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January 15, 2014
Board endorses amendment to provide more electronic access to court records

A skeptical Board of Governors narrowly endorsed an amendment to the Rules of Judicial Administration aimed at providing electronic access to court records while protecting confidential information.

Laird Lile Board members, acting at their December meeting, said they were concerned because some of the details in the rule amendments were left blank, to be filled in later by the Florida Courts Technology Commission.

Specifically, the proposed amendment to Rule 2.420 referred to a “matrix,” which is still being worked out by the FCTC and will be enacted by a future Supreme Court administrative order that will determine which sensitive records will not be available electronically.

“I have a problem in voting to recommend to the Supreme Court all of the nuts and bolts in respect to what’s going to be open and what’s going to be closed when that hasn’t been adopted yet,” said board member Bill Davis.

Board member Laird Lile, who also serves on the FCTC, said the rule that establishes the FCTC gives it the authority to recommend to the court how confidential matters will be handled. He said the proposal before the board was a “coordinating amendment” so that the rules will be ready when the FCTC finishes the matrix.

“I don’t think the court anticipates the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee is going to get into those issues it has already said the FCTC is going to get into,” Lile said.

“There are other rules in the Rules of Judicial Administration that specifically refer to administrative orders and when those went up [to the Supreme Court], those were blank because they didn’t know how those administrative orders would be,” said Rules of Judicial Administration Committee Chair Keith Park.

He added he anticipants the RJA committee will have amendments coming to the board in the next several months dealing with the rapidly changing details connected to electronic filing, electronic service, and confidentiality of electronic records.

The board rejected Davis’ motion to table the amendment, and then voted 21-15 to recommend it to the Supreme Court.

[Revised: 04-14-2014]