What you need to know about expanded remote public access
Vol. 79, No. 3 / May - June 2023
Hon. Jeffrey Bates
Hon. Jeffrey Bates graduated in 1979 from Southwest Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science in Speech. He graduated from the University of Missouri School of Law in 1984 and was associate editor-in-chief of the Missouri Law Review. Bates was in private practice in Springfield from 1984-2003, trying complex personal injury and wrongful death cases. He was appointed to the Missouri Court of Appeals-Southern District for a term beginning on Dec. 1, 2003, and retained in 2006 and 2018. Bates is a member of The Missouri Bar, Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association, State Judicial Records Committee, and Court Management of Technology Committee.
Hon. Gary W. Lynch
Hon. Gary W. Lynch is a senior judge, having retired in 2022 after serving 17 years as a judge on the Missouri Court of Appeals. He is a former president of the Council of Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeal and served two terms as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Center for State Courts. From 2015-2022, he served as chair of the Missouri Court Automation Committee, which is responsible for developing, implementing, and maintaining Missouri’s state-wide court automation system.
Beginning July 1, the public will have remote access to documents on Case.net filed on or after that date if they could be viewed on a court’s public access terminal.1
This expanded public access makes the filer’s redaction obligation for those documents more critical than ever.2
The obligation will be informed by the case security level and the document security level. The default settings programmed into the e-filing system for both are established by the State Judicial Records Committee. The following chart explains the meaning of the security level numbers.
If a document has case and document security levels of one or two (except for the non-public portions of a disposed paternity case), remote access will be permitted because the document is public. Consequently, filers will be required to redact confidential information from these public documents.
The redaction requirements for confidential information in a public document are contained in Missouri Court Rules.3 The filer of the document is responsible for redacting confidential information.4 Courts and clerks will not review each case document to ensure compliance and cannot refuse to accept or file a document on that basis.5 Confidential information means, “[i]nformation that is confidential pursuant to statute, court rule or order, or other law.”6 This can include, but is not limited to:
- Social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, state identification numbers, taxpayer identification numbers, and passport numbers;
- Financial institution account numbers, credit or debit card numbers, personal identification numbers, or passwords used to secure any such accounts or cards;
- Names, addresses, and contact information of informants, victims, witnesses, and persons protected under orders of protection or restraining orders;
- Dates of birth;
- Names of minors; and
- Case numbers of confidential, expunged, or sealed records.
Filers also should exercise caution when filing documents that include medical records, employment history, financial records, proprietary information, or trade secrets.7
Some of the statutes and rules with confidentiality requirements include:
- § 509.520, RSMo – Certain court pleadings;
- § 595.226, RSMo – Information that could be used to identify or locate any Chapter 566, domestic assault, or stalking victim;
- Rule 25.03(d)-(f) – Information state may redact in discovery response; and
- Rule 25.11(b) – Protective orders for redaction in criminal cases.
All redactions must be done in a manner that makes it clear information has been redacted.8 If necessary to reference the redacted information in a document, a filer is required to use generic descriptors.9 Here is an example for John Doe, a minor child:
Various PDF editing software can provide redaction functionality, including the insertion of a generic descriptor for a redacted item. The filer should confirm the software completely removes redacted information, rather than simply masking over it. The Missouri Bar has a software comparison chart on its Remote Public Access and Redaction Resource Center at MoBar.org/RemotePublicAccess.
When a filer redacts information from a document offered for filing in any court, they also must contemporaneously file a confidential redacted information filing sheet (CRIFS).10 The CRIFS must either:
- have the unredacted version of the document attached thereto; or
- set out the information redacted from the document and explain, either where in the document the information was redacted, or the generic descriptors used in the document to reference the type of redacted information.11
A CRIFS and any attachments are assigned a default document security level of three to make that filing confidential. The State Judicial Records Committee has approved standard CRIFS forms for each type of compliance.
Before a document can be submitted to the e-filing system, the filer must affirmatively certify compliance with the redaction requirements.12 Certification is accomplished through an automated process in the e-filing system that requires checking a box before submission. Unless the filer completes that step, they cannot submit the document. For filers not authorized to use the e-filing system, certification is required in paper form, either on the document itself or by attachment of a certification form to the document.13 The State Judicial Records Committee has approved a certification form for statewide use. There is no provision in the rule for a clerk to monitor compliance or to refuse to accept or file the document if noncompliant. Certification is required for all documents, even if a document does not contain any redactions. These redaction requirements also apply to judges and judicial court staff. However, they are not required to affirmatively certify compliance with the redaction requirements in Rules 19.10, 55.025, and 84.105 when a document is filed.14
If a document is filed with insufficient redaction, the Supreme Court of Missouri has established the following procedure:
When a motion is filed alleging a document filed with the court contains insufficiently redacted confidential information, the clerk shall raise the document’s security level to a confidential setting. The court shall dispose of the motion within 30 days. If the court determines the document is sufficiently redacted, the clerk shall reset the document’s security level to allow for proper public access.15
This process authorizes a clerk to make the filed document confidential, thus not remotely accessible to the public, while the judge considers whether any confidential information was insufficiently redacted.
These new rules will go into effect July 1, but the expanded remote access via personal devices will be implemented in phases over a roughly four-month period due to the anticipated demand on the judiciary’s information technology systems. Documents filed after July 1 in each court will become remotely accessible to the public when that location’s implementation is activated, as provided in the implementation schedule.
The Missouri Bar is developing, and will continue to update, educational materials and resources to support filers in their requirements to redact confidential information. Please consult The Missouri Bar Remote Public Access and Redaction Resource Center at MoBar.org/RemotePublicAccess.
1 See Court Operating Rule (COR) 2.03(k) and COR 2.04(d).
2 See COR 2.02 (Amended June 28, 2022; effective July 1, 2023).
3 COR 2.02(c); Rule 19.10(a); Rule 55.025(a); Rule 84.015(a).
4 COR 2.02(d); Rule 19.10(b); Rule 55.025(b); Rule 84.015(b).
5 COR 2.02(d).
6 COR 2.02(c).
8 COR 2.02(e); Rule 19.10(c); Rule 55.025(c); Rule 84.015(c).
10 COR 2.02(e)(2); Rule 19.10(d); Rule 55.025(d); Rule 84.015(d).
12 COR 2.02(e)(3); Rule 19.10(e); Rule 55.025(e); Rule 84.015(e).
14 COR 2.02(e)(3); see Order of Jan. 31, 2023, correcting COR 2.02(e).
15 COR 2.02(e)(4); see Order of April 4, 2023, correcting COR 2.02(e).