The inaccuracy of court index information has taken a new shape with the redacting of personal data and the posting of these indexes on the court websites. I previously reported on the apparent unintentional alteration of Sacramento County, California criminal index listings. We’re familiar with the various identifiable limitations of the government sites: inclusive dates aren’t listed and the information returned may be more limited than that at a commercial source. The current issue of Public Records Update, from BRB Publications reveals another troubling situation: the removal of cases from indexes without any notification. Here’s the summary from BRB:
Many online researchers are aware of the Connecticut Judicial Department’s website as an excellent free online source of CT Superior Court civil records (http://www.jud2.state.ct.us/Civil_Inquiry). However, many researchers may not be aware of periodic purges of the data that may jeopardize true due diligence searching. Although the webpage states that records can be posted as long as 10 years, many cases are only posted for one year. For example, cases closed by settlement, dismissal, withdrawal, and even stipulated judgments may be removed from the website within a year after disposition. Also, in March 2005, over half of the records were purged from the system (from 309,000 to 145,000 civil cases).
While the CT Judicial Branch website can be a useful tool for anyone interested in searching for judgments or pending cases, it can be a trap for the unwary who are looking for a full litigation history or background information. A special thanks to John Lach of Court PC of Connecticut Inc. for bringing this to our attention!