Archive for the ‘Arkansas’ Category
The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania is formulating new policies regarding public access to court case files. The Notice from the court highlights the proposed removal of Social Security numbers and bank account numbers from future court files. The public can submit comments by email, which are due by May 28, 2008.
An Opinion issued by the North Dakota Attorney General confirms that email messages from government employees “acting within the scope of their public positions” are public records “regardless of whether it is located at their private homes or businesses.”
Last year, I wrote about a similar determination by the Idaho Supreme Court and the Arkansas Supreme Court. The courts, not the government entity, must determine whether public employees’ emails are private, according to the Arizona Supreme Court.
Read a recent round-up of other state court decisions: Are public employee e-mails secret?, The Des Moines Register, March 18, 2008.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press tracks public records news. Subscribe by email or RSS.
ABA criminal records closure proposal fails – Arkansas restricts court records – Nebraska court rules on Internet documents
The trend by courts to restrict the availability of criminal records made a short swing past the American Bar Association which killed a proposal at its annual conference on Friday that would have recommend state and federal courts seal criminal records. Vigorous lobbying by media First Amendment advocates and business groups lead to the measuring being withdrawn before it got to a vote. Initial story reported by Corruption Chronicles.
An Opinion issued by the Arkansas Supreme Court that revises permissible access to court records is now in effect. Information in case records that is now considered confidential includes litigant addresses and phone numbers, Social Security numbers and information about cases expunged or sealed. Bulk sale of criminal case information to the public or for commercial purposes is prohibited.
Cut-and-paste does not an admissible court document make when collecting data from an Internet Web site, according to a Nebraska District Court. Read the analysis at Internet Business Law Services.
A change in state law now enables the Arkansas State Police to release criminal history reports to anyone who has a signed release from the subject. Reports are available for a fee, instantaneously, through the Online Criminal Background Check System.
The Florida Bar has integrated attorney disciplinary actions into its online profiles of attorneys. Documents of recent actions can be viewed but all older cases (3000+) have yet to be scanned. This article describes the type of records available.
Lawyers who have received an admonishment, reprimand, suspension, or disbarment (including resignations for disciplinary reasons) in the prior 10 years will have that information noted on their biography page of the Bar’s Web site.
The site requires a search by name to identify disciplinary actions. A hit returns a description of actions taken and a file number. On recent 2007 closed cases, the file number will link to images. The results look like this:
A search on “disciplinary actions” within the Florida Bar News returns a list of links by date of filings since 2002. Add an individual name and get the Bar News reports on that attorney.
A law firm that accessed and viewed archived Web pages of an adversary through Archive.org did not violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act , even though those Web pages were not supposed to be available, an Eastern District of Pennsylvania judge ruled. Federal Judge Clears Law Firm Accused of Hacking Opponents’ Web Archives, New Jersey Law Journal, July 24, 2007
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that documents covered by attorney-client privilege are not public records. Work-product may still be covered by the public records law. Attorney-Client Privilege and Public Records Access, Massachusetts Law Updates, July 23, 2007.
Personal emails on government computers may be a public record, which should be determined by a court, in a ruling of the Supreme Court of Arkansas. The determination may rest in whether the non work related computer activity “should be carried out by a public official or employee.” Personal e-mail on public computers not always public, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, July 23, 2007.
The e-Government Online Services page at the State of Arkansas Web site has an extensive set of links to every Arkansas state and county public records online database. And, like SearchSystems, takes you directly to the online search page.
The Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission has a new database, Employers’ Workers’ Compensation Insurance Coverage Verification. Search by employer name, or partial name. The results include the employers covered under that name, Workers’ Compensation Insurance Coverage Provider and policy number and the employer address.
A prior posting provided a directory of links to the state workers’ compensation agencies.
Search statewide to confirm a voter registration filing with a name and date of birth. If you don’t have the birth date you may be able to locate one on Zabasearch, which lists some names, but only a month and year of birth. Try this birthday database search by name to find a full DOB. Steve Morse has a collection of birth date databases that can be searched from a single search query. You might even get a complete date of birth at a social media Web site. I searched a name with the phrase “birth date” at Google, limited to the MySpace site and found a full date of birth.
Okay, back to Arkansas. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has an online guide to open government and public records. Access to government maintained records, from autopsy reports to vital records is digested here. The Arkansas Times blog reports on open records activity.
As always, you’ll want to make use of your library card to take advantage of the free online databases offered by the state library system. Some of the resources include: Heritage Quest, which has searchable images of U.S. Federal Census records; Foundation Directory Online, a tool for finding background on non profits; and regional business and general interest periodicals, all searchable by keywords.
The Association of Arkansas Counties lists county demographics and has links to each county Web site, and also topical manuals for the Assessor’s, Corornor’s and Sheriff’s offices, among others.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued an opinion that county clerks are required to remove social security numbers from documents before releasing them to the public. The outcry from county clerks, subsequently from legislators, has forced him to put a 60 day hold on enforcement while the legislators review the consequences of this sweeping directive.
Administrative rules adopted by the Arkansas Supreme court affirm public access to court records while shielding Social Security numbers. The Arkansas courts were also directed to make dockets, judgments, orders, or decrees accessible to the public online. Reported by The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
The Plumas County California GIS Parcel Viewer application is online. Construct a topographical map of terrain features, locate real property by APN or street address and label and measure distances between features.
Minnesota state Sen. Julianne Ortman, has sponsored legislation that “would explicitly allow under statute the sealing of most conviction, arrest and other criminal justice documents held by the courts and state and local government agencies” according to the Star Tribune. Some serious felonies would be excluded. SF 294 would require employers tell prospective employees that expunged records do not have to be identified.