pre-indictment investigative matters are not required to be publicly docketed. See In re State–Record Co., 917 F.2d 124 (4th Cir.1990) (per curiam); In re U.S. for an Order Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 2703(D), 707 F.3d 283, 294–95 (4th Cir. 2013); see also In re Application of Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press To Unseal Criminal Prosecution of Julian Assange, No. 1:18-mc-37, 2019 WL 366869, *3 n.3 (E.D. Va. Jan. 30, 2019) (“[T]he ability of the public and press to attend civil and criminal cases would be merely theoretical if the information provided by docket sheets were inaccessible.”) (quoting Hartford Courant Co. v. Pellegrino, 380 F.3d 83, 93-94 (2d Cir. 2004)).

    The public has no right of access to proceedings and records relating to the issuance of a search warrant before the warrant is executed, including an order sealing such proceedings and records.  After execution, the public has a common law, but not a First Amendment, right of access to affidavits in support of search warrants, which right may be overcome by law enforcement’s interest in protecting ongoing investigations. See Baltimore Sun Co. v. Goetz, 886 F.2d 60 (4th Cir. 1989); Media Gen. Operations v. Buchanan, 417 F.3d 424 (4th Cir. 2005); Washington Post v. Hughes, 923 F2d 324 (4th Cir. 1991); see also In re U.S. for an Order Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 2703(D), 707 F.3d 283, 295 (4th Cir. 2013) (While we agree that the public must ordinarily be given notice and an opportunity to object to sealing of public documents, we have never held, nor has any other federal court determined, that pre-indictment investigative matters such as § 2703(d) orders, pen registers, and wiretaps, which are all akin to grand jury investigations, must be publicly docketed.”) (internal quotations omitted).

    A district court in the Fourth Circuit has suggested that a First Amendment right of access to judicial records in criminal matters arises after indictment but before arrest. See In re Application of Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press To Unseal Criminal Prosecution of Julian Assange, No. 1:18-mc-37, 2019 WL 366869, *4 (E.D. Va. Jan. 30, 2019).

    A district court in the Fourth Circuit has observed that even after indictment, nondisclosure or sealing is usually appropriate before a charged person has been arrested because of the government’s well-established interests in preventing the accused from avoiding arrest, destroying or tampering with evidence, or otherwise interfering with the prosecution; securing privacy rights or confidential sources of information; and protecting the public.  Nevertheless, the court held that the motion to unseal was premature, as the record was unclear whether the person had actually been charged. See In re Application of Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press To Unseal Criminal Prosecution of Julian Assange, No. 1:18-mc-37, 2019 WL 366869, *4 (E.D. Va. Jan. 30, 2019).

    “[T]he keeping of a docket fulfills a public record-keeping function over and above the giving of notice to a party[.]” United States v. Osborne, 452 F. App'x 294, 296 (4th Cir. 2011) (citing Bankers Tr. Co. v. Mallis, 435 U.S. 381, 384 n.4 (1978)).

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  • 5th Circuit

    Nothing found specific to the Fifth Circuit.

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  • 7th Circuit

    Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 26.2 governs “Sealed Documents” and provides, in part, that “[t]he court may on written motion and for good cause shown enter an order directing that the docket entry for a sealed document show only that a sealed document was filed without any notation indicating its nature. . . .”  Id., subd. (f).  See also E.D. Wis. Local Crim. R. 49(b) (whenever court orders hearing to be conducted under seal, it may, upon finding good cause, “order that the docket entry for that hearing state only ‘SEALED,’ and that it be accessible only to the Court and the parties directly involved in the hearing”).

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  • 8th Circuit

    Only a single unpublished case addresses the right of access to criminal court dockets, and the case involved an inmate’s request for access. The Eighth Circuit held that an inmate’s First Amendment right of access to the courts was not infringed by a state court clerk who allegedly refused to provide the inmate a copy of the docket sheet in the inmate’s state criminal case since this “alleged inaction did not impede” the inmate’s “ability to file a habeas corpus petition in federal court and to request the document during case discovery.” Jackson v. Malecek, 1993 WL 315429, 2 F.3d 1154 (8th Cir. 1993).

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  • Alabama

    Docket information is available online via the state’s “Alacourt” system. Users may subscribe for an annual fee to Alacourt generally (https://v2.alacourt.com), or they may choose to access docket information related to a single case through the state’s “Just One Look” system, for a substantially reduced fee (https://pa.alacourt.com). Docket information may also be obtained from the clerk of the court in which the case is pending.

    We know of no statutory or case law authority relating specifically to whether a docket may be sealed.

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  • Arizona

    No published decisions.

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  • Arkansas

    The Supreme Court of Arkansas adopted a policy that grants public access to court records, including all court records, including the register of action and docket sheets, available to the public during business hours established by the court. Ark. Sup. Ct. Admin. Order No. 19. The Administrative Order also said that “[c]ourts should endeavor” to make information, including dockets, available by remote access “when available in electronic form.” Ark. Sup. Ct. Admin. Order No. 19(V)(A)(3).

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  • California

    California appellate courts have not expressly held that the constitutional presumption of access applies to court dockets. However, given the strong presumption of openness associated with criminal proceedings and records in California, the presumption of access is likely to be extended to the contents of docket sheets, which could be closed only if the requirements of California Rules of Court, Rules 20550 and 2.551 were met. See, e.g., Copley Press, Inc. v. Superior Court, 6 Cal. App. 4th 106, 111, 7 Cal. Rptr. 2d 841 (1992) (holding that the press had a right to inspect the clerk’s “rough minute” books of a trial court; First Amendment provides “broad access rights to judicial hearings and records ... both in criminal and civil cases”).

    In addition, California recognizes a presumption of access to all public records, which presumably would extend to dockets. See, e.g., Sander v. State Bar of California, 58 Cal. 4th 300, 304, 314 P.3d 488, 165 Cal. Rptr. 3d 250 (2013) (“under the common law right of public access, there is a sufficient public interest in the information contained in the admissions database such that the State Bar is required to provide access to it if the information can be provided in a form that protects the privacy of applicants and if no countervailing interest outweighs the public’s interest in disclosure”).

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  • Colorado

    The Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act (“CCJRA”) governs public access to criminal justice records, and generally provides that custodians of ordinary criminal justice records, which include criminal dockets, have discretion to permit or deny public access.  C.R.S. §§ 24-72-302 & 24-72-304. The Colorado Judicial Department’s Public Access to Court Records policy (“Public Access Policy”) (pdf) generally permits public access to court records.  (Section 4.10.)  The Public Access Policy defines a “court record” to include any “index, calendar, docket, [and] register of actions . . . related to a judicial proceeding.” (See Section 3.03(a)(3).)

    The Colorado Supreme Court has declined to recognize “a constitutional right of access to any and all [criminal] court records in cases involving public concern.”  People v. Owens, 2018 CO 55, ¶ 7, 420 P.3d 257, 258 (Colo. 2018).  “[W]e have never recognized any such constitutional right—whether under the First Amendment [to the U.S. Constitution] or Article II, section 10 of the Colorado Constitution.”  Id. ¶ 8.  The Colorado Supreme Court stated that there is “no ‘absolute right to examine’ court records” but “inspection may be permitted ‘at the discretion of the court’” and in accordance with “laws and administrative procedures currently in place—including, but not limited to, the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act, §§ 24-72-301 to -309, C.R.S. (2017)—that are predicated upon the absence of a constitutionally guaranteed right of access to criminal justice records.” Id. ¶¶ 9–10.

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  • District of Columbia

    Docket information for D.C. courts can be found on the District of Columbia Courts official website: http://www.dccourts.gov/internet/welcome.jsf.

    Docket information for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia can be found on the court’s official website: http://www.dcd.uscourts.gov/.

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  • Florida

    Dockets are a type of court record, access to which is governed by Article I, Section 24 of the Florida Constitution and Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420. The requirements for closure of a docket are the same as for the closure of courts records in the underlying case. Many circuits in Florida make their dockets available online. Courts may not make the case number, docket number or other similar number confidential. Cf. Rule 2.420(d)(2)(A). This provision was added to address super sealer problems involving sealed case files and completely sealed dockets.

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  • Georgia

    Dockets are publicly available in Georgia. Georgia has no single statewide system for electronically accessing court dockets, but many courts—including the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and many trial courts—do provide such access online via their own website or that of an authorized private vendor.

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  • Idaho

    Calendars or dockets of court proceedings, including case numbers and captions, date and time of hearings, and location of hearings are available for public review under Idaho Court Administrative Rule 32(d)(4).

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  • Indiana

    Under Administrative Rule 9(e)(4), courts “should endeavor” to make “[c]alendars or dockets of Court proceedings, including case numbers and captions, date and time of hearings, and location of hearings” and chronological case summaries remotely accessible to the public. Indiana uses the Odyssey case management system, which allows the public to search cases by case numbers, party names, or attorneys: https://public.courts.in.gov/mycase/#/vw/Search.

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  • Iowa

    In Iowa, dockets are public records maintained by the clerk of court. See Iowa Code Chapter 22 (2018). Dockets may be found at the clerk of court’s office or online on Iowa’s electronic docket. See Iowa Courts Online Search, http://www.iowacourts.state.ia.us. Copies of complete court documents are currently not available online and are only available in the clerk of court’s office. However, the docket may be confidential where the record of a criminal proceeding has been expunged. See State v. Doe, 903 N.W.2d 347 (Iowa 2017).

    Further, the Eighth Circuit has stated that case dockets are public records. In re Search Warrant for Secretarial Area Outside Office of Thomas Gunn, 855 F.2d 569, 575 (8th Cir. 1988) (citing United States v. Criden, 675 F.2d 550, 559 (3d Cir. 1982)). One rationale behind public dockets including motions to close a proceeding or seal documents is that the docket may serve as notice to the public and the press. Id. If motions are docketed in advance of a hearing, the docket itself can “afford[] the public and the press an opportunity to present objections to the motion.” Id. Further, the court held, “[t]he fact that a closure or sealing order has been entered must itself be noted on the court’s docket, absent extraordinary circumstances.” Id.

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  • Kansas

    Dockets are presumed to be open records in light of Kansas City Star Co. v. Fossey, 630 P.2d 1176 (Kan. 1981).  The Kansas Supreme Court acknowledged “that access to court proceedings should be limited only in exceptional circumstances” and “that the reason for requiring all court proceedings to be open, except where extraordinary reasons for closure are present, [ ] is to enhance the public trust and confidence in the judicial process and to insulate the process against attempts to use the courts as tools for persecution.”  Fossey, 630 P.2d at 1181.  The state supreme court embraced “a strong presumption in favor of open judicial proceedings and free access to records in a criminal case.”  Fossey, 630 P.2d at 1182 (quoting Fair Trial and Free Press: Standard 8-3.2 of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Association Standards for Criminal Justice (August, 1978)).

    Also noteworthy is the state Legislature’s codification of a requirement that state courts conduct a hearing before they seal records or close a proceeding.  See K.S.A. 60-2617.  In addition, the Kansas Judicial Branch has shown its commitment to openness:

    “Sunshine is the strongest antiseptic—its rays may penetrate areas previously closed . . . This is not to say that all documents in public offices are open to inspection; only those required by law to be kept and maintained must be made available. The latter, however, must be open for inspection under penalty of law.”

    State ex rel. Stephan v. Harder, 641 P.2d 366, 373 (Kan. 1982).

    Despite the legislative intent behind K.S.A. 60-2617, it has tended to serve in practice as a means of closing court proceedings in a way that would otherwise not have been available.  See, e.g., Order Sealing or Redacting Court Records Pursuant to K.S.A. 60-2617, State v. Bennett, Case No. 13 CR 263 PA (Labette Cty. Dist. Ct.).

    Dockets and other records are available directly from clerks of Kansas courts.  Contact information for the courts is available on the Kansas Judicial Branch’s website.  See District Court Contacts, Kansas Judicial Branch, http://www.kscourts.org/kansas-courts/general-information/contacts.aspAppellate Court Contacts, Kansas Judicial Branch, http://www.kscourts.org/kansas-courts/general-information/appellate-court-contacts.asp.  The state has also developed a fee-based search engine for district court records.  See District Court Records Search, Kansas Office of Judicial Administration, https://www.kansas.gov/countyCourts/search/records?execution=e3s1

    The Kansas Judicial Branch has developed a system for electronic filing of court records.  Information about the system is available online in Kansas Courts Electronic Filing, Kansas Judicial Branch, http://www.kscourts.org/Cases-and-Opinions/e-filing/default.asp; see also Rule on Public Access to District Court Records, Kansas Supreme Court Administrative Order 191, http://www.kscourts.org/kansas-courts/supreme-court/administrative-orders/Admin-order-191-Adopted.pdf.

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  • Kentucky

    Kentucky trial court dockets are generally open to the public and are available at the court clerk’s office in hard copy and on computer terminals.  Court dockets, in limited format, may also be accessed online at https://kcoj.kycourts.net/kyecourts/login/guestlogin.  Dockets of the Kentucky Court of Appeals and Kentucky Supreme Court are available on the Court of Justice website, http://courts.ky.gov/Pages/legal.aspx.

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  • Louisiana

    Such records should be accessible through a Public Records request, or by going to the clerk’s office (or the judge’s chamber) and asking to see the record.

    This page on the Louisiana Supreme Court’s website provides addresses and telephone numbers for all clerks of court as well as links to those clerk’s offices that have websites:

    http://www.lasc.org/links.asp

    Some courts, typically in rural areas, do not even have websites. Clerk’s offices in urban areas, such as those in Shreveport, Baton Rouge, Covington and Gretna, do have websites with access to court records. Typically, minimal or no information is available for free, and full access, sometimes including images of documents, is available only with a paid subscription.

    For New Orleans, the “Docket Master” page of the Criminal Sheriff’s website provides access to criminal court dockets in Orleans Parish:

    http://www.opcso.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&view=wrapper&Itemid=738

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  • Maine

    Any criminal docket can be accessed by contacting the clerk of the court where the case is pending. A directory of court contact information can be found on the Supreme Judicial Branch website at: http://www.courts.maine.gov/maine_courts/findacourt/index.shtml. The Court does not maintain an online or electronic system allowing public access to docket information, but the clerk’s office has access to computer terminals allowing docket searches in the courthouse.

    The courts will entertain motions to seal or impound dockets. Administrative Order JB-05-20 “Public Information and Confidentiality” explains that “[i]n some limited circumstances, all information about a case may be impounded, specific information within a case, such as the identity of a party, or the fact that an impoundment motion was made and granted may be impounded or sealed.” Id. § II(H)(2) n. 3.

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  • Maryland

    Although no Maryland state court has decided the issue, the Fourth Circuit has found a constitutional right of access to docket sheets. Doe v. Pub. Citizen, 749 F.3d 246, 268 (4th Cir. 2014) (noting right of access to criminal docket sheets). Maryland state courts have, however, recognized the importance of docket sheets in enforcing the public’s right of access. Baltimore Sun Co. v. Colbert, 593 A.2d 224, 229 (Md. 1991) (“[F]or the public to be able to assert [its right to attend pretrial proceedings] in a meaningful fashion, the motion must be docketed in advance of the time of the hearing to provide notice to afford an opportunity to oppose the closure motion, as well as to present alternatives to closure.”); id. at 305–06 (“[A]s with a motion to close a courtroom, a motion to seal [pleadings in a pretrial motion] should be docketed reasonably in advance of the request, if practicable.”). Docket entries regarding convictions that have been “expunged” may be sealed or destroyed. Md. Rules 4-501, et seq.

    (Electronic access to Maryland court dockets is available online at http://casesearch.courts.state.md.us.)

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  • Massachusetts

    Case files and dockets are generally public records. Massachusetts courts maintain a webpage with links and resources pertaining to dockets and court calendars. See also Boston College Law Library, Dockets and Court Filings Research (providing information about online docket access for all levels of Massachusetts courts).

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  • Minnesota

    Minnesota courts have not addressed this issue. However, The Rules of Public Access to Records of the Judicial Branch state that the “[r]ecords of all courts and court administrators … are presumed to be open to any member of the public for inspection or copying at all times during the regular office hours.” Minn. R. Pub. Access Rec’ds. Jud. Br. 2. “Records” are defined as “any recorded information that is collected, created, received, maintained or disseminated by a court or court administrator.” Id. 3, subd. 5.

    In federal cases, the Eighth Circuit has held that “case dockets maintained by the clerk of the district court are public records.” In re Search Warrant for Secretarial Area Outside Office of Gunn, 855 F.2d 569, 575 (8th Cir. 1988).

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  • Mississippi

    Some, but not all, Mississippi trial courts maintain their own websites or provide web access through a private vendor. Some of these sites include docket information. For cases on appeal, the docket of the Mississippi Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals is available online at https://courts.ms.gov/. The docket is searchable by party name, attorney name, and case number. The site provides a docket entry for each appeal listing the parties to the appeal and a publicly accessible PDF copy of every filing, order, and opinion in each case, unless the document has been placed under seal pursuant to a protective order.

    Records not available online can be viewed or copied in the office of the Clerk of the Mississippi Supreme Court, which maintains Supreme Court and Court of Appeals case files, unless the records have been placed under seal pursuant to court order. The clerk’s office may require advance notice of a request to view or copy a file. The telephone number is 601-359-3694. Because of limited space, older files are transferred to and stored at the State Department of Archives and History. Those records should be obtained directly from Archives and History.

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  • Montana

    All dockets are open to the public.

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  • Nebraska

    Court dockets are public records. State ex rel. Newby v. Elsworth, 61 Neb. 444, 85 N.W. 439 (1901). Docket information can be accessed through the clerk of the court. Docket information can also be accessed on line through the “JUSTICE” system available on the State of Nebraska’s official web service. Seewww.nebraska.gov/faqs/justice. JUSTICE can be accessed via a subscription or via a one-time search fee of $15.

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  • Nevada

    Criminal dockets are constitutionally open to the public unless sealed. Pursuant to NRS Chapter 179, a person may petition the court to seal docket entries related to an arrest.

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  • New Hampshire

    The right of access granted by the state constitution and under the common law discussed above applies to criminal dockets.

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  • New Mexico

    Pursuant to the New Mexico Federal Court Rules, the public may access an electronic docket under the “one free look” opportunity. District of New Mexico, Administrative Procedures Manual 7 (2017), https://www.nmd.uscourts.gov/sites/nmd/files/NMD_APM.pdf. The electronic docket and documents are available during regular business hours at public computer terminals located at each Clerk’s Office. Id. When a guardian is appointed for an incapacitated person or upon the appointment of a conservator, records, reports and evidence submitted to the court or recorded by the court shall be confidential, except that the public shall be granted access to some information, including docket entries. NMSA 1978, § 45-5-303(I); § 45-5-407(M).

    Pursuant to state court rules, the docket number and case type for the categories of cases listed in this paragraph shall not be sealed without a court order. Rule 1-079 NMRA. “When docketing a motion to seal, the clerk's docket entry should be part of the publicly available register of actions and should reflect that a motion to seal was filed, the date of filing, and the name of the person or entity filing the motion.” Id. However, “any docket entries related to the motion to seal should avoid including detail that would disclose the substance of the conditionally sealed material before the court has ruled.” Id.

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  • North Dakota

    All dockets are public record in North Dakota. Certain identifying information for hearings which are closed to the public may be redacted or omitted, as required by statute or rule.

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  • Oklahoma

    Dockets in all state civil, criminal, and appellate cases are readily available to the public through the Oklahoma State Courts Network, www.oscn.net.

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  • Oregon

    ORS 7.130 provides that “[w]henever requested, the clerk or court administrator shall furnish to any person a certified copy of any portion of the records or files in the custody of the clerk or court administrator.” Records include registers. ORS 7.010.

    The register is a record wherein the clerk or court administrator shall enter, by its title, every action, suit or proceeding commenced in, or transferred or appealed to, the court, according to the date of its commencement, transfer or appeal. Thereafter, the clerk or court administrator shall note therein all the following:

    (1) The date of any filing of any document.

    (2) The date of making, filing and entry of any order, judgment, ruling or other direction of the court in or concerning such action, suit or proceeding.

    (3) Any other information required by statute, court order or rule.

    ORS 7.020.

    Oregon provides online access to dockets via the Oregon Judicial Case Information Network (OJCIN). OJCIN is accessible at: https://www.courts.oregon.gov/services/online/Pages/ojcin.aspx. Access to OJCIN is subscription-based.

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  • Pennsylvania

    There is a right to access case dockets under both the First Amendment and the common law. See Commonwealth v. Curley, --- A.3d ----, 2018 Pa. Super. LEXIS 599, at *8-9 (June 4, 2018). Before sealing any portion of a docket, the court must make “individualized, specific, particularized findings” with respect to each docket entry. Id. at *10-11 (trial court erred in failing to make such findings when sealing docket entries).

    Effective January 6, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court approved a new policy that governs public access to case records, 204 Pa. Code § 213.81. “Case records,” as defined in the policy, include case dockets.

    Dockets for matters pending in the Superior Court, Commonwealth Court or Supreme Court may be accessed online at the web portal for The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania: https://ujsportal.pacourts.us/DocketSheets/Appellate.aspx (last visited July 19, 2018).

    Criminal case dockets for the Courts of Common Pleas can also be accessed at the web portal: https://ujsportal.pacourts.us/DocketSheets/CP.aspx (last visited July 19, 2018).

    Electronic case record information held on these portals is also governed by Electronic Case Record Access Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, available at http://www.pacourts.us/assets/files/page-1090/file-837.pdf.

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  • Utah

    The general presumption in favor of the right of public access presumably applies equally to dockets in criminal proceedings.  See Tillotson v. Van Nederveen Meerkerk, 2015 UT App 142, ¶ 6,353 P.3d 165 (“‘[C]ourt records are public unless otherwise classified by [] rule.’” (quoting Utah Code Jud. Admin. 4-202.02(1)); cf. Lafferty v. Bigelow, No. 2:07-CV-322 (D. Utah Jan. 9, 2014) (granting media intervenors’ motion to unseal records and to disclose unrecorded docket entries in civil context).

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  • Vermont

    Criminal dockets are publicly available in Vermont.  Access is not available online, however, so you need to contact the appropriate unit and division of the Vermont Superior Court to review criminal dockets.  See 12 V.S.A. § 5 (“The Court shall not permit public access via the Internet to criminal or family case records.”).  Contact information for the units and divisions of the Vermont Superior Court are available at: http://www.vermontjudiciary.org/court-locations.

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  • Virginia

    In Virginia, circuit court clerks are required to maintain dockets. See Va. Code § 8.01-331.  Thus, dockets are presumptively open to the public. See Va. Code § 8.01-208(B) (“records that are maintained” by circuit court clerks are presumptively open to the public); Shenandoah Pub. House, Inc. v. Fanning, 235 Va. 253, 262 n.3, 368 S.E.2d 253, 257 n.3 (1988) (dicta referencing “docket entries” as a type of judicial records to which the presumption of access applies).

    The Fourth Circuit has squarely acknowledged the public’s presumptive right of access under the First Amendment to docket entries.

    The ability of the public and press to inspect docket sheets is a critical component to providing meaningful access to [judicial] proceedings. The docket sheet provides onlookers an overview of the court proceedings and allows them to ascertain the parties to the case, the materials that have been filed, and the trial judge’s decisions.  Access to docket sheets therefore enhances the appearance of fairness and enlightens the public both to the procedures the district court utilized to adjudicate the claims before it and to the materials it relied upon in reaching its determinations. In this respect, docket sheets provide a kind of index to judicial proceedings and documents, and endow the public and press with the capacity to exercise their rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

    Doe v. Pub. Citizen, 749 F.3d 246, 268–69 (4th Cir. 2014) (internal citations and quotations omitted); see also In re U.S. for an Order Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 2703(D), 707 F.3d 283, 295 (4th Cir. 2013) (“Docket sheets exist to provide a map of proceedings in the underlying case, ensuring meaningful access to criminal proceedings.”) (internal quotations omitted); In re Application of Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press To Unseal Criminal Prosecution of Julian Assange, No. 1:18-mc-37, 2019 WL 366869, *3 n.3 (E.D. Va. Jan. 30, 2019) (“[T]he ability of the public and press to attend civil and criminal cases would be merely theoretical if the information provided by docket sheets were inaccessible.”) (quoting Hartford Courant Co. v. Pellegrino, 380 F.3d 83, 93-94 (2d Cir. 2004)).  Therefore, “the information contained on a docket sheet is material that is presumptively open to public inspection.” In re State–Record Co., 917 F.2d 124, 129 (4th Cir.1990) (per curiam). However, pre-indictment investigative matters are not required to be publicly docketed. See In re U.S. for an Order Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 2703(D), 707 F.3d at 295.

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  • Washington

    Court dockets are subject to the constitutional right of access.  State v. Richardson, 177 Wn.2d 351, 360, 302 P.3d 156 (2013) (the “presumption that court records are open would be meaningless if court dockets could be sealed without justification”).

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  • West Virginia

    While there are no West Virginia cases on point, court docket sheets fall within the scope of the “full and complete information regarding the operation and affairs of the judicial system,” covered by Rule 10.04(a) of the West Virginia Trial Court Rules to which the press and public are entitled.  While there are no West Virginia cases or laws discussing the status of court docket sheets in criminal cases, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in In re State-Record Co., Inc., 917 F.2d 124, 129 (4th Cir. 1990) reversed a docket sheet sealing order in a criminal case by finding such an order to be “overbroad,” holding, “we cannot understand how the docket entry sheet could be prejudicial. However, under the terms of the orders entered in these cases, this information, harmless as it may be, has also been withheld from the public. Such overbreadth violates one of the cardinal rules that closure orders must be tailored as narrowly as possible.”  In other words, the court held that wholesale sealing of a docket sheet in a criminal case was overbroad and improper.

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  • Wyoming

    Wyoming has recognized a constitutional right of access to dockets.

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