Thursday, November 03, 2016

Uniform Access to Court Records

This past Tuesday, November 1, 2016, the new Trial CourtRule XIV: Uniform Rules on Public Access to Court Records went into effect. There are five sub-rules covering (1) scope and definitions; (2) access to court records in a courthouse; (3) requests for compiled data; (4) requests for bulk data; and (5) remote access to electronic court records. The rule applies to clerks, clerk magistrates, registers of probate, recorders of the land court, and their assistants or designees. Since each register of deeds is also an assistant recorder of the Land Court, the new rules would apply to the registered land department at each registry of deeds. However, the new rules are clearly directed at case files and court dockets. The registry of deeds does not use either to organize our records. We have indexes and record books, now mostly virtual but some still of paper. And a core part of our mission is to make public our records, something we do at the registry and freely and fully on the internet. While we should be cognizant of the requirements of these new rules, I don’t believe they will change our operations in any meaningful way.  

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