Archive for the ‘Delaware’ Category
If all goes according to current plans, by January 2008 Cook County, Illinois will become one of the first counties in the country to digitize vital records and make them available online. The birth, death and marriage records to be made available are not for recent events. The genealogical records include birth certificates that are at least 75 years old, marriage certificates more than 50 years old, and death certificates more than 20 years old.
A recommendation by the Nevada Supreme Court Commission on Preservation, Access and Sealing of Court Records would tighten the regulations on sealing court records. The current standard allows judges to seal records upon request. The commission policy would require a compelling reason for sealing court records and would authorize any member of the public to request a sealed record be opened. Reported in the Las Vegas Sun
Judges in Oklahoma counties are holding closed proceedings of special drug and mental health courts, even though they are not required to be closed. Judges are citing federal law which mandates health records be kept confidential.
The Colorado Supreme Court has instituted a new rule that delays the fulfillment of court record requests for up to 3 days, ostensibly to redact personal information such as Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, bank account numbers and other personal-identification numbers, such as those on passports or student IDs. This is another instance of the current trend in government to give supremacy to personal privacy over the public’s right to know the activities of its government.
The Delaware Attorney General cannot oppose state agencies which decline public records requests, even when they do so in violation of the law. The News Journal sought salary information for employees of the Delaware Psychiatric Center. The Department of Health and Social Services denied the request, then the newspaper appealed to the Attorney General, who declined to take enforcement action.
The Delaware Psychiatric Center is an agency of state government and so the Department of Justice is precluded by statute from investigating any violations of the Freedom of Information Act alleged to have been committed by the Delaware Psychiatric Center.
Salaries of Delaware state employees who are paid with non public funds are not public records, according to an opinion issued this year by the Delaware Attorney General. Delaware State University solicited the opinion in response to a Freedom of Information request. At the time the AG assessed the University’s accounting system he concluded that it coded employee records to distinguish between employees paid with private money and those receiving payments from public funds. The determination is particularly troubling because the two employees on whom the data was requested are both state legislators.[Reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education.]
Of course, any public agency can follow the example of the North Carolina Columbus County Board of Commissioners and bury a public record in a confidential personnel file, then declare – mistakenly – that it’s not a public record.
Search collections of Washington State and Washington cities employee salary databases at this private Web site. Search statewide or within a city or agency. Data is collected for some sources for as much as 7 years. The site also has other databases and links to Washington State government databases for voters, real property ownership, inmates, court filings, restaurant inspections, recorded documents and newspaper name searches.
This South Dakota newspaper did a round-up of each state’s policy on release of government employee names and their pay, and whether an online searchable database was available. It would be a better reference tool if the site had provided hyperlinks to the state salary databases that are online.
Read prior PI buzz postings on databases and issues related to government employee salaries.
Corporate malefactors angle to “clean up” mentions of their names in court records. The powerful and the fearful each have their reasons… From AP:
Residential Funding wants Heffernan’s claims about who stiffed employees and which name names, stricken from the court record.
The GMAC unit, Residential Funding Co., is the largest secured creditor in Mortgage Lenders’ Chapter 11 case.
In court documents in March, Residential Funding said it wants to erase “scandalous” statements Heffernan made while fighting criminal prosecution in Connecticut for failing to pay employees up to $2.5 million in wages owed when Mortgage Lenders Network went bankrupt Feb. 5.
The National Archives provides links to all the state archives, which sometimes have online indexes of public records that are not at the local jurisdiction’s Web site. While these may be of more relevance to genealogists, private investigators often are charged with developing social histories for criminal defense cases, tracing beneficiaries for real estate matters, rooting out unclaimed assets or developing background on people and companies.
After you get to the state archives site look for a link to online databases or family history records if you don’t see the type of record listed you’re interested in. If the index isn’t online you can review the index and records at the state archive or receive microfilm through inter library loan. The California list of family history records includes:
COUNTY RECORDS 1850-1987. Includes probate court case files, wills, naturalizations, deeds, homesteads, and vital records for 28 counties. Not all records are available for all counties.
MENTAL HEALTH RECORDS* 1856-1972. Records may include registers and case files for Stockton, DeWitt, Modesto, Mendocino, and Sonoma State Hospitals. Some indexes available.
The Delaware Archives house state historical documents and have created an online index of probate files covering the years 1680 -1925. Search by last name, first name is optional, for a list of full names, date and county of filing.
These are not indexes to all the names appearing in the records, but only the names of the deceased for whom the files were created. Contained in each index are the individual’s name, and a date or dates. The dates correspond to the date of the documents within that individual’s file and may refer to a date of the will or to a date for probate to begin. New Castle and Kent County Probates are on self service microfilm available in our Research Room, and Sussex is in the process of being filmed (inquire with Research Room staff for details). Copies of this microfilm are also available for sale.
The Wisconsin Historical Society has an online Wisconsin Name Index to their holdings. Order document images for a fee.
The Wisconsin Name Index includes 150 county and local histories, dozen of professional directories and biographical encyclopedias, more than 60 scrapbooks containing 30,000 obituaries, and selected articles in Wisconsin magazines and newspapers. These publications were indexed by Wisconsin Historical Society librarians between roughly 1870 and 1970 but contain information on individuals from earlier date ranges. You can search the Wisconsin Name Index and purchase full text copies of available items which will be mailed directly to you.
Glance at my prior postings over the last few years for links to other sources.
The question presented in this appeal is whether Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 29 Del. Code Ann. § 10003, violates the Privileges and Immunities
Clause of the United States Constitution by restricting noncitizens’ rights to access, inspect, and copy public documents. We conclude that it does.
Although other states have similar exclusionary laws, the Third Circuit is reported to be the first to examine their legality.
The Third Circuit Court is hearing a case that will determine whether a portion of Delaware’s public records act is constitutional. Delaware is one of only 10 states, according to a New York Times article, that bars nonresidents from obtaining state public records.
Federal District Court Judge Farnam had previously ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Matthew Lee, a New York resident who had sought Delaware records from that state’s Attorney General.
Judge Farnan said that the Delaware law abridged Mr. Lee’s right to “engage in the political process” and violated the constitutional guarantee that each state’s citizens are entitled to the same privileges and immunities as those of other states.