Supreme Court Adopts NEW Open Records Rule for Judiciary – Rule 1:38

7/22/09 – 5:27 pm] Generally speaking, the provisions of New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA) do not apply to records maintained by the judiciary. Historically, access to judicial records has generally been controlled under New Jersey common law and through Rule 1:38.

Today, the New Jersey’s Supreme Court announced in a press release the adoption of a new rule on public access to court records. The revised version of Rule 1:38 and recommendations about court access were submitted in a report by the Court’s Special Committee on Public Access to Court Records. The Court also released its administrative determinations on the committee’s recommendations.

The committee, commonly referred to as the “Albin Committee” for its chair, Associate Justice Barry T. Albin, was formed in February 2006 to conduct a review of Rule 1:38, “Confidentiality of Court Records,” in order to recommend changes to the rule that will facilitate the public’s access to court records as well as safeguard legitimate privacy interests.

The revised Rule 1:38, now called “Public Access to Court Records and Administrative Records,” will become effective on Sept. 1.

The rule includes
• an expanded definition of court records;
• a definition of administrative records and a statement on their availability to the public;
• a comprehensive listing of records excluded from public access with the relevant statutory or court rule references;
• a definition of confidential personal identifiers;
• certain prohibitions on submission of and access to personal identifiers;
• a section on redaction of personal identifiers;
• a section on sealing and unsealing court records;
• a process to appeal a decision denying access to a court record.

Download a copy of the newly revised Rule 1:38.

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