The Supreme Court has entered an order with attached amended public access policy (and explanatory report) that amends the public access policy for courts of record. The main purpose of the amendments is to include magisterial district courts within the public access policy.
There seem to be only a few changes that might affect practitioners in the Orphans’ Court:
- The name of the policy has been changed from “Public Access Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania: Case Records of the Appellate and Trial Courts” to “Case Records Public Access Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania.”
- The official commentaries to sections 7 and 8 have been revised to make it clear that a certification of compliance is required with EVERY document that is filed with a court regardless of whether the document includes confidential information or a confidential document. (The only filings that do not need a certification of compliance are filings in cases which are entirely exempt from public access. See commentary to sections 7 and 8.)
- The official commentary to the definitions in section 1 specifically states that registers of wills are not “custodians” subject to the public access policy.
The order is effective July 1, 2018.
“In re: Order Amending Public Access Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania: Case Records of the Appellate and Trial Courts,” 48 Pa.B. 2113 (4/14/2018), No. 496 Jud. Admin. Doc. (3/28/2018), republished as amended, 48 Pa.B. 2602 (5/5/2018).
[This news post was revised on 3/30/18 to include item #3 on the change in the commentary on the definition of “custodian” and on 5/4/18 to include a citation to the amended version of the order, which apparently did nothing but change “Case Record” to “Case Records” in the title of the policy.]