Archive for the ‘New Hampshire’ Category
Too many government agencies have their public records buried in their websites, obscurely titled and often vital records aren’t indexed online at all.
Last year, I wrote about Connecticut towns that included civil unions among their online records indexes. New Hampshire year-end town reports — which you would think are just about tax revenue and budgets — include births, marriages, civil unions, deaths and burials that have been registered that year. This usually follows, unannounced, after the town clerk’s revenue report. In this example, the vital records for the year begin on page 187! These are all pdf’s, so you can easily save them to your computer should you be so inclined.
Is this common knowledge among New Hampshire private investigators?
Apart from searching around the government website for the “town of” to find the annual report, you can query it from a search engine. One of the key phrases is, “RESIDENT CIVIL UNION REPORT” or replace “civil union” with “marriage”, “death”, etc. Now if you want to search a name and don’t know the year or even the town, you know your research gets more complicated. But start by adding “lastname firstname” to the above search query. The website archive.org has a collection of some New Hampshire town reports and you can search across them by name, like this: “lastname firstname” site:archive.org. If that returns too many documents, add key phrases, such as, intitle:”annual report of the town” or “place of birth”.
The New Hampshire Department of Corrections Offender Locater database can be searched by partial last name. The inmate search covers inmates currently in a Department of Correction facility. Results include Date of Birth, Prisoner ID#, Booked Date, Current Parole Date, Maximum Parole Date, Facility, Case ID, Offense Date, Court Docket and Conviction Crime.
Note the Department of Corrections explanation of the sentencing dates listed for the inmate:
The inmate locater displays all sentencing information currently available. Only the current controlling sentence shows the original minimum and original maximum release dates. Offenders with consecutive sentences remaining to be served, technical parole violators, and/or non-New Hampshire state-sentenced offenders serving sentences in New Hampshire facilities may not include the original minimum or original maximum release dates because this data is either not available or has not been fully calculated.
The New Hampshire Supreme Court has instituted new rules that abolish fees for petitions to unseal cases. However, the rules require notification of the case parties by the person seeking to unseal the records. The court also ruled that financial statements are public records but that they could be sealed!
Meanwhile, Maryland legislators are considering whether to add juveniles as young as 13 years old to the sex offender registry upon conviction of a qualifying crime. Most states keep the names of juvenile defendants confidential. Another proposal would create a “no sex offenders zone” of a half mile around school yards, which other states have found is counter productive. Apparently the registrants become transient because, it turns out, if you draw a half mile ring around every school there’s nowhere for them to live!
The abundance of state legislation restricting access to public records is depressing for open government advocates. But the head in the sand approach won’t preserve access, so here are some of the Bills under consideration by state legislatures.
HB 269, An act prohibiting “pretexting” as a means of obtaining personally identifiable information, would invoke civil penalties for any use of pretexting to obtain any personally identifying information.
HB 686 would prohibit anyone from electronically tracking another person without that person’s consent.
HB 729 includes a prohibition on retaining or storing personal information on drivers’ licenses in an electronic form.
Legislation introduced in Arizona aims to remove all victim information from police reports before they’re released to journalists, attorneys, private investigators or the public in general. SB 1286 states: “A victim’s contact and identifying information that is obtained, compiled or reported by a law enforcement agency shall be redacted by the originating agency in publicly accessible records pertaining to the criminal case involving the victim. “
SB1286 has other flaws as well. By requiring law enforcement to keep victim information out of public records (instead of redacting or blacking out the information when appropriate), the bill could force police agencies to spend millions of dollars to install new computer software and to redesign reports in order to create two sets of documents — one for public release and one for the criminal justice system to operate fairly.
California State Sen. Ron Calderon has introduced SB 690, legislation that was expected to allow District Attorneys to release personal information on arrestees and parolees, which an Attorney General Opinion had said violated the right to privacy. Unfortunately the bill appears to have become restrictive to the point that private investigators and the public might have more difficulty obtaining police reports under the California Public Records Act.
Notwithstanding any other law, a local agency may, in response to a written request made pursuant to Section 6253 of the Government Code, provide information from a local summary criminal history, if the person making the request declares under penalty of perjury that the request is made for a scholarly or journalistic purpose and the release of the information would enhance public safety, the interest of justices, or the public’s understanding of the justice system.
California Assemblymember Dave Jones has submitted AB 1168, a bill regulating public records which contain social security numbers.
The California Public Records Act requires state and local agencies to make their records available for public inspection unless a record is exempt from disclosure. The act exempts from disclosure, among others, any record that is a personnel, medical, or similar file the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
This bill would provide that, notwithstanding these provisions, a local agency shall not disclose to the public any record that is required to be open to the public by any provision of law if that record displays more than the last four digits of any social security number.
A vague bill, AB 703 requires that records containing social security numbers be destroyed.
Last year’s failed bill, SB 1666, has returned in the form of SB 328, Personal Information: Prohibited Practices.
The bill would also prohibit any person, as defined, from, among other things, obtaining or attempting to obtain, or causing or attempting to cause the disclosure of, personal information about a customer or employee contained in the records of a business through specified methods, such as by making false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or representations, with specified exceptions.
Two bills at the state legislature would make private records that are currently public. New Mexico publicly-owned utilities must provide copies of all its records, under current law, but the presumption of openness that has characterized the release of government records shifting toward closure.
One proposed law, HB 279, from Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, would prohibit the disclosure of consumers’ nonpublic personal information.
Another bill, House Bill 1027 from Rep. Patty Lundstrom, D-Gallup, would exempt from the right to inspect public records any law enforcement record of “individuals accused but not charged with a crime,” discharge papers of a veteran and “the residential addresses of customers of municipal or county utilities.”
Is your state government proposing similar legislation?
The New Hampshire Department of Corrections has add an inmate finder at its Web site. Identify inmates using a partial first or last name. A search returns the facility where the prisoner is detained, the birth year, booking number and date, current parole date, type of crime for which they were convicted and the maximum possible term of incarceration.
Search the Puerto Rico Sex Offenders Registry in Spanish or English.
The Nevada Appeal News reports…
The Churchill County Recorder’s Office began in August alerting those who do business with the office, such as title companies, that beginning Jan. 1, Social Security numbers would not be allowed on public documents.
New Hampshire courts are slowly implementing a new case tracking system that will link all of the state courts – in about 3 years. The Supreme Court is still debating which personal identifying details will be masked in the Internet site.
It also will improve public access to court records. For the first time, court dockets _ including the names of the parties, the type of case or criminal charges, and the dates of filings, hearings and decisions _ will be publicly available, going as far back as 1988.
But public access won’t improve immediately. That’s because the Supreme Court is still working on rules governing what records should be available only on paper, what information would be on public computers at courthouses, and what would be on the Internet.