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Sealing of Court Records

Posted by attorney Connie Stephens

It has been hot if not hotter but fall is in the air. The fall season includes the beginning of the holidays, starting with Halloween. It is the time to start looking out for all those ghouls and goblins; those tricks done instead of treats. The Rule Maker is in no mood for treats and too busy for tricks as you shall see.

Effective August 18, 2010, the afterhours procedure to file dating, domestic, repeat and sexual violence injunctions in Pasco County after hours means after 4:00 p.m. or before 8:30 p.m. on regular workdays or at any time during a holiday or weekend day. The petition will not be processed until the following day. Adm. Order No. 2010-044-PA-CIR.

Adm. Order No. 2010-044-PA-CIR Americans with Disability Act. In re: Amendments to Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.540, 35 Fla. L. Weekly s267 (May 20, 2010) has updated the Rule of Judicial Administration 2.215 and ?46.26 Fla. Stat. Certain language related to accommodating a person with disabilities, must be placed on any notice for a proceeding before the Courts in Pinellas County. Pasco County's designated language is slightly different. If the required language is not contained within a notice, the Clerk can refuse to issue any document prepared by counsel.

All foreclosure sales set on or after October 4, 2010 in Pinellas County shall be conducted ONLINE at at 10:00 a.m. The Form N, Uniform Final Judgment of Foreclosure which is attached to Adm. Order No. 2010-025-PA/PI-CIR has been amended to reflect the online transaction. See, Adm. Order No. 2010-052 PI-CIR.

The Adm. Order No. 2010-063-PI-CTY Local Ordinance Violations, Fish and Wildlife is massive. This order adds classifications for violations related to pain management clinics, fertilizing, tethering of animals; to increased fine schedules for all classes of violations by $5.00. This order clarifies language related to watering violations. Revised Attachment A is the Uniform Fine Schedule and Miscellaneous Ordinance, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Natural Resources Violations Schedule; contested versus uncontested uniform fine schedules.

*This is the rule most important for the public* The big monster order is Adm. Order No. 2010-065-PA/PI-CIR; Sealing of Court Records. This Order amends the Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420, effective October 1, 2010. These amendments mandate that the filer of documents and the clerks of the court must identify certain records as confidential. This order modifies the procedures for sealing and unsealing of court records, establishes procedures for criminal cases and addresses the sealing of appellate records. These amendments do not alter existing laws protecting confidential records. The clerks are to continue to automatically seal certain records made confidential by federal or state law.

This extensive order implements procedures dealing with the filer of court records and the notice of confidential information with the court. See, Appendix A, it lists the types of confidential information to be sealed. Appendix B is the form: Notice of Confidentiality of Court Records. Appendix D is the form "Notice to Affected Non-Party". If the motion is an agreed upon matter, the filer must contact the judicial assistant of the applicable section judge for agreed upon matter, the filer must contact the judicial assistant of the applicable section judge for a hearing within 30 days.

Appendix E is the form "Notice of Hearing (Sealed Records) and the proposed form "Order Granting/Denying Motion to Determine Confidentiality of Court Records" is Appendix F-1 and F-2. There is a different form for Special Criminal records. Appendix G is the form "Motion to Determine Confidentiality of Court Records - Special Criminal Records in Accordance with Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420(c)(9).

Certain types of cases remain sealed including dependency, termination of parental rights, adoption, surrogacy, children and families in need of services, sections 984, et seq., delinquency and waiver of parental notification of termination of pregnancy. Additional types of cases to be sealed by the Clerk are: petitions regarding individuals suspected of being infected with a sexually transmitted diseases, having tuberculosis, Baker acts, Marchman acts and sexual violence injunctions.

Certain confidential records and information to be sealed and maintained by the Clerks includes: domestic violence petitions request for a confidential filing of address, inventory of personal representatives and accountings, guardianship reports and orders appointing monitors, birth records, death records, clinical records of detained criminal defendants found incompetent to proceed or acquitted by reason of insanity, medical records, psychological and psychiatric evaluations, presentence reports, notice of social security number, protected health information, violation of probation reports, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Criminal History records, driver history records, confidential records as per Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420(c)1-6, social security numbers contained in an indictment or information filed by the State Attorney and information identifying victims of sexual offenses. Other confidential records still include certain paternity records and criminal investigatory records.

See, also the recent opinion: Amendments to Florida Rules of Civil Procedure _______ So.2d._______, 2010 WL 3488983 (Fla. September 8, 2010) which establishes procedures for inadvertent disclosure of privileged materials in civil cases. See, JACPA Ethics Alert from J. Corsmeier.

My lips are sealed, Boo Out! Connie R. Stephens

Additional resources provided by the author

This article appeared in the Clearwater Bar Association's Res Ipsa Loquitur "The Rules Rule."
Aug./Sep. 2010

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